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So far B. F. Skinner Foundation has created 314 entries.

About Behaviorism, Chapter 1: The Causes of Behavior?, Quote 3

“. . . the major difficulties are practical: we cannot anticipate what a person will do by looking directly at his feelings or his nervous system, nor can we change his behavior by changing his mind or his brain.” (p. 12)

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About Behaviorism, Chapter 1: The Causes of Behavior?, Quote 2

“The person with whom we are most familiar is ourself; many of the things we observe just before we behave occur within our body, and it is easy to take them as the causes of our behavior.” (pp. 10-11)

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About Behaviorism, Chapter 1: The Causes of Behavior?, Quote 1

“Why do people behave as they do? It was probably first a practical question: How could a person anticipate and hence prepare for what another person would do? Later it would become practical in another sense: How could another person be induced to behave in a given way?” (p. 10)

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About Behaviorism, Introduction, Quote 11

“The major problems facing the world today can be solved only if we improve our understanding of human behavior. Traditional views have been around for centuries, and I think it is fair to say that they have proved to be inadequate.” (pp. 8-9)

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About Behaviorism, Introduction, Quote 10

“Unfortunately, very little is known about this analysis outside the field. Its most active investigators, and there are hundreds of them, seldom make any efforts to explain themselves to nonspecialists. As a result, few people are familiar with the scientific underpinnings of what, I believe, is the most cogent statement of the behavioristic position.” […]

About Behaviorism, Introduction, Quote 9

“The criticisms listed above [on pp. 4-5] are most effectively answered by a special discipline, which has come to be called the experimental analysis of behavior. The behavior of individual organisms is studied in carefully controlled environments, and the relation between behavior and environment then formulated.” (p. 8)

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About Behaviorism, Introduction, Quote 8

“I believe the explanation [why behaviorism is still so seriously misunderstood] is this: the science itself is misunderstood.” (p. 8)

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About Behaviorism, Introduction, Quote 7

“Much is at stake in the way in which we look at ourselves, and a behavioristic formulation certainly calls for some disturbing changes”. (p. 7)

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About Behaviorism, Introduction, Quote 6

“[Watson’s] new science was also, so to speak, born prematurely. Very few scientific facts about behavior—particularly human behavior—were available . . . Among the behavioral facts at hand were reflexes and conditioned reflexes, and Watson made the most of them, but the reflex suggested a push-pull type of causality not incompatible with the nineteenth-century […]

About Behaviorism, Introduction, Quote 5

“Watson himself had made important observations of instinctive behavior and was, indeed one of the first ethologists in the modern spirit, but he was greatly impressed by new evidence of what an organism could learn to do, and he made some rather extreme claims about the potential of a newborn human infant.” (p. 6)

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About Behaviorism, Introduction, Quote 4

“The first explicit behaviorist was John B. Watson, who in 1913 issued a kind of manifesto called Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It. As the title shows, he was not proposing a new science but arguing that psychology should be redefined as the study of behavior. This may have been a strategic mistake.” (p. […]

About Behaviorism, Introduction, Quote 3

“Human behavior is the most familiar feature of the world in which people live, and more must have been said about it than about any other thing; how much of what has been said is worth saving?” (p. 3)

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About Behaviorism, Introduction, Quote 2

“Some of the questions [behaviorism] asks are these: Is such a science really possible? Can it account for every aspect of human behavior? What methods can it use? Are its laws as valid as those of physics and biology? Will it lead to a technology, and if so, what role will it play in […]

About Behaviorism, Introduction, Quote 1

“Behaviorism is not the science of human behavior; it is the philosophy of that science.” (p. 3)

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Skinner’s Quote of the Day Project starts 2017 with quotes from About Behaviorism

A good tradition of starting on January 4th of the New Year to publish daily quotations from Skinner’s publications continues today. We start 2017 with the first quote from About Behaviorism (Skinner, 1974).

