An Interview with Giulio Bolacchi (part 4 of 4)

– DO: I would like to ask you also a question,since you have a quite broad perspective,to ask you if…if you think that a democratic institutional
context can, more then others, facilitate
the spread of a scientific culture.
– GB: Well… The matter is quite complex. The democratic system depends in effect on
the generalized culture (in the anthropological
sense) or rather on the set of social behaviors
steadied in a given society. That said, since democracy is often understood
and carried out in a variety of different ways, what
are the most general reinforcement schedules that characterize the
Western democratic system? In democracy every individual has, in political terms, the same
“value” of any other individual, bar none.
We assign a political “value” to individuals, whatever the real differences – which do exist – among them, in terms of specific sequences of behaviors
they carry out. Within the context of historical and political
common sense, the variety of “opinions” takes the
form of “need” for “freedom” and is recognized
as a legal status by the democratic system. Unfortunately, the balance between the “need”
for “freedom” and the “need” for stability in our
democratic systems is very difficult to achieve. Political behaviors, like all behaviors, are more
reinforced – lacking appropriate schedules – by
immediate rather than mediate rewards (due to the
increased commitment required to reach the final
element of an instrumental behavioral sequence). This also occurs when the relation between
two benefits is such that a personal benefit
can be acquired only if another corresponding
collective benefit is given up, or conversely if a waiver of
a personal benefit is a means to acquire
a corresponding collective benefit. So, if it’s based on these generalised
propensities, democracy is altered or weakened,
and tends to turn historically into a competition for the acquisition and retention
of political power, which is often
used for the exchange of social roles. In this regard democracy does not make room
for the science of behavior, because everybody can act according to individualized
and disjoint perspectives about collective
benefits which would require, on the contrary,
comparable perspectives, according to an
order arising from the science of behavior. In short the dysfunctions of democracy do not
depend on the fact that the majority of people expresses political “opinions” and “values”
(which in principle can’t be questioned, being the
very essence of democracy), but on the fact that
democratic “opinions” and “values” are based,
almost only or very often, on “immediate” benefits, which for those who are actively involved in
politics become immediate benefits from power. The mediate perspective has no place (see
Ainslie’s Picoeconomics, referring to the “change
of choice between some alternative rewards as
a function of time”) and not even the collective
perspective is focused on the entire community. Moreover society ascribes to people the “ability”
to widely proclaim their disagreement with
collective needs carried on by the majority. So
democracy is typical of a balance between the
variety and change of political “opinions” and the
“need” for stability of every social organization. This is democracy as it turns up historically,
with the differences related to the specific
cultures. History shows us the processes,
by trial and error, that humans have made
adapting themselves to a political system which is radically different from dictatorship,
although built according to the common sense. The problem is that, by considering the
common sense as a reference point, democracy has been theorized (in a
perspective of conflict between opposite
groups) based on its dysfunctions and
it’s likewise practised (and “learned”). “Rational” schedules of reinforcement,
that should express the real variables
of democratic behavior, remain hidden. As things stand, the democracy’s dysfunctions
put limits on the allocation of collective
resources for scientific research; most of the people do not believe that research
– especially in the field of human behavior –
should be supported, as many ideologies
would feel challenged. So, it is clear that, given the available resources
of the community, the current democracy allocates few common resources to the
scientific research, compared with the resources allocated to other situations, “panem et circenses”,
that could also be postponed. Also in this case,
obviously, the cultures affect the political
behaviors, which may differ with each other. So we can have a situation where the
scientific research is directly related to the
“preferences” of the market; which means there may be a specific correspondence
between the market and the trends of research.
In this case the market can prop up directly the
results of scientific and technological research. But the reinforcement schedules defining the
social and economic interactions are not only
those characterised by the market (exchange),
because people not only can exchange,
but they can cooperate, too. However only a small number of people
understand that they also benefit from
cooperation, and similarly understand they
benefit from pure and applied research which
unfolds mainly outside the market. Anyway in a democracy (“one head, one vote”)
we have to respect the decisions of the majority, if we cannot change them through persuasion. But does it work better a democracy based on
conflict than a democracy based on cooperation?
