From Aircrib to Walden Two

B. F. Skinner and Cultural Design
  • Julie S. Vargas
Chapter
Part of the Applied Clinical Psychology book series (NSSB)

Abstract

Many textbooks and articles about B. F. Skinner’s work assert that operant conditioning procedures work with rats and pigeons or with drill and practice in human beings, but not with complex behaviors such as problem solving or creativity. The impression these secondary sources give is that Skinner was not much concerned with larger issues, nor with behavior more sophisticated than giving the answer to questions like “What is 2 + 2?” While it is true that Skinner’s first book reported work on the behavior of rats (Skinner, 1938), and that one other book was a compendium of work using pigeons (Ferster & Skinner, 1957), the rest of Skinner’s books could not possibly give the impression that his main concern was the behavior of laboratory animals. Take, for example, Skinner’s (1953) textbook, Science and Human Behavior. Of the 449 pages, half are devoted to general principles about the analysis of behavior. The remaining 222 pages discuss larger issues, including chapters labeled “Self-control,” “Thinking,” “The Self,” “Social Behavior,” and “Designing a Culture.” The breadth of Skinner’s concern for human welfare always surprises those who know Skinner only through secondary sources.

Keywords

Verbal Behavior Large Issue Behavior Analyst Cumulative Record Cultural Design 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie S. Vargas
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Educational Psychology and FoundationsWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA

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