By Laurence D. Smith, William Ray Woodward
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Extra info for B.F. Skinner and behaviorism in American culture
His 1971 best-seller Beyond Freedom and Dignity brought the scientific utopia to popular attention again. So well-known are its maxims of child-rearing and education that we nod in familiarity to the common coin of setting behavioral objectives, breaking learning into sequential steps, shaping through immediate reinforcement, eschewing punishment except to establish limits, learning by consequences, and achieving "stimulus control" by rearranging the place and time of our behavior. Misunderstandings of behaviorism abound, nevertheless, and that is one reason for this book.
Perhaps he saw elements of Watsonian social control in Hitler's Reich. Other critiques of behaviorism as ideology followed. "59 Against the perspective of centuries of dialectical thought (since Plato), behaviorism comes across the Atlantic as incredibly naive. The East German Lothar Bisky subjected neobehavioral mass communications research to extensive criticism, objecting especially to the intervening variable as employed by Carl Hovland on persuasion, R. P. 60 Bisky does not directly implicate Skinner but attacks neobehaviorism broadly conceived to include American empirical social psychology of the 1950s and 1960s.
The important difference consisted in this: the cat's escapes occurred one at a time, whereas the rat's lever press (or, later, the pigeon's peck) repeated itself again and again, producing reinforcement according to an ongoing schedule. A world of difference separates "elicited" and "emitted" behavior, as subsequent psychologists have shown. The one emphasizes antecedent stimuli, the other the consequences of the response. Taken together, they operationally define the way in which learning occurs.
B.F. Skinner and behaviorism in American culture by Laurence D. Smith, William Ray Woodward