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on 11 February 1999
Skinner in this book does what he fails to do in many of his other works, make it readable for the mass audience. B.F. Skinner has made a lasting impression on the field of psychology by his unbelievable attention to detail and the bredth of applicaiton that his work has. This book covers most areas of his analysis, that are more fully described in other places, in a user friendly manner and makes accessible for the lay person his explanations in easy to follow examples. This is an excellent primmer to Skinner.
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on 10 August 2007
This book offers a challenging alternative to what many will believe without question; that is, that we are free souls with inner agents and thoughts that guide our behaviour. This fine introduction to the behaviorist position offers the opposite view. It states, very simply, that behavioural responses are learnt through interaction with environmental stimuli and that behaviour is determined and not free at all. Skinner also attempts to address some of the commonly held myths surrounding the philosophy of behaviorism such as there is no place for the self or that thinking should be disregarded. As a radical behaviorist Skinner simply states that thinking is internalised behavior shaped by the same contingencies of reinforcement as other learnt responses. Now that's something interesting to think about!
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Skinner for all his rationalism could never get to grips with emotions. They were things he could never embody. For he was the type of man who could avidly dissect a musical score and let you know the notes, quavers and semi-tones but tell you nothing about why the hairs stand up at the back of the neck - when hearing a symphony. And if he could, he would tell you the music was a stimulus. Therefore you were pre-conditioned to hear certain sounds and then respond to them. As such you have no social agency as you are the product of an ongoing conditioning.

Now to some extent Skinner is correct, most people are dupes. But then again they are not. Yes people are conditioned to buy fashion, music, make-up, cars, holidays - to no longer think and then just walk in endless straight lines. However underneath this social presentation is a great deal of gurgling anger.

But Skinner is not interested in people playing roles and feeling alienated. This is because, for him they are responding to a different set of stimuli which is making them feel that way. It is nothing to do with how they truly think, because there is no such thing as personal authenticity or will. Instead this is just something people they believe in, because they have been conditioned to believe in these terms.

So we have the greatest theory which explains everything, or something which is used to manage the appearances within the modern world and make everyone conform to a pre formed template. My money is on the latter. This creed was beloved of the rationalists because it allowed them to measure everything and turn life into maths.

Here the creed it is fairly readable, although when he started writing about perception and thinking it took me a while of re reading to understand his concepts. But once you understand the basics - stimuli, generalisation, discrimination, operant conditioning, response, extinguish, negative punishment, positive punishment and the links he makes to evolution and genetics the full scale of the iron prison he inhabits finally emerges.

Within this book he answers his cognitive critics, a slight step forward as they believed the brain was a computer rather than a machine. It appears each era wants to recreate man within the image of the dominant mode of production. First it was the machine and then it was the computer. Skinner however converts human into maths.

Skinner has had a huge impact on psychology and the 21st Century, as he built the mind prison in which we in the West gladly inhabit, except we no longer see the bars. That is his great accomplishment for humanity.
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on 19 March 2015
Skinner's About Behaviorism is essential reading for anyone interested in the real causes of human behaviour. As a behavioural researcher I am hugely influenced by Skinner's work. Although I have to say his theoretical and practical contributions to the field of psychology are hugely oppressed by Cognitive theorists who prefer to conceptualise behaviour as a product of innate, hypothetical constructs.

Many misunderstand Skinner and refer to him as a crypto-fascist, or communist, or would-be dictator. In reality his work reveals how we are controlled (usually maliciously) by hierarchical agents such as governments, schools, and society at large. A thorough, honest application of Radical Behaviourism to society in general would undoubtedly result in the wholesale collapse of coercive agencies and instead replace them with humane institutions who attract dedicated peoples interested in helping others, rather than pathological power seekers as is the current reality. In essence Skinner's work is the foundation of a science of human freedom, flourishing, and happiness.

In terms of the book itself Skinner can be a bit dense and it takes a careful reading, and you would have to read more to fully appreciate his ideas, but as a lexicon of Radical Behaviourism it serves its perfect fantastically. I recommend this book to all my students and highly recommend it to any psychology student who questions, even slightly, the dogmatic proclamations of so called Cognitive Psychologists.
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on 4 January 2015
Skinner's "About Behaviourism" is a fascinating introduction to a philosophy/ideology so misrepresented in the media and textbooks alike.

People tend to muddle up Watson's and Pavlov' early behaviour (called methodological behaviourism here) and Skinner's more sophisticated radical version of the 1940s and 1950s. They also seem to believe that Chomsky had rebutted Skinner- but nothing could be further from the truth.

The book begins with 20 criticisms of radical behaviourism. These are addressed throughout the books and rebutted in summary form in the very last chapter.

Skinner is a very powerful and convincing writer. His style is succinct and pithy. To me, it's like the best prose. I just can't stop reading this book.
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on 8 May 2015
Fascinating insight into behaviour by B G Skinner. Skinner's famous researched into behaviour, by using his famous Skinner Box to see if conditioning animals could also be done on humans, is a must read. Anyone studying Psychology or starting out would find the book fascinating and a great help.
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on 27 February 2016
Very efficient, speedy postage and the item completely matches the description
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on 9 October 2014
Going to used this book for The Open University Module DE100
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on 22 March 2014
I have a profound interest with regards to behaviourism and the theories of Skinner and although I found the book to be less detailed and case loaded, I found the supplied information was fascinating and plentiful.
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on 9 April 2016
love this book, excellent delivery
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