CentralReach “ABA On Call” Season 4 Ep. 3 - Skinner Article Review: What’s wrong with life in the Western world?


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Skinner's prolific writing focused on important theoretical and philosophical content later in his career. In his article "What's wrong with life in the Western world?" Skinner describes five practices that have corrupted contingencies of reinforcement that came about through evolution. The pleasing effects are seen in practices such as "(a) alienating workers from the consequences of their work, (b) helping those who are capable of helping themselves, (c) guiding behavior with rules rather than supplying reinforcing consequences, (d) maintaining aversive sanctions of governments and religions with long-deferred benefits for the individual, and (e) reinforcing pleasures that are not contingent on the survival of the culture or species." With modern-day technology, many of these practices are even further accelerating. Principles of behavior can change many of the deleterious effects occurring to people through western practices.

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