Quotes from B. F. Skinner works, selected by renowned scientists, appear daily Monday-Friday in order, starting with Chapter 1 of each book […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 24: Psychotherapy, Quotes 3-5

“By distributing scientific knowledge as widely as possible, we gain some assurance that it will not be impounded by any one agency for its own aggrandizement.” (p. 442)
“Science is not free, either. It cannot interfere with the course of events; it is simply part of that course. It would be quite inconsistent if we […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 24: Psychotherapy, Quote 2

“To refuse to accept control, and thus to leave control to other sources, often has the effect of diversifying control. Diversification is another possible solution to our problem.” (p. 440)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 24: Psychotherapy, Quote 1

“A demonstration of basic behavioral processes under simplified conditions enables us to see these processes at work in complex cases, even though they cannot be treated rigorously there. If these processes are recognized, the complex case may be more intelligently handled.” (p. 435)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 23: Religion, Quote 1

“The power achieved by the religious agency depends upon how effectively certain verbal reinforcements are conditioned—in particular the promise of Heaven and the threat of Hell.” (p. 353)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 22: Controlling Agencies, Quote 2

“A functional analysis of behavior provides us with a basic conception with which we may approach each of these fields in turn. . . if we can achieve such an account, then a considerable advantage may be claimed over traditional formulations. Not only will our analysis in each case have the support of the […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 22: Controlling Agencies, Quote 1

“The conception developed in one field is seldom applied, and never effectively applied, to another. What the political scientist has to say about man proves to be of little value to the psychotherapist, while the individual who emerges from educational psychology bears no familial resemblance to economic man. It is not likely that the […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 20: Personal Control, Quote 13

“Those who are most concerned with restricting personal control have most to gain from a clear understanding of the techniques employed.” (p. 322)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 20: Personal Control, Quote 12

“As we have seen, science implies prediction and, insofar as the relevant variables can be controlled, it implies control. We cannot expect to profit from applying the methods of science to human behavior if for some extraneous reason we refuse to admit that our subject matter can be controlled.” (p. 322)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 20: Personal Control, Quote 11

“As we have seen, science implies prediction and, insofar as the relevant variables can be controlled, it implies control. We cannot expect to profit from applying the methods of science to human behavior if for some extraneous reason we refuse to admit that our subject matter can be controlled.” (p. 322)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 20: Personal Control, Quote 10

“. . . control is frequently aversive to the controllee. Techniques based upon the use of force, particularly punishment or the threat of punishment, are aversive by definition, and techniques which appeal to other processes are also objectionable when, as is usually the case, the ultimate advantage to the controller is opposed to the […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 20: Personal Control, Quote 9

“Psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists usually prefer theories of behavior in which control is minimized or denied, and we shall see that proposed changes in governmental design are usually promoted by pointing to their effect in maximizing freedom.” (p. 321)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 20: Personal Control, Quote 8

“Students of human behavior often avoid the issue of control and even regard it as in bad taste to suggest that deliberate control is ever undertaken.” (pp. 320-321)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 20: Personal Control, Quote 7

“The individual who is able to present a positive reinforcement or withdraw a negative is usually also able to present the negative or withdraw the positive and is therefore able to punish.” (p. 318)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 20: Personal Control, Quote 6

“Negative reinforcement is employed in personal control in the aversive cry of the child and the nuisance value of the behavior of an adult. Control is achieved by making the withdrawal of these aversive stimuli contingent upon the response to be strengthened.” (p. 317)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 20: Personal Control, Quote 5

“The whole field of verbal behavior exemplifies the use of stimuli in personal control. The speaker generates auditory patterns which are effective because of the listener’s history in a given verbal community.” (p. 317)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 20: Personal Control, Quote 4

“The use of force has obvious disadvantages as a controlling technique. It usually requires the sustained attention of the controller. It is almost exclusively concerned with the prevention of behavior, and hence is of little value in increasing the probability of action. It generates strong emotional dispositions to counterattack. It cannot be applied to […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 20: Personal Control, Quote 3

“[The first task of the counselor] is to make sure that the man he is counseling continues to listen and to return for further counsel. If this can be done, other lines of control may then be opened.” (p. 315)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 20: Personal Control, Quote 2

