I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous…”

 -         Epanchin, Townsend, and Stoddard



 “We can listen to a particular instrument… in part by suppressing our responses to the other instruments and we are said to do so with various mental mechanisms… [The mind is considered] a kind of gatekeeper – a loyal servant who admits wanted stimuli and defends his master against unwanted… We have not explained anything, of course, until we have explained the behavior of the gatekeeper… [Behavior analysis explains attention by] the contingencies underlying the process of discrimination. We pay attention or fail to pay attention to a lecturer or a traffic sign depending upon what has happened in the past under similar circumstances. Discrimination is a behavioral process: the contingencies, not the mind, make discriminations”

 -         Skinner



 People learn well by experiencing contingencies directly, and healthy development involves allowing children to make contact with natural reinforcers and mild (not dangerous) punishers. Letting an infant struggle to get from place to place by crawling or toddling permits the child to obtain a reinforcer – the item the infant is trying to get – and will enhance the child’s mobility and independence. (In fact, blocking an organism’s ability to influence the environment can lead to a condition called “learned helplessness”. Allowing a child to taste a spicy food will be a more powerful learning experience for him than any words of advice you could offer.

 -         Sulzer-Azaroff and Mayer



 The use of retreat, or easing back when the desired behavior occurs, is an important aspect of most of the so-called “horse whisperer” techniques. In most of these methods the trainer works with a loose horse in a confined area and proceeds in a relatively short time to transform a horse in flight to a horse calmly accepting a human. The horse, once perhaps completely wild, becomes so calm, even accepting a saddle and rider, that the total effect is magical.

 Trainers who use these techniques often have superstitious explanations for what is happening; and while many have formed the habit of making some sound or motion that functions as the marker signal or the conditioned reinforcer, few are consciously aware of doing so. Nevertheless, it is not magic at work; it is the laws of operant conditioning.

 -         Pryor



 According to the behavioral model, environmental factors play a major role in determining how we behave. If you interpret this statement as your “being controlled by the environment,” then you will view it as limiting your options. However, just the opposite is true. There are reciprocal or give-and-take relationships among the environment, overt behavior, and covert behavior. Each of these factors influences and is influenced by the two other factors, which is to say that they are reciprocally determined. As an example, consider how the environment, covert behaviors, and overt behaviors might reciprocally influence one another in the case of writing a paper. The concept of reciprocal determinism has important implications for personal freedom. How we behave is not rigidly determined by external forces. We can alter or create the factors that influence our behaviors. For instance, a woman who rarely exercises can join a health club, which will increase the chances that she will exercise regularly. Likewise, a man who thinks poorly of himself because he is unsuccessful in his work can select a job at which he can succeed, which, in turn, will influence his thoughts about himself. A key to personal freedom lies in understanding the factors that influence our behaviors and accepting responsibility for controlling them.

 -      Spiegler and Guevremont


Text Box: Environment
Text Box: Covert Behaviors




Text Box: Overt Behaviors







 The transfiguration of behavior analysis with respect to values, language, and politics does not require us to abandon our scientific principles, our love of empiricism, or our dedication to evolving effective technologies. What is required is that we see beyond our intimidating jargon to discover our link with higher values, and the necessity of communication technological achievement to society in a language that reflects those values. Then, at last, we may be able to influence the politics of social decision making. For over three decades we have been smart. Now is the time for us to become wise.

 -     Carr