Behavior Principles in Everyday Life

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9780130727510: Behavior Principles in Everyday Life

Explains each behaviour principle using examples from real life. This third edition text concludes each chapter with a concise summary and features a new emphasis on behaviour modification.

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From the Publisher:

A comprehensive overview of the major behavior principles --operant conditioning, Pavlovian conditioning, social learning theory, and cognitive behaviorism--and their application to everyday life.

From the Inside Flap:

Preface

It is exciting to enter the 21st century as behavioral science broadens its scope to deal ever more effectively with natural environments. We hope Behavior Principles in Everyday Life can, in its small way, help students and professionals learn how to apply behavioral analyses to everyday situations. This book is about people of all ages in many different kinds of settings, revealing many of the behavioral principles that produce both functional and dysfunctional patterns of behavior. Our hope is that readers will use the information to live happier, more fulfilling lives—free from pain and fear—while sharing this knowledge and behavior with others.

During the thirty years we have taught behavior principles, we have become firmly convinced that the majority of students learn the principles most rapidly and effectively when they study them with examples from everyday life. Students are more familiar with the behavior seen in natural settings than any other forms of behavior; so it takes them little effort to follow the examples, and they can focus on learning the principles of behavior and methods of behavioral analysis.

Students report having numerous "Eureka" experiences—which they describe as pleasant, positive reinforcers—as they read material that helps them understand everyday events they had never appreciated before. "So that's why I do that!" This allows readers to receive immediate positive reinforcement as they learn behavior principles and the skills for doing behavior analyses. Many of Skinner's analyses of everyday events gave us those "Eureka" experiences, and we hope to continue that tradition.

By reducing the effort of studying behavior principles—with familiar examples and frequent positive reinforcers—we can help our students learn more behavioral material in one course than if the topic were taught without these examples. This new edition contains more examples and a more carefully worded presentation of behavior principles than did prior editions. Our goal is to help students learn the behavior principles well and generalize their behavior analytic skills to numerous situations and events.

Many students are eager to understand their own behavior, and most do not accept the old psychological models that are still presented in so many of their courses. The Freudian model is so strongly focused on psychoses, neuroses, and other mental illnesses that it misses much of the fun, beauty, and positive qualities of everyday life. Sociobiology reduces so much of life to sexual imperatives that it misses much of the rest of life. And purely cognitive psychology neglects consequences, contingencies, stimulus control, schedules of reinforcement, methods for modifying behavior, and much more.

Behavioral psychology can offer students more modern and empirically defensible theories to explain the details of everyday life than can the other psychological theories. It is time to enthusiastically advance the study of behavior into natural environments and analyze the cognitions, emotions, and behaviors that people experience in their daily lives from a behavioral perspective. The fact that behavioral science has demanded—and been rewarded for using—experimental control in laboratories and clinics should not deter us from expanding our science into less controlled environments. We firmly believe that behavior principles are far more effective than the other psychological theories in explaining behavior in natural settings.

It is important to remember that Skinner was not reluctant to generalize his science far beyond his database, and his work was an enormous catalyst for the advance of our science. In Walden Two, Science and Human Behavior, About Behaviorism, and other writings, Skinner (1948a, 1953, 1974) clearly showed how deeply interested he was in applying behavioral analyses and interventions to many facets of personal and social life. Skinner's writings contain insightful examples from everyday life, and they interested people from many disciplines in applying behavior principles to a broad range of topics. Modern behaviorists have vastly more empirical data than Skinner did—from laboratory, clinical and natural settings—to support analyses of everyday life; thus, we should be less reluctant than he to grapple with the fascinating details of everyday life.

Why not follow Skinner's example and allow students to discover the power of behavior principles in explaining the behavior closest to them? We believe that behavior principles help them more than the Freudian, sociobiological, or purely cognitive models do, and today's students are increasingly eager to hear behavior principles as a fresh, healthy alternative to the other theories.

Many people believe: "You only live once." In that one life, some people have years of pleasure, while others have years of pain. We can share the knowledge of behavior principles so that people gain the power and wisdom to direct their behavior toward something of beauty. In an important sense, life is an art form, and we all can create something beautiful or grotesque with our lives. Behaviorists are in a good position to help people understand: "Life is like a canvas and you are the artists. You can create a beautiful canvas or slash it to shreds. Why not learn the behavior principles that are useful in creating beautiful behaviors and relationships."

As laboratory, clinical, and field research continue to advance, behavioral science is delivering ever more powerful tools to help people be kinder, happier, and more creative. In essence, we are empowering people to analyze their lives and adjust their own behavior to attain more beautiful outcomes. In the process of improving the human condition, we are giving people greater freedom for self-creation than could any prescientific knowledge. Behavioral principles can free people from aversives and the problems of coercive control. It can free people who were once enslaved by dysfunctional habits that they did not know how to escape. Our science is strongly equated with the word "freedom": Freedom from pain and dysfunctional behavior. Freedom to create behavior that produces a beautiful "canvas of life."

Let us make our point with a less happy example. AIDS is a deadly disease that kills millions of people each year worldwide. Billions of dollars have been poured into medical research to combat the disease over the past 20 years, yet still today, the least expensive and most widely recognized solution to the AIDS problem is behavioral: Teach people to avoid risky sexual interactions, and teach a variety of risk-reducing behaviors for those who are sexually active.

We can advance our discipline by making the behavior principles as accessible as possible with analyses of the behavior of everyday situations. The fourth edition of Behavior Principles in Everyday Life continues in the path of prior editions, presenting a large number of principles about operant and Pavlovian conditioning, along with social-learning theory and cognitive behaviorism, as they apply in natural settings. Each chapter closes with both a chapter summary and a series of review questions to help students rapidly review and test themselves on their comprehension of key points. The instructor's manual for this book offers many tips for making classroom activities clearly organized and maximally rewarding for this learning.

All the behavioral principles are presented in italics and key words in bold print in order to aid readers in identifying the most central material. All sections of the book contain abstract principles and concrete examples, and both of these are worded to help readers understand and remember the other. Abstract principles foster the development of explicit and easily verbalized forms of knowledge; while familiar concrete examples draw in the tacit type of knowledge that completes our understanding (see Chapter 12). Most examples used in the book are short and succinct to illustrate the behavior principles quickly and lucidly. The use of short examples allows us to cover a large range of topics, which helps students learn more of the behavior principles and apply them to a broader range of natural settings.

Much of the inspiration for writing and improving the book has come from teaching bright and inquisitive students whose intellectual curiosity has stimulated our own thought and study. We thank all those students for their questions, suggestions, and enthusiasm. For their assistance in developing the earlier editions, we sincerely thank Professors Jay Alperson, Palomar College; Thomas E. Billimek, San Antonio College; David C. Meissner, Alfred University; Kenneth N. Wildman, Ohio Northern University; Richard N. Feil, Mansfield University; Pamela E. Scott-Johnson, Spelman College; A. Robert Sherman, University of California, Santa Barbara; Frank Sparzo, Ball State University; and Perry Timmermans, San Diego City College. We are most grateful to Professors John L. Caruso, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; Richard N. Feil, Mansfield University; Joseph C. LaVoie, University of Nebraska, Omaha; and Margaret Vaughan, Salem State College for their suggestions in creating the recent edition.

J.D.B.
J.I.B.

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