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About Behaviorism

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  812 ratings  ·  35 reviews
The basic book about the controversial philosophy known as behaviorism, written by its leading exponent.

"A much more effective work than Beyond Freedom and Dignity precisely because it takes more seriously the tradition (or the historical prejudices) of its opposition."
— Robert Kirsch, Los Angeles Times

"About Behaviorism is an opportunity to match wits with one of the grea
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 12th 1976 by Vintage (first published 1974)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  812 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
As a doctoral candidate in behavior analysis, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Skinner provides several gems throughout the text that I think I would have missed in my earlier days of studying radical behaviorism. In other words, Skinner often says a lot in a few words. My favorite aspect of this book is Skinner's list of myths and misconceptions about behaviorism which he addresses throughout his writing. Unfortunately, many of these myths and misconceptions are alive and well today. That being ...more
Nov 09, 2007 rated it liked it
If I were to rate this book on how much I learned I would give it 5 stars. Unfortunately, reading dry behaviorist lingo led me to 3 star enjoyment. I will probably read Skinner again because the behaviorism theory is applicable to manipulating change in many aspects of life. Much more useful than reading Freud.
Feb 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-school
Skinner has interesting takes on things like emotion, but ultimately, he's very repetitive and likes to attribute everything to "contingencies." It's borderline amusing how often he uses that word--just don't make a drinking game out of it.
Aleisha  Zolman
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
found this book at DI for $1. knowing that i am fundamentally a behaviorist at heart, i picked this book up wondering if the source material matched my intuition and actual practice of behavior management that i use in school and on a lesser scale for myself. i found many examples of brilliance and parallel beliefs. for example, i love his rant on intuition vs. reason, explaining that you can certainly act on intuition without knowing the reasons why you are doing/rules that you are following. ( ...more
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
i read this book as part of a class on radical behaviorism. the class was excellently taught, and i can say it was one of two classes i have taken in my entire college time that changed the way i see the world.

the book is accessible, but also very dense - i am sure that if i had read it by myself, i would have missed out on much of the meaning and many implications.

i feel fortunate that i got to learn so much from reading this exceptional book.
Aug 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
This guy knows how to ramble on and on...
Jonathan-David Jackson
I picked this up thinking it would be about interesting behavioral experiments (like Pavlov's dogs and other salivating animals), but it was instead the driest book I've ever read. I accept that Mr. Skinner knows what he's talking about, but I hardly had any idea of it, and a quarter of the way through the book and after many Zen koans such as (paraphrased) "A man goes to a party not because he feels like going, rather, he feels like going because he goes," I admitted defeat.
Clare Tissiman connolly
Lots of interesting information but a bit wordy I could have got a higher star rating if it was easier to read but unfortunately it suffered for it.
Bogdan Balostin
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: public-library
Who would probably read this book? Someone who is interested in behaviorism as a science (or philosophy), especially radical behaviorism. So if you are looking into accessible book about habits, this is not the book for you.

Nevertheless, the implications derived from this book are huge. It tries to explain most of the philosophy of mind, emotions, freedom, morality, and of course behavior in terms of reinforcements and contingencies of the environment.

I can see how at the time of publication, t
Kelly H
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I love thinking and learning about behavior and behaviorism, but even for me this book was very dense and slow to read. I am a school psychologist and this took me a long time to read carefully. I found the last few chapters the most helpful. I would not recommend this to a lay person trying to understand the science of behavior. I wouldn't recommend reading the whole thing through for school psychs either, but I would use chapters or excerpts for a course. I did come away with a better understa ...more
Lilith Horner
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a fan of B.F skinners behaviourism, (This does not mean I believe it's true, more about my interest in this school of thought) I was happy to read this book. He was one of many influential psychologists that have changed today's way of psychology. His theory consisted of how we are able to train any type of animal through operant conditioning. At one point he was able to make a pigeon superstitious or teaching it to fly a warplane, which was unfortunately shut down due to it leading to unethi ...more
Monica Willyard Moen
I understand that this book is historically significant in the subject of psychology and behavioral therapy. I understood the points he made. However, I found the writing to be very dry, and the book it’s self felt mind numbingly boring.
Cami Golub Bookmilla
at times it was pretty interesting, but sometimes it was so boring...
Justin Han
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
A dry book with some very interesting points. Skinner himself is a brilliant man with very wry humor. His contempt for some ideologies in other fields of sciences leaks through his words.
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read for those who study behaviorism.

Also a must read for those who critique behaviorism.
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"The person with whom we are most familiar is ourself; many of the things we observe just before we behave occur within our body, and it is easy to take them as the causes of our behavior.


What we have learned from the experimental analysis of behavior suggests that the environment performs the functions previously assigned to feelings and and introspectively observed inner states of the organism.


The person who asserts his freedom by saying, 'I determine what I shall do next," is speaki
Sehar  Moughal
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Second time:

Any one who has qualms about the philosophy of the science of behaviourism should read this book. Anyone who thinks behaviour analysis is a cold way to understand humans should read this book. Anyone who thinks the science of behaviourism is not relevant to the world today should read this book. If you think human behaviour cannot be demystified READ THIS BOOK.
Skinner differentiates between methodological and radical behaviourism - and the role former played in damaging/hindering th
Mar 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book was not really what I expected, and neither do i feel that I have a better understanding of behaviorism after reading it. I feel like this book was a response to criticisms of behaviorism, and spent a lot of time comparing behaviorism to other theories...but that I couldn't give a more detailed explanation of behaviorism (no more than what I had in my mind before I read this book.

Tiffany Wilbourn
Oct 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Sooo much better than Verbal Behavior and much more readable! A great read to learn more about behavior analysis. Whether you have a behavioristic view or not, Skinner had a brilliant mind and was very articulate.
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book definitely served an interesting perspective on things from the first chapter about the causes of behavior to the last. It was insightful and quite enjoyable. If you are looking for more insight on Behavior, this would be among the first books I would recommend to you.
Safety Pat
Aug 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
Early ABA propoganda by the man who put his baby daughter in his Skinner Box invention.
Michael Mcclanahan
May 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Must read if ones wants to understand how the education system shapes its thinking.
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Love Skinner, love behaviorism, love his writing style. Not as fun as Walden II, but this is a necessary book if you are interested in "inside the box" thinking. haha.
Earth to Erving
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thinktank
This book was amazing. It was medium grade as far as complexity and some of the concepts are repeated throughout thoroughly so that by the end of the book, you get them.
Jay Brand
In my view, the most succinct, accessible yet comprehensive introduction to B. F. Skinner's psychology of behavior.
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A great primer for those new to the field.
Apr 15, 2014 marked it as to-read
I like this book very much.
Nikos Bar
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great introduction to behaviorism.
Apr 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A important book for any person who wishes to know the science of behavior
Jun 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a great book for any Skinner fans, or anyone interested in the study of Human Behavior.
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Burrhus Frederic Skinner was a highly influential American psychologist, author, inventor, advocate for social reform and poet. He was the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University from 1958 until his retirement in 1974. He invented the operant conditioning chamber, innovated his own philosophy of science called Radical Behaviorism, and founded his own school of experimental resea ...more

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