“The kind and extent [of personal control over others] depend upon the personal endowment and skill of the controller. The strong man uses the variables which derive from his strength. The wealthy man resorts to money. The pretty girl uses primary or conditioned sexual reinforcement. The weakling becomes a sycophant. The shrew controls through […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 20: Personal Control, Quote 1

“[In analyzing social interaction,] it is our task to evaluate the various ways in which one person controls another.” (p. 313)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 19: Social Behavior, Quote 7

“The interchanges within a group and the heightened effect of the group upon the environment may be studied within the framework of a natural science.”  (p. 312)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 19: Social Behavior, Quote 6

“The reinforcing consequences generated by the group easily exceed the sums of the consequences which could be achieved by the members acting separately. The total reinforcing effect is enormously increased. The interchanges within a group and the heightened effect of the group upon the environment may be studied within the framework of a natural […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 19: Social Behavior, Quote 5

“The [behavior of the] man attired in full uniform, parading smartly down the street, is reinforced by the acclaim of the crowd even though it would not be forthcoming if he were marching alone.” (p. 312)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 19: Social Behavior, Quote 4

“Situations [where behaving as others behave is likely to be reinforcing] multiplied a thousandfold generate and sustain an enormous tendency to behave as others are behaving.” (p. 312)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 19: Social Behavior, Quote 3

“The group may reinforce the individual for telling the truth, helping others, returning favors, and reinforcing others in turn for doing the same. The Golden Rule is a generalized statement of the behavior thus supported by the group.” (p. 310)
 

 

 

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 19: Social Behavior, Quote 2

“Although many . . . interlocking social systems are stable, others show a progressive change. A trivial example is the behavior of a group of people who enter an unfamiliar room containing a sign which reads, “Silence, please.” . . . After a moment two members least under the control of the sign begin […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 19: Social Behavior, Quote 1

“Social behavior arises because one organism is important to another as part of its environment. A first step, therefore, is an analysis of the social environment and of any special features it may possess.” (p. 298)

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Skinner’s Quote of the Day: Thanksgiving Break

Skinner’s Quote of the Day will be back on Monday, November 28.

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 18: The Self, Quote 6

“The principal realm of the symbol is the dream which occurs when we are asleep. This is a species of private event which is extremely difficult to study and is, therefore, the subject of much conflicting discussion. In a dream the individual engages in private discriminative behavior . . . He sees, hears, feels, […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 18: The Self, Quote 5

“It has been argued that one cannot describe behavior after the fact which one could not have described at the time. This appears to explain our inability to recall the events of infancy, since the behavior of the infant occurs before a repertoire of self-description has been set up and therefore too soon to […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 18: The Self, Quote 4

“It is easy to overestimate the unity of a group of responses, and unfortunately personification encourages us to do so . . . [and] may lead us to expect consistencies and functional integrities which do not exist. The alternative to the use of the concept is simply to deal with demonstrated covariations in the […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 18: The Self, Quote 3

“The best way to dispose of any explanatory fiction is to examine the facts upon which it is based . . . In the present case it appears that a self is simply a device for representing a functionally unified system of responses.” (p. 285)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 18: The Self, Quote 2

“We may quarrel with any analysis which appeals to a self or personality as an inner determiner of action, but the facts which have been represented with such devices cannot be ignored. The three selves or personalities in the Freudian scheme represent important characteristics of behavior in a social milieu.” (pp. 284-285)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 18: The Self, Quote 1

“The self is most commonly used as a hypothetical cause of action. So long as external variables go unnoticed or are ignored, their function is assigned to an originating agent within the organism. If we cannot show what is responsible for a man’s behavior, we say that he himself is responsible for it.” (p. […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 23

“The problem of privacy may . . . eventually be solved by technical advances. But we are still faced with events which occur at the private level and which are important to the organism without instrumental amplification. How the organism reacts to these events will remain an important question, even though the events may […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 22

“We may think before we act in the sense that we may behave covertly before we behave overtly, but our action is not an “expression” of the covert response or the consequence of it. The two are attributable to the same variables.” (p. 279)

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