And why? Democracy is a system, as Churchill put it: “the worst form of
government, except for all the others.” But humanity has not yet designed a better one. So… it’s a system that works perfectly…
that would run at its best, if all people had levels of knowledge
based on the same assumptions, namely
if they had sequences of behaviors
having a common reference base. In short – let’s say – if people had the same
“cultural” level, that is if they shared
the same kind of “culture” about the scientific models of social organization.
Specifically a model of democracy where everyone’s
political behavior should aim to keep private needs
totally disjointed from collective needs, and the set of
“opinions” and “values” should be comparable with the
set of scientific regularities, especially of behavior. The real common-sense models of social
organization should be analysed according to a
scientific theory of behavior, to avoid an explanation
of democracy founded on its dysfunctions. Studying democracy apart from the scientific
theory of behavior is not a good starting point
to build an explication of democracy. It’s not methodologically correct, since
it doesn’t allow us to identify the hidden
variables, the “frictions”, also present
in the context of social behaviors. Anyway, supposing everyone studied
equally and in a scientific way, especially
the social problems, democracy in principle
should have no dysfunctions, also opting
for an assessment in terms of quantity; let’s say a “choice” based
on the number of voters having all, broadly
speaking, the same scientific perspectives
(democracy of “equals”). But presently democracy directs
its “choices” exclusively in accordance
with the number of voters regardless of their scientific viewpoints
and their educational level
(democracy of “unequal” people). But to have the same scientific perspectives
towards science (especially the science of
behavior), so that science can be comparable
with the “opinions” and “values”, it’s necessary
but not sufficient to eliminate any dysfunction. The practice of the total disjunction between
private and collective benefits should be
generalized in the social system. In the absence
of all these contingencies, figuratively we are
at a table of 100 people and science has one
place at the table. That’s it: one in 99. Science is sure to have a voice,
and that’s a lot. Science is allowed to speak and
anyone is allowed to speak. But then, when finally the tally is in and the 50
per cent plus 1 comes out, science can be in that
50 per cent plus 1 or out of the 50 per cent plus 1. Because the social weight of science, in terms
of votes, is still very little; unless science is directly connected to the attainment
of immediate people’s benefits. The natural (applied) science works in this
manner: medical science and physics, among
others, and in general the technology.
The science of behavior doesn’t. We are still lagging behind. This is the tragedy
of the science of behavior. But the widespread
social prejudices can hamper even the natural
science, besides the science of behavior. If the behavior science were an ordered
(and basically axiomatic) system, able
to give an effective contribution to the problems of our society, in terms
not of “opinions” and “values” but at least
of means to achieve the objectives defined by the democratic system, trying to make
them comparable with the scientific regularities,
then it would be recognized in an intersubjective
way. I don’t know if this goal can be reached. But since behavior science can’t solve
everything, that is the problems
regarding “opinions” and “values”, we would have just a basis of topics
on which we should rely. In the present state
of knowledge, it’s sufficient that “opinions”
and “values” are comparable with science. That is the basis of structural “rationality” which
now we lack. But the regularities of the science
of behavior must be kept separate from personal
and social objectives to be achieved, which
are essentially “opinions” and “values”. So the matter is complex. Certainly, in a society
like ours, democracy is the most advanced
instrument to identify and define social objectives. But assuming hypothetically that the world was
put into the hands of behaviorists and cognitive
psychologists, they too would make many mistakes. As things stand now, they
would make many mistakes. Anyway, although the science of behavior
is not mature, a good portion of it is known. We already know: that all (operant) behaviors
are “learned”; that punishment doesn’t work
removing clearly a given behavior by the set of
behaviors “learned” by an organism; that behaviors
belonging to our past history are necessarily
repeated in the presence of certain stimuli; that organisms are more reinforced by small
early (immediate) rewards, than by larger later
(mediate) rewards, unless they have “learned” the
contrary. It would be actually a huge advance
to “know” that every behavior is “learned” (also economics, ethics, social norms, rules of law
and so on), i.e. that every behavior is conditioned
by the relation between the organism (as a whole)
and the (natural and social) environmental stimuli
that are similar to the reinforcement schedules
in the experimental context. These findings, in addition, allow us to better
interpret the meanings of “globalization” and
“multiculturalism” that today are quite confused.– DO: The problem is that it could happen that
there’s no impetus towards a cultural evolution
closer to the scientific viewpoint, because
anyway Western societies
are rich in useless positive reinforcers
– often – and which, in any case,
make people “happy”, with no…
– GB: It has always been
like that in every society, from the most ancient to today’s.
