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Contingencies of Reinforcement. Chapter 1: The Role of the Environment. Quote 7

“Any stimulus present when an operant is reinforced acquires control in the sense that the rate will be higher when it is present. Such a stimulus does not act as a goad; it does not elicit the response in the sense of forcing it to occur. It is simply an essential aspect of the […]

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Contingencies of Reinforcement. Chapter 1: The Role of the Environment. Quote 6

“The class of responses upon which a reinforcer is contingent is called an operant, to suggest the action on the environment followed by reinforcement. We construct an operant by making a reinforcer contingent on a response, but the important fact about the resulting unit is not its topography but its probability of occurrence, observed […]

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Contingencies of Reinforcement. Chapter 1: The Role of the Environment. Quote 5

“By using rate of responding as a dependent variable, it has been possible to formulate the interaction between an organism and its environment more adequately. The kinds of consequences which increase the rate (“reinforcers”) are positive or negative, depending upon whether they reinforce when they appear or when they disappear.” (p. 7)
 

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Contingencies of Reinforcement. Chapter 1: The Role of the Environment. Quote 4

“… by thoroughly adapting the rat to the box before the lever is made available, most of the competing behavior can be “stamped out” before the response to be learned is ever emitted. Thorndike’s learning curve, showing the gradual disappearance of unsuccessful behavior, then vanishes. In its place we are left with a conspicuous […]

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Contingencies of Reinforcement. Chapter 1: The Role of the Environment. Quote 3

“… the full significance of consequences was only slowly recognized. Possibly there was some uneasiness about final causes (How could something which followed behavior have an effect on it?), but a major difficulty lay in the facts … Men sometimes act in ways which bring pain and destroy pleasure, have a questionable net utility, […]

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Contingencies of Reinforcement. Chapter 1: The Role of the Environment. Quote 2

“Every stimulus-response or input-output formulation of behavior suffers from a serious omission. No account of the interchange between organism and environment is complete until it includes the action of the environment upon the organism after a response has been made.” (p. 5)
 

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Contingencies of Reinforcement. Part I: Contingencies Of Reinforcement and the Design of Cultures. Chapter 1 The Role of the Environment. Quote 1.

“[The invention of concepts such as the total stimulus situation, cues, and releasers] was patchwork, designed to salvage the stimulus-response formula, and it had the effect of moving the determination of behavior back into the organism. When external stimuli could not be found, internal had to be invented.” (p. 4)
 

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Contingencies of Reinforcement: A Theoretical Analysis, Preface, Quote 5

“Some of the questions to which a different kind of theory may be addressed are as follows: what aspects of behavior are significant? Of what variables are changes in these aspects a function? How are the relations among behavior and its controlling variables to be brought together in characterizing an organism as a system? […]

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Contingencies of Reinforcement: A Theoretical Analysis, Preface, Quote 4

“Many physiological explanations of behavior seem at the moment to call for hypotheses, but the future lies with techniques of direct observation which will make them unnecessary (see Chapter 9)”. (p. xii)
 

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Contingencies of Reinforcement: A Theoretical Analysis, Preface, Quote 3

“If hypotheses commonly appear in the study of behavior, it is only because the investigator has turned his attention to inaccessible events—some of them fictitious, others irrelevant.” (p. xi)
 

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Contingencies of Reinforcement: A Theoretical Analysis, Preface, Quote 2

“Behavior is one of those subject matters which do not call for hypothetico-deductive methods. Both behavior itself and most of the variables of which it is a function are usually conspicuous.” (p. xi)
 

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Contingencies of Reinforcement: A Theoretical Analysis, Preface, Quote 1

“To guess who is calling when the phone rings seems somehow more admirable than to pick up the phone and find out, although one picks up the phone to confirm the guess.” (p. ix)
 

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Skinner’s Quote of the Day Continues in 2018

Dear Readers,

Starting today, the B. F. Skinner Foundation continues its project Skinner’s Quote of the Day with Contingencies of Reinforcement, 1969. As before, the selected quotes will be published daily Monday through Friday. You can subscribe to the RSS feed here, read it and comment on the website, or join the discussion group on […]

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About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 36

“It is the environment which must be changed. A way of life which furthers the study of human behavior in its relation to that environment should be in the best possible position to solve its major problems.” (pp. 276-277)
 

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By |November 10th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 36|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 35

“A distinguished social philosopher has said, “It is only through a change of consciousness that the world will be saved. Everyone must begin with himself.” But no one can begin with himself; and if he could, it would certainly not be by changing his consciousness.” (p. 276)
 

