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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 11: Aversion, avoidance, anxiety, Quote 7

“In the design of controlling techniques the possibility of generating anxiety as an unfortunate by-product must constantly be kept in mind.” (p. 179)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 11: Aversion, avoidance, anxiety, Quote 6

“Although the biological advantage of avoidance is obvious, the emotional pattern of anxiety appears to serve no useful purpose. It interferes with the normal behavior of the individual and may even disorganize avoidance behavior which would otherwise be effective in dealing with the circumstances.” (p. 178)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 11: Aversion, avoidance, anxiety, Quote 5

“Although avoidance suggests that behavior may be influenced by an event which does not occur, we may account for the effect without violating any fundamental principle of science with the concept of conditioned negative reinforcement.” (p. 176)

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Operants Podcast

Operants podcast is available for download. Sheila Habarad hosts Dr. Julie Vargas, Dr. Joyce Tu, Bruna Colombo dos Santos, and Monalisa Leão. Duration: 1 hour 5 minutes. Here is the link: http://www.bfskinner.org/podcasts/

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 11: Aversion, avoidance, anxiety, Quote 4

“An important example of [the] use of aversive conditioning is the practice of branding an act wrong or sinful. Any behavior which reduces the stimulation arising from the early stages of such an act is then negatively reinforced . . . Many problems in psychotherapy arise from the strength and duration of this effect […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 11: Aversion, avoidance, anxiety, Quote 3

“It is not difficult to show that an organism which is reinforced by the withdrawal of certain conditions should have an advantage in natural selection.” (p. 173)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 11: Aversion, avoidance, anxiety, Quote 2

“Just as we did not define a positive reinforcer as pleasant or satisfying, so in defining a negative reinforcer in terms of its power to reinforce when withdrawn we do not assert that the stimulus is unpleasant or annoying.” (p. 173)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 11: Aversion, avoidance, anxiety, Quote 1

“Painful stimuli are generally aversive, but not necessarily so—as a counterirritant shows. Stimuli which have acquired their aversive power in the process of conditioning are especially unlikely to possess identifying physical properties. A stimulus is known to be aversive only if its removal is reinforcing.” (p. 171)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 10: Emotions, Quote 8

“Moods and dispositions represent a kind of second-order probability—the probability that a given circumstance will raise the probability of a given response.” (p. 169)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 10: Emotions, Quote 7

“A man does not neglect his business because of anxiety or worry. Such a statement is at best merely a way of classifying a particular kind of neglect. The only valid cause is the external condition of which the behavior of neglect, as part of an emotional pattern known as anxiety or worry, can […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 10: Emotions, Quote 6

“It does not help in the solution of a practical problem to be told that some feature of a man’s behavior is due to frustration or anxiety; we also need to be told how the frustration or anxiety has been induced and how it may be altered. In the end, we find ourselves dealing […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 10: Emotions, Quote 5

“Responses that vary together in an emotion do so in part because of a common consequence . . . Some of the behavior involved in an emotion is apparently unconditioned, however, and in that case the grouping must be explained by evolutionary consequences.” (p. 163)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 10: Emotions, Quote 4

“In casual discourse and for many scientific purposes some such way of referring to current strength in terms of the variables of which it is a function is often desirable. But so defined, an emotion, like a drive, is not to be identified with physiological or psychic conditions.” (p.163)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 10: Emotions, Quote 3

“When the man in the street says that someone is afraid or angry or in love, he is generally talking about predispositions to act in certain ways . . . and something like the layman’s mode of classification has a place in a scientific analysis.” (p. 162)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 10: Emotions, Quote 2

“In the search for what is happening “in emotion” the scientist has found himself at a peculiar disadvantage. Where the layman identifies and classifies emotions not only with ease but with considerable consistency, the scientist in focusing upon responses of glands and smooth muscles and upon expressive behavior has not been sure that he […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 10: Emotions, Quote 1

“The “emotions” are excellent examples of the fictional causes to which we commonly attribute behavior.” (p. 160)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 9: Deprivation and Satiation, Quote 8

“Behavior is as much a part of the organism as are its anatomical features . . . Since we cannot change the species of an organism, the variable is of no importance in extending our control, but information about species-status enables us to predict characteristic behavior and, in turn, to make more successful use […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 9: Deprivation and Satiation, Quote 7