As I said before: “panem et circenses”. But it’s not only a problem in Western societies. The fact is that just now science is starting
to discover the regularities (laws) of behavior. But we are at the beginning. We still don’t realize
it. Even Kahneman’s and Tversky’s search for
natural laws of economics is questionable. Do
their experiments pertain to regularities of behavior or to behaviors arising from specific “cultures”
in the anthropological sense? The “concept” that
everything must be “learned” and, conversely,
must be “taught” is not yet generalised. We cannot expect to find economics
within the living organisms, as if they
possessed it by nature. They don’t possess it. This is the key point. In fact, the postulates of economics and
of game theory are not scientific regularities
(laws) of behavior. And even the social relations
of cooperation and conflict must be “learned”. Why does the modern world make people happy
to satisfy exclusively their basic needs? Because they “learn” only that. Well, why don’t we “teach” something else? Moreover, this would not affect the economic
system, because rather than producing – for example – scooters or useless things or unnecessary
clothing, the economic system could produce something different, such as scientific
devices, or in any case something which could be used with much more complex
sequences of behavior – books and such like –
to advance humanity scientifically. In summary, the behaviors of individuals and
groups are conditioned by a multiplicity of stimuli
(schedules, but the same term can also be used in
talking about the natural and social environment) arising from the complex processes of
socialization. Only some of these schedules
can be ascribed to the market; the others depend
on the multiple social institutions and relations. The market in most cases adapts itself
to the generalized model of socialization,
the current “culture”, because if humanity were socialized to read
books, if people “learned” to read book in
their early socialization processes, then
flood of books would be produced. If… people “learned” to use scientific instruments, lots of scientific instruments would be sold
on the market, as each little boy or girl would
ask for a microscope rather than a scooter or other stuff. In effect the set of objectives to be pursued from
mankind – in the present state of knowledge – depends on random processes (concerning
“opinions”, “values” and technological results)
that, at present, cannot be classified within
functional relations between phenomena, which
constitute as many structural regularities. Society is a set of conditioning stimuli towards
the behavior of individuals and groups. But
people don’t “know” that they are conditioned, and on the contrary have a “culture”
according to which it’s believed that humans
have every knowledge inside themselves,
an so they must “bring out” what’s in each
child’s or adult’s “head”. It’s incorrect. “The children’s version of the war”… It’s incorrect.
The child’s version of the war is how the child
has been reinforced, within the family
or through the mass media, to see the war. But people stay astounded: “See how they
see it. Also a child feels the need of peace…”
This is incorrect. So, what about if this is not yet clear?
This is what behaviorism should make clear. But as long as behaviorists keep
wasting time without constructing a theory,
only with great difficulty they can make
the science of behavior a common heritage. Therefore, it’s not (only) the fault of the market. It is the fault of education,
of educational processes. What do educational processes
depend on? They depend on society. What does society depend on? In our Western
world, it depends on democracy, i.e. on how
society is organised. Based on what is society
organized? On common sense. It’s a vicious circle.
So, let’s start by changing this vicious circle. Let’s start by asking citizens to never use
punishments in educational processes. Let’s make sure they study
the science of behavior seriously. Let’s “teach” them to distinguish clearly
between private and collective benefits.
