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Skinnerian Themes in Psychology

Murray Goddard (University of New Brunswick)

B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper




Murray Goddard is an Honorary Research Professor at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. He received his PhD in 1987 from McMaster University under the supervision of Herb Jenkins, a leading researcher in Pavlovian conditioning and a pioneer in the development of the autoshaping preparation. As a graduate student, Herb Jenkins had also occasionally served as B. F. Skinner’s teaching assistant at Harvard. From 1993-1994, Murray was a Research Scientist at Duke University and was the recipient of a University Merit Award in 1999 and a University Teaching Award in 2002 and 2012. His previous research explored fundamental associative processes in Pavlovian conditioning and was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. His current research explores similarities between the writings of B. F. Skinner and current research in psychology, the critical psychiatry and critical psychology movements, and the writings of Noam Chomsky.



Selected writings of B. F. Skinner will be shown to have several, sometimes quite striking, similarities with current psychological research. This includes research supporting Skinner’s position that the environment can alter human behavior outside conscious awareness and research by Daniel Wegner and Emily Pronin supporting Skinner’s warnings that introspection is a common, but flawed, habit in folk psychology. In addition, Skinner’s writings will be shown to be compatible with the critical psychiatry movement and (perhaps surprisingly) some shared worldviews between B. F. Skinner and Noam Chomsky will be outlined.


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