“Behavior which is characteristic of a species is attributed to an instinct (of uncertain location or properties) said to be possessed by all members of the species. This is a flagrant example of an explanatory fiction . . . If the instinct of nest-building refers only to the observed tendency of certain kinds of […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 9: Deprivation and Satiation, Quote 6

“We could say that the eating of salty hors d’oeuvres makes a guest thirsty and that his thirst then drives him to drink. It is simpler, in both theory and practice, to restrict ourselves to the fact that consuming salty hors d’oeuvres leads to drinking.” (p.147)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 9: Deprivation and Satiation, Quote 5

“So long as the inner event [e.g., need or want] is inferred, it is in no sense an explanation of behavior and adds nothing to a functional account.” (pp. 143-144)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 9: Deprivation and Satiation, Quote 4

“Needs and wants are likely to be thought of as psychic or mental, while hungers are more readily conceived of as physiological. But the terms are freely used when nothing with these dimensions has been observed. Sometimes the inner operation is inferred from the operation responsible for the strength of the behavior . . […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 9: Deprivation and Satiation, Quote 3

“Not all deprivation or satiation is concerned with the conspicuous interchange of materials. A man may be “deprived of physical exercise” if he is kept indoors by bad weather; as a result he is especially likely to be active when the weather clears. Here, deprivation consists merely of preventing the occurrence of behavior, and […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 9: Deprivation and Satiation, Quote 2

“In the search for what is happening “in emotion” the scientist has found himself at a peculiar disadvantage. Where the layman identifies and classifies emotions not only with ease but with considerable consistency, the scientist in focusing upon responses of glands and smooth muscles and upon expressive behavior has not been sure that he […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 9: Deprivation and Satiation, Quote 1

“The discovery that part of the behavior of an organism was under the control of the environment led, as we have seen, to an unwarranted extension of the notion of the stimulus. Writers began to infer stimuli where none could be observed and to include various internal conditions in a “total stimulating situation.” (p. […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 8: The Controlling Environment, Quote 12

“Our “perception” of the world—our “knowledge” of it —is our behavior with respect to the world. It is not to be confused with the world itself or with other behavior with respect to the world or with the behavior of others with respect to the world.” (p. 140)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 8: The Controlling Environment, Quote 11

“. . . “interpretation” is like . . . “attention” . . . we need not find a particular form of behavior to be identified with it. We “interpret” a stimulus as smoke insofar as we tend to respond with behavior appropriate to smoke. We “interpret” it as fog insofar as the probability of […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 8: The Controlling Environment, Quote 10

“We operate in one world—the world of physics. Organisms are part of that world, and they react to it in many ways. Responses may be consistent with each other or inconsistent, but there is usually little difficulty in accounting for either case.” (p. 139)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 8: The Controlling Environment, Quote 9

“Responses to some forms of stimulation are more likely to be “right” than responses to others, in the sense that they are more likely to lead to effective behavior. Naturally these modes are favored, but any suggestion that they bring us closer to the “real” world is out of place here.” (p. 139)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 8: The Controlling Environment, Quote 8

“What happens when an organism responds “as if” a stimulus had other properties? Such behavior seems to indicate that the “perceptual” world—the world as the organism experiences it—is different from the real world. But the difference is actually between responses—between the responses of two organisms or between the responses of one organism under different […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 8: The Controlling Environment, Quote 7

“Stimulus induction on the basis of a “relation” presents no difficulty in a natural science if the relation can be described in physical terms. Where this appears not to be the case, we have to turn to other possibilities . . . ” (p. 138)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 8: The Controlling Environment, Quote 6

“Actually it is possible to condition an organism either to choose the larger of two objects or to choose a particular size no matter what the size of an accompanying object. The relational case is important in most environments. As the organism moves about in space, reinforcements are generally contingent upon relative, rather than […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 8: The Controlling Environment, Quote 5

“An adequate solution [of the problem of induction from one sensory field to another] would require an experimental analysis of the various auxiliary processes through which stimulus control can be extended.” (p. 137)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 8: The Controlling Environment, Quote 4

“An organism will not acquire an abstract response until a reinforcing agency sets up the required contingency. There are no “natural” contingencies which reinforce a response in the presence of a single property without respect to other properties. The necessary contingency apparently requires the mediation of other organisms.” (p. 135-136)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 8: The Controlling Environment, Quote 3

