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So far julie.vargas@bfskinner.org has created 279 entries.

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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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 21

“Private problem-solving usually consists of a mixture of discriminative and manipulative responses . . . In mental arithmetic one multiplies, divides, transposes, and so on, seeing the result in each case, until a solution is reached.” (p. 273)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 20

“A discriminative [operant] response which can be made when the appropriate stimulus is absent has certain advantages. It does not require the sometimes troublesome precurrent behavior which generates an external stimulus, and it can occur when such behavior is impossible—as when we daydream of a lost love or an opportunity which is wholly out […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 19

“The practical task of generating conditioned stimuli of special effectiveness is an important one, as the artist, writer, and composer know. If it is possible to reinforce a man with the “beauties of nature,” it is usually possible to reinforce him also with conditioned stimuli which evoke responses of seeing the beauties of nature.” […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 18

“A man may see or hear “stimuli which are not present” on the pattern of the conditioned reflex: he may see X, not only when X is present, but when any stimulus which has frequently accompanied X is present. The dinner bell not only makes our mouth water, it makes us see food. In […]

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

“Verbal behavior, however, can occur at the covert level because it does not require the presence of a particular physical environment for its execution. Moreover, it may remain effective at the covert level because the speaker himself is also a listener and his verbal behavior may have private consequences.” (p. 264)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 16

“Another possibility [than control by private events] is that when an individual appears to describe unemitted behavior, he is actually describing a history of variables which would enable an independent observer to describe the behavior in the same way if a knowledge of the variables were available to him.” (p. 263)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 15

“I was on the point of going home” may be regarded as the equivalent of “I observed events in myself which characteristically precede or accompany my going home.” (p. 262)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 14

“Such responses as “I’m strongly inclined to go home” or “I shall go home in half an hour” also describe states of affairs which appear to be accessible only to the speaker. How can the verbal community establish responses of this sort? A possible explanation is that the terms are established as part of […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 13

“An important verbal repertoire describes one’s own behavior. It is generated by a community which insists upon answers to such questions as “What did you say?” “What are you doing?” “What are you going to do?” or “Why are you doing that?” (p. 262)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 12

“Now, self-observation is also the product of discriminative contingencies, and if a discrimination cannot be forced by the community, it may never arise. Strangely enough, it is the community which teaches the individual to “know himself.” (p. 260-261)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 11

“The environment, whether public or private, appears to remain undistinguished until the organism is forced to make a distinction.” (p. 260)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 10

“There is no effective answer to the student who insists, after being corrected, that that was what he “meant to say,” but the existence of this private event is not accepted with any confidence.” (p. 260)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 9

“Verbal responses which are acquired with respect to public events may be transferred to private events on the basis of common properties. It has often been pointed out that many subjective terms are metaphorical, at least in origin . . . Here again the community cannot guarantee an accurate verbal repertoire because the response […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 8

“The community may resort to public accompaniments of the private event. For example, it may establish a verbal response to an aching tooth by presenting or withholding reinforcement according to a special condition of the tooth which almost certainly accompanies the private event or according to violent collateral responses such as holding the jaw […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 7

“The verbal response “red” is established as a discriminative operant by a community which reinforces the response when it is made in the presence of red stimuli and not otherwise. This can easily be done if the community and the individual both have access to red stimuli. It cannot be done if either the […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 6

“The contribution which a science of behavior can make in suggesting an alternative [to the psychophysical dualism] point of view is perhaps one of its most important achievements. No discussion of the implications of science for an understanding of human behavior would be complete without at least a brief review of this contribution.” (p. […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 5

“The picture which emerges is almost always dualistic. The scientist humbly admits that he is describing only half the universe, and he defers to another world—a world of mind or consciousness—for which another mode of inquiry is assumed to be required.” (p. 258)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 4

“These questions [of private events] may not be of interest to all readers . . . Fortunately, the issue is seldom crucial in the practical control of human behavior. The reader whose interests are essentially practical and who may now prefer to move on to later chapters may do so without serious trouble. Nevertheless, […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 3

“In studying behavior we may have to deal with the stimulation from a tooth as an inference rather than as a directly observable fact. But if some of the independent variables of which behavior is a function are not directly accessible, what becomes of a functional analysis? How are such variables to be treated?” […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 2

“We need not suppose that events which take place within an organism’s skin have special properties for that reason. A private event may be distinguished by its limited accessibility but not, so far as we know, by any special structure or nature.” (p. 257)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 17: Private Events in a Natural Science, Quote 1

“When we say that behavior is a function of the environment, the term “environment” presumably means any event in the universe capable of affecting the organism. But part of the universe is enclosed within the organism’s own skin.” (p. 257)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 16: Thinking, Quote 23

“The present analysis should lead to an improvement in educational practices. If our account of thinking is essentially correct, there is no reason why we cannot teach a man how to think.” (p. 256)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 16: Thinking, Quote 22

“So long as originality is identified with spontaneity or an absence of lawfulness in behavior, it appears to be a hopeless task to teach a man to be original or to influence his process of thinking in any important way.” (p. 256)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 16: Thinking, Quote 21

“A formulation of creative thinking within the framework of a natural science may be offensive to those who prize their conception of the individual in control of the world about him.” (p. 256)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 16: Thinking, Quote 20

“James Watt’s invention of the steam engine seems much less miraculous when we have once learned about the earlier forms of the engine upon which his contribution was based.” (pp. 255-256)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 16: Thinking, Quote 19

“The question of originality can be disposed of, however, by providing plausible accounts of the way in which a given idea might have occurred.” (p. 255)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 16: Thinking, Quote 18

“Educational agencies established by the group provide for the transmission of the results of environmental contingencies from one individual to another, and it becomes possible for the individual to acquire effective behavior on a vast scale.” (p. 255)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 16: Thinking, Quote 17

“As time passes men react to more and more subtle features of the world about them and in more and more effective ways. The accumulation of behavior is made possible by the growth of a social environment which forces modern man to respond to differences which only very slowly gained control of the behavior […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 16: Thinking, Quote 16

“Reinforcing contingencies shape the behavior of the individual, and novel contingencies generate novel forms of behavior. Here, if anywhere, originality is to be found.” (p. 255)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 16: Thinking, Quote 15

“Man is now in much better control of the world than were his ancestors, and this suggests a progress in discovery and invention in which there appears to be a strong element of originality. But we could express this fact just as well by saying that the environment is now in better control of […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 16: Thinking, Quote 14

“We may . . . acknowledge the emergence of novel ideas, in the sense of responses never made before under the same circumstances, without implying any element of originality in the individuals who “have” them.” (p. 255)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 16: Thinking, Quote 13

“When a pattern of manipulation has never been applied to a particular case before, the result is, in a sense, new . . . We reserve the term “original” for those ideas which result from manipulations of variables which have not followed a rigid formula and in which the ideas have other sources of […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 16: Thinking, Quote 12

“We saw that self-control rests ultimately with the environmental variables which generate controlling behavior and, therefore, originates outside the organism. There is a parallel issue in the field of ideas. Is an idea ever original?” (p. 254)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 16: Thinking, Quote 11

“The artistic exploration of a medium may, however, proceed in the absence of any explicit problem . . . The general problem is simply to come up with something new.” (p. 254)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 16: Thinking, Quote 10

“Instances have been described in which a mathematician abandons a problem after working on it for a long time, only to have the solution “pop into his head” quite unexpectedly at a later date. It is tempting to suppose that he has continued to work on the problem “unconsciously” and that his solution follows […]