Ever since Skinner (1938), early on after presenting an extensive study of the rat, invoked his Let him extrapolate who will, we have been hesitant to do so. It is, nevertheless, also true that just a few sentences before that fateful one, in the very same book, Skinner had said: The importance of a science of behavior derives largely from the possibility of an eventual extension to human affairs. In that sense, John Stoddard (2001) should not have been so surprised that Skinner engaged in what the former called premature extrapolation. As we well know, Skinner went on to engage in much-attacked extensive, not to say excessive, extrapolation and for that reason I will try for some more modest, but not too limited, extrapolation, examining how one could apply the basic reinforcement contingency paradigm to complex human behavior and thus (eventually) shed light on how to improve it. Beginning immodestly with some of my early work with conditioning of speech deficient children and flat-affect schizophrenic patients, I will try to elucidate human error, communication (all the while not ignoring the overlap of the latter two), and other human vagaries by means of behavior analysis most basic concepts.
|Kurt Salzinger, Ph.D. is Senior Scholar in Residence at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. since January 2003. He was Executive Director for Science at the American Psychological Association 2001 to 2003. He’s been President of the New York Academy of Sciences, has served on the Board of Directors of the APA, and been president of Divisions 1 (General Psychology) and 25 (Behavior Analysis), and of the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology. He also served as the first Chair of the Board of the Cambridge Center 1986 – 1988, subsequently as a member until 1991 and again a member of the Board since 2004. He is author or editor of 12 books and over 120 articles and book chapters. The most recent book was edited by Rieber, R.W., and Salzinger in 1998: Psychology: Theoretical-historical perspectives. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. He has varied research interests, including behavior analysis applied to human beings, dogs, rats, and goldfish, schizophrenia, verbal behavior of children and adults and history of psychology. He has both given grants (when a program officer at the National Science Foundation) and received them (when professor of psychology at Hofstra University and Polytechnic University of New York and Principal Research Scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute) for his own research. He received the Sustained Superior Performance Award from the NSF, the Stratton Award from the American Psychopathological Association, and the Most Meritorious Article Award from the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. In 2002 he was Presidential Scholar for the Association for Behavior Analysis.