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Science and Human Behaviour [Paperback]

B. F. Skinner
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Mar 1965
The psychology classic--a detailed study of scientific theories of human nature and the possible ways in which human behavior can be predicted and controlled--from one of the most influential behaviorists of the twentieth century and the author of "Walden Two." "This is an important book, exceptionally well written, and logically consistent with the basic premise of the unitary nature of science. Many students of society and culture would take violent issue with most of the things that Skinner has to say, but even those who disagree most will find this a stimulating book." --Samuel M. Strong, "The American Journal of Sociology""This is a remarkable book--remarkable in that it presents a strong, consistent, and all but exhaustive case for a natural science of human behavior...It ought to be...valuable for those whose preferences lie with, as well as those whose preferences stand against, a behavioristic approach to human activity." --Harry Prosch, "Ethics"

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Product details

  • Paperback: 462 pages
  • Publisher: The Free Press; New impression edition (1 Mar 1965)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0029290406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029290408
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.7 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 205,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By the middle of the seventeenth century it had come to be understood that the world was enclosed in a sea of air, much as the greater part of it was covered by water. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In 1958 I discovered this book while I was studying for a degree in psychology. It was a completely different approach from what I was being taught. At the time I could not convince my fellow students or lecturers that it was more convincing and applicable than their syllabus.
Since then as a Counselling and Occupational Psychologist, I was increasingly convinced by what Skinner wrote and in this and subsequent books, where he expanded and illustrated the validity and applicability of the guidelines set out in this book. Recently, I bought a new copy from Amazon because my copy had fallen apart though constant use.
Psychology is the science that tries to identify the factors that influence and guide our thoughts, feelings and actions. In this book Skinner sets out clearly with numerous examples the principle that, if desired actions are positively reinforced, then these actions are more likely to be repeated in the future. On the other hand, if undesired actions are negatively reinforced they are less likely to occur. Negative reinforcement means undesired actions are ignored and other actions that help the person escape are positively reinforced. This approach is completely opposite to punishment which tries to forcibly stop undesired action. So if a child misbehaves the normal response is to tell them off, threaten them with punishment or punish them. Did that work when we were children or with our children?
Instead of punishment Skinner suggests we stop reinforcing undesirable behaviour by ignoring our child and waiting until they do something right. Then give them the positive reinforcement of praising them and giving them more of your time and suggesting what they could do to get positive reinforcement from other people or themselves.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic 9 Jun 2009
Format:Paperback
Acknowledged as the most influential psychologist ever, Skinner stands in Social Science as Darwin stands in Biology and Newton stands in Physics.

Being the most recent, Skinner is inevitable the most controversial. It may be century before mankind can abandon its cherished false beliefs and apply Skinner's findings as we now apply those of Newton and Darwin.

Essential reading for anyone seriously seeking to understand humans
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth shall set you beyond free 25 Oct 2007
By calmly
Format:Unknown Binding
1/3 of this book covers basic conditioning as seen in all animals, including humans. Much of this was established experimentally with rats and pigeons but the discussion here is in terms of humans. There are no diagrams or pictures in this section, which can get rather dry.

The remaining 2/3 of the book covers topics associated more with humans such as thinking, private events, the self, institutions and culture. Skinner refers to institutions such as the government, religions, psychotherapy, economic groups and education as "controlling agencies". His scientific approach of these agencies overlaps the artistic rendering of addictive systems by the very different William Burroughs in "Naked Lunch", but between the two of them one can get a good sense of how one's actions are conditioned.

For millenia, for lack of scientific application, speculative systems have been dominate. The Greeks were masters of such systemization, which culminated in "The Enneads" by Plotinus, an amazingly unified and satisfying work consisting almost exclusively of explanatory fictions. Such comfort systems seem to have a strong hold on people. Much of modern psychology is not an advance on "The Enneads". Look at how much of cognitive psychology is speculative, lacking in any experimental confirmation.

There is a great opportunity here for you. At this time, half a century after this book's publication, behaviorism is not well supported. To be sure, there are practicing behaviorists and some excellent progress in the application of behavioral analysis. But behaviorism seems to be heavily resisted, as Skinner himself recognized. This book has excited me. Read it and if it indeed excites you, even as a layperson, see what you can do to apply it and to educate others about it. The opportunity is that there is still a lot to learn about how to apply it in our everyday life. This stuff is too important not to embrace...well, see what you think.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic. Not for everyone 25 April 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is agreat book for anyone who has a good understanding of behavioral psychology. If you do, this book will help explain the concepts employed by psychologists today. It also gives the reader a good feel for the attitudes that prevailed in psychology in the 1950's. If you do not have a strong background in this area, I would suggest reading one of Skinner's later books first.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth shall set you beyond free 10 April 2004
By calmly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
1/3 of this book covers basic conditioning as seen in all animals, including humans. Much of this was established experimentally with rats and pigeons but the discussion here is in terms of humans. There are no diagrams or pictures in this section, which can get rather dry.
The remaining 2/3 of the book covers topics associated more with humans such as thinking, private events, the self, institutions and culture. Skinner refers to institutions such as the government, religions, psychotherapy, economic groups and education as "controlling agencies". His scientific approach of these agencies overlaps the artistic rendering of addictive systems by the very different William Burroughs in "Naked Lunch", but between the two of them one can get a good sense of how one's actions are conditioned.
For millenia, for lack of scientific application, speculative systems have been dominate. The Greeks were masters of such systemization, which culminated in "The Enneads" by Plotinus, an amazingly unified and satisfying work consisting almost exclusively of explanatory fictions. Such comfort systems seem to have a strong hold on people. Much of modern psychology is not an advance on "The Enneads". Look at how much of cognitive psychology is speculative, lacking in any experimental confirmation.
There is a great opportunity here for you. At this time, half a century after this book's publication, behaviorism is not well supported. To be sure, there are practicing behaviorists and some excellent progress in the application of behavioral analysis. But behaviorism seems to be heavily resisted, as Skinner himself recognized. This book has excited me. Read it and if it indeed excites you, even as a layperson, see what you can do to apply it and to educate others about it. The opportunity is that there is still a lot to learn about how to apply it in our everyday life. This stuff is too important not to embrace...well, see what you think.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Critics ignorant of pragmatic value 3 Jun 2003
By B. Kowal - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Unknown Binding
Harsh criticism of Skinner has typically come from arm chair philosophers more concerned with sounding progressive than with helping or understanding people. Science and Human Behavior has contributed and continues to contribute to valuable application and research in Psychology. A standing challenge to any critic would be to find a book that can match Science and Human Behavior's contributions to the application of science for the welfare of humanity.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where it all began (ABA) 3 Jan 2013
By Sarah J. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
One cannot be in this field without this book. A great read. I purchased the hard copy and the ebook for my kindle app. Behaviorism.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science And Human Behavior 8 Jun 2013
By Marya - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We can all learn something from this book. It is well written and easy to understand. Author Skinner does a great job in examining the connect of science and human behavior.
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