B. F. Skinner

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Hi! I have another question that Skinner is considered an influential psychologist in modern Psychology. But, are there critics for his works or experiments? If yes, can you tell about me what his critics about and where can I find the information? Thanks a lot!!!

-- Lainie Yang (bluelainie@hotmail.com), February 19, 2005


In a sense, most of psychology's abandonment of radical behaviorism is all the critique one could need. However, there is a book edited by Wann (in the 1960s) in which Skinner, Rogers, and a few others explicitly debate each other. Perhaps the "humanistic" critique is not what you're looking for. Many believe that Noam Chomsky's review of Skinner's Verbal Behavior was the beginning of the end (at least the end of dominance) for behaviorism. There is a broader (though shorter) critique of behaviorism along the same lines in the introduction to Jerry Fodor's Representations (1981), but it is directed toward the philosophical "logical behaviorism" rather than to Skinner's version. You might also look at Owen Flanagan's Science of Mind for an overview.

-- Christopher Green (christo@yorku.ca), February 19, 2005.

Hi Laine, I think contemporary psychology is richer today due to the influence of Skinner (some might agrue the opposite), but his ideas needed modification, particularly based on developments in cognitive psychology (mental), evolutionary psychology (heredity), humanisitic psychology (importance of choices), and physiological psychology (as a valuable tool). As far as an experimental error or misinterpretation, one might question Skinner's early research "demonstrating" that punishment only temporarily suppresses behavior (as opposed to the typically more long-lasting effects of reinforcement). I think in the 50's Solomon showed that punishment often could have a stronger and more long-lasting impact on behavior than Skinner found in his early research. I hope this helps. Paul

-- Paul Kleinginna (prk@frontiernet.net), February 21, 2005.

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