Schedules of Reinforcement

B. F. Skinner Foundation
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The contingent relationship between actions and their consequences lies at the heart of Skinner’s experimental analysis of behavior. Particular patterns of behavior emerge depending upon the contingencies established. Ferster and Skinner examined the effects of different schedules of reinforcement on behavior.

An extraordinary work, Schedules of Reinforcement represents over 70,000 hours of research primarily with pigeons, though the principles have now been experimentally verified with many species including human beings. At first glance, the book appears to be an atlas of schedules. And so it is, the most exhaustive in existence. But it is also a reminder of the power of describing and explaining behavior through an analysis of measurable and manipulative behavior-environment relations without appealing to physiological mechanisms in the brain. As en exemplar and source for the further study of behavioral phenomena, the book illustrates the scientific philosophy that Skinner and Ferster adopted: that a science is best built from the ground up, from a firm foundation of facts that can eventually be summarized as scientific laws.

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About the author

Burrhus Frederic "B. F." Skinner (March 20, 1904 – August 18, 1990) is America’s best known behavioral scientist of the 20th century, as well as an influential author, inventor, and social philosopher. He was the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University from 1958 until his retirement in 1974, and was awarded both National Medal of Science from the National Science Foundation and Humanist of the Year Award from the American Humanist Society. Skinner was a prolific author who published 21 books and 180 articles. A study that appeared in the July 2002 issue of the Review of General Psychology created a ranking of the 99 most influential psychologists. The rankings were based on three main factors: the frequency of journal citations, introductory textbook citations, and the survey responses of 1,725 members of the American Psychological Association. B.F. Skinner topped the list, ranking ahead of Sigmund Freud. Recent years have seen increased interest in B. F. Skinner’s works. The sales of his most well-known books are growing every year. For example, despite a fair share of criticism and controversy, Skinner’s 1957 book, Verbal Behavior, draws more interest today than it did 15 years ago. The B.F. Skinner Foundation, the current publisher of this book, has seen the annual sales more than triple from 1998 to 2012. The main reason for the increased sales is most likely the success of Skinner’s analysis for teaching children with autism to communicate effectively.
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Additional Information

Publisher
B. F. Skinner Foundation
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Published on
May 20, 2015
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Pages
740
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ISBN
9780989983952
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Language
English
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Genres
Psychology / Movements / Behaviorism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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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.
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