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By |November 9th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 35|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 34

“We cannot say that a science of behavior has failed, for it has scarcely been tried. And it will not be given a fair trial until its philosophy has been clearly understood.” (p. 276)
 

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By |November 8th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 34|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 33

“When we say that science and technology have created more problems than they have solved, we mean physical and biological science and technology. It does not follow that a technology of behavior will mean further trouble. On the contrary, it may be just what is needed to salvage the other contributions.” (p. 276)
 

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By |November 7th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 33|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 32

“Knowing the basic principles without knowing the details of a practical problem is no closer to a solution than knowing the details without knowing the basic principles.” (p. 276)
 

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By |November 6th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 32|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 31

“We are all so used to being controlled to our disadvantage that to call a person harmless is to imply that he is totally ineffective or feeble-minded.” (p. 268)
 

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By |November 3rd, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 31|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 30

“Contingencies designed for explicit purposes can be called manipulative, though it does not follow that they are exploitative; unarranged contingencies must be recognized as having equal power, and also possibly unhappy consequences.” (p. 268)
 

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By |November 2nd, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 30|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 29

“[Behaviorism] provides an alternative account of the same facts [of daily life]. It does not reduce feelings to bodily states; it simply argues that bodily states are and always have been what are felt. It does not reduce thought processes to behavior; it simply analyzes the behavior previously explained by the invention of thought […]

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By |November 1st, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 29|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 28

“Man . . . is . . . breeding at a dangerous rate, exhausting the world’s resources, polluting the environment, and doing little to relieve the threat of a nuclear holocaust. Nevertheless, if the position I have presented here is correct, he can remedy these mistakes and at the same time build a world […]

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By |October 31st, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 28|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 27

“But man remains what he has always been, and his most conspicuous achievement has been the design and construction of a world which has freed him from constraints and vastly extended his range.” (p. 263)
 

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By |October 30th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 27|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 26

“Behavior is the achievement of a person, and we seem to deprive the human organism of something which is his natural due when we point instead to the environmental sources of his behavior. We do not dehumanize him; we dehomonculize him.” (p. 263)
 

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By |October 27th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 26|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 25

” . . . we can scarcely deny that man is an animal, though a remarkable one. The complaint that Pavlov converted Hamlet’s “How like a god!” into “How like a dog!” was answered by Hamlet himself: “In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The […]

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By |October 26th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 25|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 24

“It has been said . . . that science has reached a limit beyond which it cannot establish the determinacy of physical phenomena, and it has been argued that this may be the point at which freedom emerges in human behavior . . . Similar arguments have proved wrong in the past.” (p. 260)
 

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By |October 25th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 24|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 23

“No one thinks before he acts except in the sense of acting covertly before acting overtly.” (p. 259)
 

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By |October 24th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 23|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 22

“Scientific knowledge is verbal behavior, though not necessarily linguistic. It is a corpus of rules for effective action, and there is a special sense in which it could be “true” if it yields the most effective action possible.” (p. 259)
 

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By |October 23rd, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 22|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 21

“It would be absurd for the behaviorist to contend that he is in any way exempt from his analysis. He cannot step out of the causal stream and observe behavior from some special point of vantage, “perched on the epicycle of Mercury.” In the very act of analyzing human behavior he is behaving—as, in […]

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By |October 20th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 21|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 20

“The disastrous results of common sense in the management of human behavior are evident in every walk of life, from international affairs to the care of a baby, and we shall continue to be inept in all these fields until a scientific analysis clarifies the advantages of a more effective technology. It will then […]

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By |October 19th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 20|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 19

“In spite of the fact that many people find them objectionable, punishment and aversive control are still common, and for a single reason: those who use them are usually immediately reinforced; only the deferred results are objectionable.” (p. 257)
 

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By |October 18th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 19|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 18

“The experimental analysis of behavior is a rigorous, extensive, and rapidly advancing branch of biology, and only those who are unaware of its scope can call it oversimplified.” (p. 255)
 

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By |October 17th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 18|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 17

“A science of behavior is especially vulnerable to the charge of simplification because it is hard to believe that a fairly simple principle can have vast consequences in our lives. We have learned to accept similar apparent discrepancies in other fields. We no longer find it hard to believe that a bacterium or virus […]

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By |October 16th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 17|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 16

“Those who say that a science of behavior is oversimplified and naïve usually show an oversimplified and naïve knowledge of the science, and those who claim that what it has to say is either trivial or already well known are usually unfamiliar with its actual accomplishments.” (p. 253)
 

