The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis

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B. F. Skinner Foundation, 2019 - Psychology

With the publication of his first book, The Behavior of Organisms (1938), B. F. Skinner launched a new science based on selection by consequences as the mechanism through which behavior changes during the lifetime of the individual. The book summarizes nearly ten years of research, spanning the years of Skinner's graduate school days at Harvard through his three years as a member of the Society of Fellows. In the book, Skinner defines his basic unit of behavior, which he named the operant, proposes rate as the basic datum, and describes his research program–to identify the variables of which behavior is a function.

After publication of The Behavior of Organisms, Skinner continued research and writing at the University of Minnesota and at Indiana University before returning in 1948 to Harvard. He extended his scientific analysis to the design of cultures in Walden Two (1948), to verbal behavior (Verbal Behavior, 1957), and to the field of education (The Technology of Teaching, 1968). In 1971 Skinner published a best seller, Beyond Freedom and Dignity, addressing the implications of behavioral science for traditional notions of control. These endeavors, and many other articles and books, had their origins in The Behavior of Organisms which opened up a new frontier in the understanding of behavior.

Foreword for the e-book edition by W. H. Morse

 

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Contents

A SYSTEM OF BEHAVIOR
SCOPE AND METHOD
CONDITIONING AND EXTINCTION
PERIODIC RECONDITIONING
THE DISCRIMINATION OF A STIMULUS
SOME FUNCTIONS OF STIMULI
TEMPORAL DISCRIMINATION OF THE STIMULUS
THE DIFFERENTIATION OF A RESPONSE
DRIVE
THE INTERACTION OF TWO VARIABLES
OTHER VARIABLES AFFECTING REFLEX STRENGTH
BEHAVIOR AND THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
INDEX
Copyright

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About the author (2019)

B. F. Skinner (1904-1990), America's most influential behavioral scientist, authored over 20 books and nearly 200 articles. He served as the Psychology Department Chair at the University of Indiana and later became the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University until his retirement in 1974. His contributions to psychology have incited an abundance of developments and remain relevant in the field today.

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