Philosophical behaviorism: a review of things that happen because they should: a teleological approach to action, by Rowland Stout.
Mentalistic terms such as belief and desire have been rejected by behavior analysts because they are traditionally held to refer to unobservable events inside the organism. Behavior analysis has consequently been viewed by philosophers to be at best irrelevant to psychology, understood as a science of the mind. In this book, the philosopher Rowland Stout argues cogently that beliefs and desires (like operants such as rats' lever presses) are best understood in terms of an interaction over time between overt behavior and its overt consequences (a viewpoint called teleological behaviorism). This book is important because it identifies the science of the mind with the science of overt behavior and implies that the psychologists best equipped to study mental life are not those who purport to do so but those who focus on the experimental analysis of behavior. (+info)
Between the waves: Harvard Pigeon Lab 1955-1960.
Six or more graduate students were active in and around the Pigeon Lab in the spring of 1955 and also in 1960, but when I arrived it the fall of 1955 there were none. Looking back in 2001 at that period I can appreciate the unique opportunity for research that I had, as well as the exceptional and productive groups of graduate students who had recently finished their study and research and those who would carry on the tradition of excellence. (+info)
The watershed years of 1958-1962 in the Harvard Pigeon Lab.
During the years 1958-1962, the final years of support by the National Science Foundation for B. F. Skinner's Pigeon Lab in Memorial Hall at Harvard University, 20 or so pigeon experiments (plus some with other organisms) ran concurrently 7 days a week. The research style emphasized experimental analyses, exploratory procedures, and the parametric exploration of variables. This reminiscence describes some features of the laboratory, the context within which it operated, and the activities of some of those who participated in it. (+info)
The Harvard Pigeon Lab under Herrnstein.
The history of the Harvard Pigeon Lab is a history of two periods of remarkable productivity, the first under Skinner's leadership and the second under Herrnstein's. In each period, graduate students flocked to the leader and then began stimulating one another. Chance favored Herrnstein's leadership, too, because an unusually large number of graduate students were admitted in the fall of 1962. In each period, productivity declined as the leader lost interest in the laboratory and withdrew. Directly and indirectly, the laboratory finally died as a result of the cognitive "revolution." Skinner and his students saw the possibility of a natural science of behavior and set about establishing that science based on concepts such as response rate, stimulus control, and schedules of reinforcement. Herrnstein and his students saw that the science could be quantitative and set about making it so, with relative response rate, the matching law, and the psychophysics of choice (analogous to S. S. Stevens' psychophysics). The history might provide a golden research opportunity for someone interested in the impact of such self-organizing research groups on the progress of science. (+info)
The living legacy of the Harvard Pigeon Lab: quantitative analysis in the wide world.
From the Harvard Pigeon Lab of the 1960s arose a behavior-analytic approach that was quantitative and rigorous, rooted in Herrnstein's matching law. Researchers modified the matching law to describe choice behavior in a variety of different settings and examined its relations with other quantitative models. Beginning in the early 1970s, researchers began using the Harvard Pigeon Lab's quantitative framework to study in the laboratory specific aspects of the world outside the laboratory. Much of this work concerned investigations of self-control-choice of a larger, more delayed reinforcer over a smaller, less delayed reinforcer. Experiments using a quantitative framework derived from the matching law have also been conducted outside the laboratory; however, these have been far less frequent. Current and future researchers will benefit the field by devising new, creative ways to investigate the matching law and related quantitative models outside the laboratory. Such research can help to demonstrate the validity of these models as basic principles of behavior, can enhance public opinion of and rewards for such research, and can stimulate further development of the Harvard Pigeon Lab's quantitative approach by using that approach with new variables. (+info)
An infant-based assessment of early lexicon acquisition.
The majority of research on the acquisition of spoken language has focused on language production, due to difficulties in the assessment of comprehension. A primary limitation to comprehension assessment is maintaining the interest and attention of younger infants. We have developed an assessment procedure that addresses the need for an extensive performance-based measure of comprehension in the 2nd year of life. In the interest of developing an engaging approach that takes into account infants' limited attention capabilities, we designed an assessment based on touchscreen technology. This approach builds upon prior research by combining standardization and complexity with an engaging infant-friendly interface. Data suggest that the touchscreen procedure is effective in eliciting and maintaining infant attention and will yield more extensive and reliable estimates of early comprehension than do other procedures. The software to implement the assessment is available free of charge for academic purposes. (+info)
New replicable anxiety-related measures of wall vs center behavior of mice in the open field.
Anxiety is a widely studied psychiatric disorder and is thought to be a complex and multidimensional phenomenon. Sensitive behavioral discrimination of animal models of anxiety is crucial for the elucidation of the behavioral components of anxiety and the physiological processes that mediate them. Commonly used behavior paradigms of anxiety usually include only a few automatically collected measures; these do not exhaust the behavioral richness exhibited by animals, thus perhaps missing important differences between preparations. The aim of the present study was to expand the repertoire of automatically collected measures in a classical test of anxiety: behavior in relation to the wall in the open field. We present an algorithm, based on the Software for the Exploration of Exploration strategy, which automatically partitions the mouse path into intrinsically defined patterns of movement near the wall and in the center. These patterns are used to design new end points, which provide an articulated description of various aspects of behavior near the wall and in the center. Sixteen new end points were designed with data from C57BL/6J and DBA/2J mice tested in three laboratories. The strain differences in all end points were evaluated on another data set to assess their validity and were found to remain stable. Ten of the sixteen end points were found to discriminate between the two strains in a replicable manner. The entire set of end points can be used on various genetic and pharmacological models of anxiety with good prospects of providing fine discrimination in a replicable manner. (+info)
Steps and pips in the history of the cumulative recorder.
From its inception in the 1930s until very recent times, the cumulative recorder was the most widely used measurement instrument in the experimental analysis of behavior. It was an essential instrument in the discovery and analysis of schedules of reinforcement, providing the first real-time analysis of operant response rates and patterns. This review traces the evolution of the cumulative recorder from Skinner's early modified kymographs through various models developed by Skinner and his colleagues to its perfection in the 1950s, and then into the 1960s when it proliferated as different scientific instrument companies began marketing their own models of the cumulative recorder. With the rise of digital computers, the demise of the cumulative recorder as a scientific instrument was inevitable; however, the value of the cumulative record as a monitoring device to assess schedule control of behavior continues. The cumulative recorder remains, along with the operant conditioning chamber, an icon of Skinner's approach to psychology. (+info)