“Abstraction, too, is not a form of action on the part of the organism. It is simply a narrowing of the control exercised by the properties of stimuli. The controlling property cannot be demonstrated upon a single occasion. In other words, a single instance of an abstract response will not tell us very much […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 8: The Controlling Environment, Quote 2

“We are interested, of course, only in conditions or events which have an effect upon behavior. The electromagnetic radiation of radio and television has no effect upon the unequipped organism, except perhaps at very high energy levels. We do not say that the radiation is “not a stimulus because it does not stimulate.” We […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 8: The Controlling Environment, Quote 1

“No matter what our philosophy of behavior may be, we are not likely to deny that the world about us is important. We may disagree as to the nature or extent of the control which it holds over us, but some control is obvious. Behavior must be appropriate to the occasion . . . […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 7: Operant Discrimination, Quote 23

“Just as we may attend to an object without looking at it, so we may look at an object without attending to it. We need not conclude that we must then be looking with an inferior sort of behavior in which the eyes are not correctly used. The criterion is whether the stimulus is […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 7: Operant Discrimination, Quote 22

“Attention is a controlling relation—the relation between a response and a discriminative stimulus. When someone is paying attention he is under special control of a stimulus.” (p. 123)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 7: Operant Discrimination, Quote 21

“The control exerted by a discriminative stimulus is traditionally dealt with under the heading of attention. This concept reverses the direction of action by suggesting, not that a stimulus controls the behavior of an observer, but that the observer attends to the stimulus and thereby controls it.” (p. 122)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 7: Operant Discrimination, Quote 20

“Although imitative responses approach a continuous field, that condition is probably never reached. The duplication of the stimulus is often not precise, and the “grain” of the repertoire with which even the good mimic duplicates behavior may be apparent.” (p. 121)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 7: Operant Discrimination, Quote 19

“When we learn the names of a large number of people, we do not expect either the visual patterns which the people present or their names to form continuous fields. The repertoire remains a collection of discrete units.” (p. 117)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 7: Operant Discrimination, Quote 18

“In the behavior of reaching toward and touching a spot in the visual field, each position which the spot may occupy requires a particular combination of reaching and touching movements . . . in the central area all positions of the spot comprise a continuous field and all possible combinations of movements leading to […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 7: Operant Discrimination, Quote 17

“Behavior is the coherent, continuous activity of an integral organism. Although it may be analyzed into parts for theoretical or practical purposes, we need to recognize its continuous nature in order to solve certain common problems.” (p. 116)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 7: Operant Discrimination, Quote 16

“We do not hold people responsible for their reflexes—for example, for coughing in church. We hold them responsible for their operant behavior— for example, for whispering in church or remaining in church while coughing. But there are variables which are responsible for whispering as well as for coughing, and these may be just as […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 7: Operant Discrimination, Quote 15

“It is not so easy to determine whether we can condition purely reflex responses in striped muscles through operant reinforcement. The difficulty is that an operant response may arise which simply imitates the reflex. One may sneeze, for example, not only because of the pepper but because of special social consequences—”He only does it […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 7: Operant Discrimination, Quote 14

“Since we ordinarily lack anything like adequate knowledge of all these [historical] variables, it is simpler to assume that the behavior is determined by the guest’s will—that he will come if he wants to and wills to do so. But the assumption is of neither theoretical nor practical value, for we still have to […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 7: Operant Discrimination, Quote 13

“It is natural that the “will” as an inner explanation of behavior should have survived longer in the study of operant behavior, where the control exercised by the environment is more subtle and indirect.” (p.112)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 7: Operant Discrimination, Quote 12

“The distinction between voluntary and involuntary behavior is a matter of the kind of control.” (p. 112)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 7: Operant Discrimination, Quote 11

“To ask whether someone can turn a handspring is merely to ask whether there are circumstances under which he will do so.” (p. 112)

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The Technology of Teaching available in e-book formats

The collection of B. F. Skinner’s works on education, The Technology of Teaching, is now available in electronic formats. Exclusive to the B. F. Skinner Foundation’s bookstore is the PDF, priced at $0.99.

Rating on Amazon for the print version of The Technology of Teaching is 5 stars out 5. Here is what one reviewer […]