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So far julie.vargas@bfskinner.org has created 141 entries.

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 20

“Purpose is not a property of the behavior itself; it is a way of referring to controlling variables . . . The subject himself, of course, may be in an advantageous position in describing these variables because he has had an extended contact with his own behavior for many years. But his statement is […]

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

“Instead of saying that a man behaves because of the consequences which are to follow his behavior, we simply say that he behaves because of the consequences which have followed similar behavior in the past. This is of course, the Law of Effect or operant conditioning.” (p. 87)

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 18

“It is not correct to say that operant reinforcement “strengthens the response which precedes it.” The response has already occurred and cannot be changed. What is changed is the future probability of responses in the same class.  It is the operant as a class of behavior, rather than the response as a particular instance, […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 17

“Several important generalized reinforcers arise when behavior is reinforced by other people. A simple case is attention [Others are approval, affection and submissiveness.]” (p. 78)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 16

“It is possible, however, that some of the reinforcing effect of “sensory feed-back” is unconditioned. A baby appears to be reinforced by stimulation from the environment which has not been followed by primary reinforcement. The baby’s rattle is an example. The capacity to be reinforced in this way could have arisen in the evolutionary […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 15

“One form of precurrent behavior may precede different kinds of reinforcers upon different occasions. The immediate stimulation from such behavior will thus become a generalized reinforcer. We are automatically reinforced, apart from any particular deprivation, when we successfully control the physical world. This may explain our tendency to engage in skilled crafts, in artistic […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 14

“Although it is characteristic of human behavior that primary reinforcers may be effective after long delay, this is presumably only because intervening events become conditioned reinforcers.” (p. 76)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 13

“We cannot dispense with this survey [of reinforcers] simply by asking a man what reinforces him. His reply may be of some value, but it is by no means necessarily reliable. A reinforcing connection need not be obvious to the individual reinforced.” (p.75)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 12

“The difference between the two cases will be clearer when we consider the presentation of a negative reinforcer or the removal of a positive. These are the consequences which we call punishment.” (p. 73)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 11

“Events which are found to be reinforcing are of two sorts. Some reinforcements consist of presenting stimuli, of adding something— for example, food, water, or sexual contact—to the situation. These we call positive reinforcers. Others consist of removing something— for example, a loud noise, a very bright light, extreme cold or heat, or […]

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

“There is nothing circular about classifying events in terms of their effects; the criterion is both empirical and objective. It would be circular, however, if we then went on to assert that a given event strengthens an operant because it is reinforcing.” (p. 73)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 9

“The only way to tell whether or not a given event is reinforcing to a given organism under given conditions is to make a direct test. We observe the frequency of a selected response, then make an event contingent upon it and observe any change in frequency. If there is a change, we classify […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 8

“The condition of low operant strength resulting from extinction often requires treatment. Some forms of psychotherapy are systems of reinforcement designed to reinstate behavior which has been lost through extinction.” (p. 72)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 7

“The failure of a response to be reinforced leads not only to operant extinction but also to a reaction commonly spoken of as frustration or rage. A pigeon which has failed to receive reinforcement turns away from the key, cooing, flapping its wings, and engaging in other emotional behavior.” (p. 69)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 6

“A single reinforcement may have a considerable effect. Under good conditions the frequency of a response shifts from a prevailing low value to a stable high value in a single abrupt step.” (p. 67)

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New Board of Directors Member

David C. Palmer has replaced Brenda Terzich-Garland as a member of the Board of Directors of the B. F. Skinner Foundation. We thank Brenda for her service and look forward to working with Dave over the next few years. Dave has participated in the Foundation’s activities before, and contributed the new Foreword for the […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 5

“While we are awake, we act upon the environment constantly, and many of the consequences of our actions are reinforcing. Through operant conditioning the environment builds the basic repertoire with which we keep our balance, walk, play games, handle instruments and tools, talk, write, sail a boat, drive a car, or fly a plane.” […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 4

“In operant conditioning we “strengthen” an operant in the sense of making a response more probable or, in actual fact, more frequent. In Pavlovian or “respondent” conditioning we simply increase the magnitude of the response elicited by the conditioned stimulus and shorten the time which elapses between stimulus and response.” (p. 65)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 3

