B. F. Skinner Quotes

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.

A person who has been punished is not thereby simply less inclined to behave in a given way; at best, he learns how to avoid punishment.

Behavior is determined by its consequences.

The major difference between rats and people is that rats learn from experience.

The strengthening of behavior which results from reinforcement is appropriately called ‘conditioning’. In operant conditioning we ‘strengthen’ an operant in the sense of making a response more probable or, in actual fact, more frequent.

Give me a child and I’ll shape him into anything.

Behavior is shaped and maintained by its consequences

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.

We are only just beginning to understand the power of love because we are just beginning to understand the weakness of force and aggression.

The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount.

That’s all teaching is; arranging contingencies which bring changes in behavior.

It is not a question of starting. The start has been made. It’s a question of what’s to be done from now on.

We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. Knowing the contents of a few works of literature is a trivial achievement. Being inclined to go on reading is a great achievement.

The consequences of an act affect the probability of its occurring again.

I did not direct my life. I didn’t design it. I never made decisions. Things always came up and made them for me. That’s what life is.

What is love except another name for the use of positive reinforcement? Or vice versa.

Science is a willingness to accept facts even when they are opposed to wishes.

Do not intervene between a person and the consequences of their own behavior.

It is a mistake to suppose that the whole issue is how to free man. The issue is to improve the way in which he is controlled.

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. That view, together with its associated practices, must be re-examined when a scientific analysis reveals unsuspected controlling relations between behavior and environment.

We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.

To say that… behaviors have different ‘meanings’ is only another way of saying that they are controlled by different variables.

If freedom is a requisite for human happiness, then all that’s necessary is to provide the illusion of freedom.

Teachers must learn how to teach … they need only to be taught more effective ways of teaching.

Society attacks early, when the individual is helpless. It enslaves him almost before he has tasted freedom. The ‘ologies’ will tell you how its done Theology calls it building a conscience or developing a spirit of selflessness. Psychology calls it the growth of the superego. Considering how long society has been at it, you’d expect a better job. But the campaigns have been badly planned and the victory has never been secured.