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4.6 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 June 2016
B. F. Skinner's "About Behaviourism" is a major contribution to the philosophical and theoretical understanding of psychology. Skinner sought, in this book, to present an overview of Behaviourism - outlining its key themes and premises, while highlighting ideas wrongly associated with this school of thought. The book was first published in 1974 - and is, in many ways, a culmination of Skinner's arguments as advanced throughout his career. It brings together - in a highly readable manner - the central tenets made in his previous publications (such as 'Science and Human Behaviour' (1953), 'Verbal Behavior' (1957), and 'Beyond Freedom and Dignity' (1971)). Yet in this particular work, Skinner also aims to clarify the Behaviourist position more generally - commenting on the weaknesses and limitations of earlier theorists, such as John Watson (founder of Behaviourism).

The book is written with a popular readership intended, and as such it's not overly academic in presentation. It can be understood by someone who's new to psychology - and is intended to be insightful and engaging. It is, in all essentials, a book that takes as its purpose the task of explaining the reasons why this theoretical position is correct - and how, if applied, it would revolutionise the organisation of society (creating a more peaceful way of life, based on cooperative social existence). Skinner explores several topics, including: the causes of behaviour, operant conditioning, thinking, motivations and emotions, and issues of control.

This book was highly influential when it was originally published, and shaped debate within psychology for many years. The main argument advanced by Skinner is that the notion of human 'free will' is an illusion, and that behaviour is dependent on the consequences of previous behaviours. If the consequences are negative, the likelihood is that the action will not be repeated; whereas if the consequences are positive, it is more probable that the action will be repeated. As such, human behaviour is conditioned - the outcome of a lifetime of reinforcement. Given the importance of Skinner's work, he is recognised as one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century.

Of course, the book received a great deal of criticism. And the behaviourist school of psychology - although influential - has never dominated the field (rather, schools of thought focussing on the Mind have tended to be hegemonic). Notwithstanding the criticisms this book received, it remains highly fascinating - and is an enjoyable read. If you're interested in psychology, I recommend it.
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on 3 August 2017
Piaget, very good little book as a teacher QTLS, :-)
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on 21 August 2017
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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 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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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 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 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 22 November 2016
A bit difficult to grasp all of the concepts in behaviorism that Skinner presents, but well worth the read. I think it's a book that you could read over and over again and gain something new each time from.
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on 27 February 2016
Very efficient, speedy postage and the item completely matches the description
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