“A response which has already occurred cannot, of course, be predicted or controlled. We can only predict that similar responses will occur in the future. The unit of a predictive science is, therefore, not a response but a class of responses. The word “operant” will be used to describe this class. The term emphasizes […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 2

“It is customary to refer to any movement of the organism as a “response.” The word is borrowed from the field of reflex action and implies an act which, so to speak, answers a prior event—the stimulus. But we may make an event contingent upon behavior without identifying, or being able to identify, a […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 5: Operant Behavior, Quote 1

“Learning curves do not, however, describe the basic process of stamping in. Thorndike’s measure—the time taken to escape— involved the elimination of other behavior, and his curve depended upon the number of different things a cat might do in a particular box. It also depended upon the behavior which the experimenter or the apparatus […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 4: Reflexes and Conditioned Reflexes, Quote 5

“[Respondent] conditioning adds new controlling stimuli, but not new responses. In using the principle, therefore, we are not subscribing to a “conditioned reflex theory” of all behavior. (p. 56)

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New edition of Operants delivered to subscribers

As promised, Operants magazine has transitioned from a quarterly publication to six editions per year. The January-February, 2016 issue has been delivered to subscribers and it features a wealth of material on the history of behavioral science. Enjoy a trip back in time to B. F. Skinner’s early years at Harvard and learn who […]

Behavior of Organisms available in e-book formats

B. F. Skinner’s first book, The Behavior of Organisms is now available in electronic formats. Exclusive to the B. F. Skinner Foundation’s bookstore (http://www.bfskinner.org/shop-2/) is the PDF, priced at $0.99. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior and other PDFs are $0.99 as well, and Science and Human Behavior is free. These PDFs are Name-Your-Price products. That means […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 4: Reflexes and Conditioned Reflexes, Quote 4

“Pavlov’s achievement was the discovery, not of neural processes, but of important quantitative relations which permit us, regardless of neurological hypotheses, to give a direct account of behavior in the field of the conditioned reflex.” (p. 54)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 4: Reflexes and Conditioned Reflexes, Quote 3

“Only a quantitative description will make sure that there is no additional mental process in which the dog “associates the sound of the tone with the idea of food” or in which it salivates because it “expects” food to appear. Pavlov could dispense with concepts of this sort only when he could give a […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 4: Reflexes and Conditioned Reflexes, Quote 2

“By its very nature, spontaneity must yield ground as a scientific analysis is able to advance.” (p. 48)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 4: Reflexes and Conditioned Reflexes, Quote 1

“By eliminating some conditions, holding others constant, and varying others in an orderly manner, basic lawful relations could be established without dissection and could be expressed without neurological theories.” (p. 48)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 3: Why Organisms Behave, Quote 13

“. . . the time has come when we must admit that we cannot solve the important problems in human affairs with a general “philosophy of human behavior.” The present analysis requires considerable attention to detail.” (p. 42)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 3: Why Organisms Behave, Quote 12

“The commonest objection to a thoroughgoing functional analysis is simply that it cannot be carried out, but the only evidence for this is that it has not yet been carried out.” (p. 41)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 3: Why Organisms Behave, Quote 11

“By confining ourselves to these observable events, we gain a considerable advantage, not only in theory, but in practice.” (p. 36)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 3: Why Organisms Behave, Quote 10

“It is no help to be told that to get an organism to drink we are simply to “make it thirsty” unless we are also told how this is to be done. When we have obtained the necessary prescription for thirst, the whole proposal is more complex than it need be. . . . […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 3: Why Organisms Behave, Quote 9

“The practice of looking inside the organism for an explanation of behavior has tended to obscure the variables which are immediately available for a scientific analysis. These variables lie outside the organism, in its immediate environment and in its environmental history.” (p. 31)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 3: Why Organisms Behave, Quote 8

“. . . such terms as “hunger,” “habit,” and “intelligence” convert what are essentially the properties of a process or relation into what appear to be things. Thus we are unprepared for the properties eventually to be discovered in the behavior itself and continue to look for something which may not exist.” (p. 31)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 3: Why Organisms Behave, Quote 7

