A rule is a verbal description of a behavior contingency in which a learner does not need to experience the consequence of breaking the rule.  For example, the rule “Do not run while you are on the playground structure” is a pretty good rule to follow for a young child so he can avoid the likelihood of falling off the structure and hurting himself when he breaks the rule. The opposite of rule-governance is learning by directly coming into contact with the consequence of the contingency.  In our example, this will be the boy that ignores the rule, falls off the structure, with the boy no longer running in future visits to the park. Hence the saying “learning something the hard way.”


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