Human behavior

In this profound and profoundly controversial work, a landmark of 20th-century thought originally published in 1971, B. F. Skinner makes his definitive statement about humankind and society.

Insisting that the problems of the world today can be solved only by dealing much more effectively with human behavior, Skinner argues that our traditional concepts of freedom and dignity must be sharply revised. They have played an important historical role in our struggle against many kinds of tyranny, he acknowledges, but they are now responsible for the futile defense of a presumed free and autonomous individual; they are perpetuating our use of punishment and blocking the development of more effective cultural practices. Basing his arguments on the massive results of the experimental analysis of behavior he pioneered, Skinner rejects traditional explanations of behavior in terms of states of mind, feelings, and other mental attributes in favor of explanations to be sought in the interaction between genetic endowment and personal history. He argues that instead of promoting freedom and dignity as personal attributes, we should direct our attention to the physical and social environments in which people live. It is the environment rather than humankind itself that must be changed if the traditional goals of the struggle for freedom and dignity are to be reached.

Beyond Freedom and Dignity urges us to reexamine the ideals we have taken for granted and to consider the possibility of a radically behaviorist approach to human problems--one that has appeared to some incompatible with those ideals, but which envisions the building of a world in which humankind can attain its greatest possible achievements.
Visit the author's Web site at www.ourinnerape.com

It’s no secret that humans and apes share a host of traits, from the tribal communities we form to our irrepressible curiosity. We have a common ancestor, scientists tell us, so it’s natural that we act alike. But not all of these parallels are so appealing: the chimpanzee, for example, can be as vicious and manipulative as any human.

Yet there’s more to our shared primate heritage than just our violent streak. In Our Inner Ape, Frans de Waal, one of the world’s great primatologists and a renowned expert on social behavior in apes, presents the provocative idea that our noblest qualities—generosity, kindness, altruism—are as much a part of our nature as are our baser instincts. After all, we share them with another primate: the lesser-known bonobo. As genetically similar to man as the chimpanzee, the bonobo has a temperament and a lifestyle vastly different from those of its genetic cousin. Where chimps are aggressive, territorial, and hierarchical, bonobos are gentle, loving, and erotic (sex for bonobos is as much about pleasure and social bonding as it is about reproduction).

While the parallels between chimp brutality and human brutality are easy to see, de Waal suggests that the conciliatory bonobo is just as legitimate a model to study when we explore our primate heritage. He even connects humanity’s desire for fairness and its morality with primate behavior, offering a view of society that contrasts markedly with the caricature people have of Darwinian evolution. It’s plain that our finest qualities run deeper in our DNA than experts have previously thought.

Frans de Waal has spent the last two decades studying our closest primate relations, and his observations of each species in Our Inner Ape encompass the spectrum of human behavior. This is an audacious book, an engrossing discourse that proposes thought-provoking and sometimes shocking connections among chimps, bonobos, and those most paradoxical of apes, human beings.

A groundbreaking exploration of how cyberspace is changing the way we think, feel, and behave

“A must-read for this moment in time.”—Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics • One of the best books of the year—Nature
       
Mary Aiken, the world’s leading expert in forensic cyberpsychology, offers a starting point for all future conversations about how the Internet is shaping development and behavior, societal norms and values, children, safety, privacy, and our perception of the world. Drawing on her own research and extensive experience with law enforcement, Aiken covers a wide range of subjects, from the impact of screens on the developing child to the explosion of teen sexting and the acceleration of compulsive and addictive behaviors online. Aiken provides surprising statistics and incredible-but-true case studies of hidden trends that are shaping our culture and raising troubling questions about where the digital revolution is taking us.

Praise for The Cyber Effect

“How to guide kids in a hyperconnected world is one of the biggest challenges for today’s parents. Mary Aiken clearly and calmly separates reality from myth. She clearly lays out the issues we really need to be concerned about and calmly instructs us on how to keep our kids safe and healthy in their digital lives.”—Peggy Orenstein, author of the New York Times bestseller Girls & Sex

“[A] fresh voice and a uniquely compelling perspective that draws from the murky, fascinating depths of her criminal case file and her insight as a cyber-psychologist . . . This is Aiken’s cyber cri de coeur as a forensic scientist, and she wants everyone on the case.”The Washington Post

“Fascinating . . . If you have children, stop what you are doing and pick up a copy of The Cyber Effect.”—The Times (UK)

“An incisive tour of sociotechnology and its discontents.”Nature

“Just as Rachel Carson launched the modern environmental movement with her Silent Spring, Mary Aiken delivers a deeply disturbing, utterly penetrating, and urgently timed investigation into the perils of the largest unregulated social experiment of our time.”—Bob Woodward
 
“Mary Aiken takes us on a fascinating, thought-provoking, and at times scary journey down the rabbit hole to witness how the Internet is changing the human psyche. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand the temptations and tragedies of cyberspace.—John R. Suler, PhD, author of The Psychology of Cyberspace

“Drawing on a fascinating and mind-boggling range of research and knowledge, Mary Aiken has written a great, important book that terrifies then consoles by pointing a way forward so that our experience online might not outstrip our common sense.”—Steven D. Levitt

“Having worked with law enforcement groups from INTERPOL and Europol as well as the U.S. government, Aiken knows firsthand how today’s digital tools can be exploited by criminals lurking in the Internet’s Dark Net.”Newsweek
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