“But on analysis these phrases prove to be merely redundant descriptions. A single set of facts is described by the two statements: “He eats” and “He is hungry.” A single set of facts is described by the two statements: “He smokes a great deal” and “He has the smoking habit.” A single set of […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 3: Why Organisms Behave, Quote 6

“Since mental or psychic events are asserted to lack the dimensions of physical science, we have an additional reason for rejecting them.” (p. 30-31)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 3: Why Organisms Behave, Quote 5

“The fictional nature of this form of inner cause is shown by the ease with which the mental process is discovered to have just the properties needed to account for the behavior.” (p. 30)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 3: Why Organisms Behave, Quote 4

“Eventually a science of the nervous system based upon direct observation rather than inference will describe the neural states and events which immediately precede instances of behavior. We shall know the precise neurological conditions which immediately precede, say, the response, “No, thank you.” These events in turn will be found to be preceded by […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 3: Why Organisms Behave, Quote 3

“There is nothing wrong with an inner explanation as such, but events which are located inside a system are likely to be difficult to observe. For this reason we are encouraged to assign properties to them without justification. Worse still, we can invent causes of this sort without fear of contradiction.” (p. 27)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 3: Why Organisms Behave, Quote 2

“The most that can be said is that the knowledge of the genetic factor may enable us to make better use of other causes. If we know that an individual has certain inherent limitations, we may use our techniques of control more intelligently, but we cannot alter the genetic factor.” (p. 26)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 3: Why Organisms Behave, Quote 1

“We want to know why men behave as they do. Any condition or event which can be shown to have an effect upon behavior must be taken into account. By discovering and analyzing these causes we can predict behavior; to the extent that we can manipulate them, we can control behavior.” (p. 23)

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 2 A Science of Behavior?, Quote 11

“A science of behavior which concerns only the behavior of groups is not likely to be of help in our understanding of the particular case. But a science may also deal with the behavior of the individual, and its success in doing so must be evaluated in terms of its achievements rather than any […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 2 A Science of Behavior?, Quote 10

“A final answer to the problem of lawfulness is to be sought, not in the limits of any hypothetical mechanism within the organism, but in our ability to demonstrate lawfulness in the behavior of the organism as a whole. (p. 17)
 

 

 

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 2 A Science of Behavior?, Quote 9

“It has sometimes been pointed out, for example, that physical science has been unable to maintain its philosophy of determinism, particularly at the subatomic level. The Principle of Indeterminacy states that there are circumstances under which the physicist cannot put himself in possession of all relevant information: if he chooses to observe one event, […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 2 A Science of Behavior?, Quote 8

“When a science of behavior reaches the point of dealing with lawful relationships, it meets the resistance of those who give their allegiance to prescientific or extrascientific conceptions. The resistance does not always take the form of an overt rejection of science. It may be transmuted into claims of limitations, often expressed in highly […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 2 A Science of Behavior?, Quote 7

“We all know thousands of facts about behavior. Actually there is no subject matter with which we could be better acquainted, for we are always in the presence of at least one behaving organism. But this familiarity is something of a disadvantage, for we have probably jumped to conclusions which will not be supported […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 2 A Science of Behavior?, Quote 6

“In a later stage science advances from the collection of rules or laws to larger systematic arrangements. Not only does it make statements about the world, it makes statements about statements. It sets up a “model” of its subject matter, which helps to generate new rules very much as the rules themselves generate new […]

Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 2 A Science of Behavior?, Quote 5

“Science is, of course, more than a set of attitudes. It is a search for order, for uniformities, for lawful relations among the events in nature.” (p. 13)
 

 

 

 

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 2 A Science of Behavior?, Quote 4

“Scientists have also discovered the value of remaining without an answer until a satisfactory one can be found. This is a difficult lesson.” (p. 13)
 

 

 

 

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Science and Human Behavior, Chapter 2 A Science of Behavior?, Quote 3

“Experiments do not always come out as one expects, but the facts must stand and the expectations fall. The subject matter, not the scientist, knows best.” (p. 13)
 

 

 

 

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