B. F. Skinner

American psychologist, behaviorist and author

Lived from: 1904-1990

Category: Psychology | Writers (Contemporary)

Quotes: B. F. Skinner

Quotes 1 till 15 of 43.

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    The feeling of being interested can act as a kind of neurological signal, directing us to fruitful areas of inquiry.
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    A culture must be reasonably stable, but it must also change, and it will presumably be strongest if it can avoid excessive respect for tradition and fear of novelty on the one hand and excessively rapid change on the other.
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    A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.
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    A permissive government is a government that leaves control to other sources.
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    A person who has been punished is not less inclined to behave in a given way; at best, he learns how to avoid punishment.
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    A person's genetic endowment, a product of the evolution of the species, is said to explain part of the workings of his mind and his personal history the rest.
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    Behavior used to be reinforced by great deprivation; if people weren't hungry, they wouldn't work. Now we are committed to feeding people whether they work or not. Nor is money as great a reinforcer as it once was. People no longer work for punitive reasons, yet our culture offers no new satisfactions.
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    Does a poet create, originate, initiate the thing called a poem, or is his behavior merely the product of his genetic and environmental histories?
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    Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.
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    Except when physically restrained, a person is least free or dignified when he is under threat of punishment, and unfortunately most people often are.
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    Give me a child and I'll shape him into anything.
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    If you insist that individual rights are the summum bonum, then the whole structure of society falls down.
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    If you're old, don't try to change yourself, change your environment.
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    In the traditional view, a person is free. He is autonomous in the sense that his behavior is uncaused. He can therefore be held responsible for what he does and justly punished if he offends.
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    It has always been the task of formal education to set up behavior which would prove useful or enjoyable later in a student's life.
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