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Unfinished Business: J. E. R. Staddon’s The New Behaviorism, 2nd ed

J. E. R. Staddon, The new behaviorism (2nd ed.) New York, NY: Psychology Press, 294pp. . ISBN-10: 1848726880; ISBN-13: 978 1848726888
  • Travis ThompsonEmail author
Book Review

Introduction

In Satanic Verses (1988), Salman Rushdie wrote, "Now I know what a ghost is. Unfinished business, that's what.” (n132) In this review, I suggest John Staddon's scholarly work, The New Behaviorism, Second Edition (hereafter TNB)is an effort to come to terms with his unfinished business, the legacy of the Burrhus F. Skinner he wishes had existed rather than the one that actually did.

Staddon’s TNB provides an alternative vision of what behavior analysis might have been had B. F. Skinner been a different scientist. The Skinner who shaped modern behavior analysis was the author of Behavior of Organisms (1938), “The Operational Analysis of Psychological Terms” (1945), and Verbal Behavior (1957), rather than a more modest theorist of the sort Staddon critically discusses in this update of his 2001 New Behaviorism book.

The Skinner Staddon would have preferred would have been content developing equations predicting key-pecking choices by pigeons, and not advancing bold ideas...

Notes

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© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational PsychologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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