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By |October 13th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 16|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 15

“Those who feel that they understand what is happening in the world at large may be tested in a very simple way: let them look at the organism as it behaves in a modern experiment and tell us what they see.” (p. 252)
 

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By |October 12th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 15|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 14

“Obviously we cannot predict or control human behavior in daily life with the precision obtained in the laboratory, but we can nevertheless use results from the laboratory to interpret behavior elsewhere.” (p. 251)
 

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By |October 11th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 14|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 13

“There are excellent reasons for beginning with simple cases and moving on only as the power of the analysis permits. If this means, as it seems to mean, that one begins with animals, the emphasis is no doubt upon those features which animals and people have in common. Something is gained, however, since only […]

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By |October 10th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 13|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 12

“Nothing about the position taken in this book questions the uniqueness of each member of the human species, but the uniqueness is inherent in the sources. There is no place in the scientific position for a self as a true originator or initiator of action.” (pp. 247-248)
 

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By |October 9th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 12|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 11

“A member of the human species has identity, in the sense that he is one member and no other. He begins as an organism and becomes a person or self as he acquires a repertoire of behavior. He may become more than one person or self if he acquires more or less incompatible repertoires […]

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By |October 6th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 11|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 10

“Contingencies of reinforcement also resemble contingencies of survival in the production of novelty . . . In both natural selection and operant conditioning the appearance of “mutations” is crucial.” (pp. 246-247)
 

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By |October 5th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 10|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 9

“Evolutionary theory moved the purpose which seemed to be displayed by the human genetic endowment from antecedent design to subsequent selection by contingencies of survival. Operant theory moved the purpose which seemed to be displayed by human action from antecedent intention or plan to subsequent selection by contingencies of reinforcement.” (p. 246)
 

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By |October 4th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 9|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 8

“No matter how defective a behavioral account may be, we must remember that mentalistic explanations explain nothing.” (p. 246)
 

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By |October 3rd, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 8|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 7

“Not only does a behavioral analysis not reject any of these “higher mental processes”; it has taken the lead in investigating the contingencies under which they occur. What it rejects is the assumption that comparable activities take place in the mysterious world of the mind.” (p. 246)
 

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By |October 2nd, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 7|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 6

“It is hard to understand why it is so often said that behaviorism neglects innate endowment. Watson’s careless remark that he could take any healthy infant and convert him into a doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant chief, and, yes, even beggarman or thief can scarcely be responsible, because Watson himself repeatedly referred to the “hereditary […]

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By |September 29th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 6|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 5

“Must we conclude that all those who have speculated about consciousness as a form of self-knowledge—from the Greeks to the British empiricists to the phenomenologists—have wasted their time? Perhaps we must. (p. 243)
 

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By |September 28th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 5|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 4

“A completely independent science of subjective experience would have no more bearing on a science of behavior than a science of what people feel about fire would have on the science of combustion. Nor could experience be divorced from the physical world in the way needed to make such a science possible.” (p. 243)
 

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By |September 27th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 4|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 3

“Other species are also conscious in the sense of being under stimulus control. They feel pain in the sense of responding to painful stimuli, as they see a light or hear a sound in the sense of responding appropriately, but no verbal contingencies make them conscious of pain in the sense of feeling that […]

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By |September 26th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 3|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 2

“No special kind of mind stuff is assumed. A physical world generates both physical action and the physical conditions within the body to which a person responds when a verbal community arranges the necessary contingencies.” (p. 242)
 

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By |September 25th, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 2|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 1

“Introspective knowledge of one’s own body—self-knowledge—is defective for two reasons: the verbal community cannot bring self-descriptive behavior under the precise control of private stimuli, and there has been no opportunity for the evolution of a nervous system which would bring some very important parts of the body under that control.” (p. 242)
 

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By |September 22nd, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 14: Summing Up, Quote 1|

About Behaviorism, Chapter 13: What Is Inside the Skin?, Quote 9

“Just as we cannot appeal to innate endowment to explain grammatical speech, logic, or mathematics because grammar, logic, and mathematics have not been part of the human environment for a long enough time, so we must question any effort to attribute introspective self-knowledge to a nervous system especially adapted to that purpose. Verbal behavior, […]

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By |September 21st, 2017|Skinner's Quote of the Day|Comments Off on About Behaviorism, Chapter 13: What Is Inside the Skin?, Quote 9|