All right… But what about if every
politician acts so demagogically, because each of them needs votes? There is
a lot of distortion in the democracy interpreted
and practiced according to common sense;
there are “frictions” (hidden variables). However many scholars theorize democracy
as if its historical expressions were natural
regularities based on conflict interpreted as a
natural human condition. We must start
studying democracy in the abstract, by analysing the variables that condition
conflict and cooperation (which are regularities
of behavior selected by the environment),
in order to identify those “frictions” that historically alter the political behavior and
specifically the democratic system. Democracy
does not work well, if school does not work well. And school works well when it brings everybody
to the same level, i.e. when it gives everybody
the same sequences of operant behaviors
concerning the structural regularities of behavior. So, from there we have to decide
whether democracy works.
What sequences are “taught” nowadays? None of the sequences arising directly from
the science of behavior. Alternatively, the
common-sense sequences are accepted. Now, democracy does not work appropriately
with these sequences of behavior. Here lies the great importance of school.
But we should change the school, not
devise the school in line with a mixture of common sense and
“impulsiveness” (as it has been defined
by Ainslie and Herrnstein). It’s always
the same misunderstanding, which prevented the rise of science
until Galileo and freezes the development
of the science of behavior. The school would work appropriately,
if there was an advanced scientific analysis
of the individual behavior and of the relations
between individuals, that we could use. But at present we are not in this situation, since too many people try to analyse
these problems so unscientifically. Not to mention the majority of cognitive
psychologists. They have an influence on
society, on school, on politicians… as they
found their definitions on common sense. Meanwhile the behaviorists are still focused
on traditional experiments and have not yet
understood that we need a more general
theoretical perspective, well… Sometimes they remind me of Aristotelian
physicists speaking of motion: “So, let’s see, this
moves this way because I’m pushing it, and rests; the other one moves this way, and those
move that way, and rest.” What I say is
obviously a paradox, but not so much… In reality we are
faced with a huge number of experiments,
all similar to each other. But nothing is achieved without an accepted
and generalized theory, that would allow us to
acquire more in-depth knowledge on the behavior, and to use experiments to locate real variables
hidden from common sense (description versus
explication). But if experiments aren’t made
for finding out “frictions”, what for? Do we just
keep repeating them, inserting always new
details simply to describe how schedules work?– DO: It’s possible that some behavioral
technologies are also selected by the market, as
they work, they are very, very effective.In the United States, for example…well… behaviorists get called everywherefor therapies, but now even for creating…speed learning tools,which can be used by companies to…to refresh the behavioral repertoires of their
employees without having to spend billions and
gather everyone together to follow courses
which are no use at all. Instead, possibly,
they send a CD realized according to the
programmed instruction.
It works fast. So it’s possible that
the market supports also this viewpoint
inasmuch as it works, it’s effective.
– GB: Yes, that’s right. But this is still
about behaviorism conceived in terms of
low-level schedules of reinforcement. The problem is always the same. If research is only focused on the description of
experiments without theoretical explication, if a
unified theory is not accepted, then the “meaning”
of behaviorism is somehow distorted. As a matter
of fact, the current types of professional education
sell on the market. To cut a long story short, the applied behaviorism – let’s call it
“professional” behaviorism – is founded
on low-level schedules. It seems those schedules take effect quickly.
Of course, because people are trained
to use some equipments, or to achieve certain behaviors, without
understanding anything else; one just “learns”
to move this way, that way, to push this and,
if the red light turns on, this other one… In these cases immediate positive reinforces are
used. We “teach” people behavioral sequences
totally detached form a higher context. We “teach” people to use a machine,
to operate it on the basis of their
easy knowledge on how it works. But what do people know about the
complex organizations employing
machineries and workers? Do they “know” whether or not the schedules
contingent to the sequences of “learned”
behaviors (the protocols) are concurrent
with the schedules contingent to the behaviors they perform in the
workplace? And, more generally, do they know
whether or not the behaviors of their past history are comparable with the sequences of behaviors
in the workplace (including those contingent
to the protocols)? The same remarks may
refer to the professionalism in wider terms. So, protocols are used in organizations and
the management of any technological activity.
Protocols are “taught” also to physicians,
to pilots, to anyone else. The “protocol” refers to an ordered sequence
of reinforcement schedules. The presence of
schedules concurrent with the protocol
can be very dangerous; e.g. if a pilot isn’t carefully conditioned by the
protocol (i.e. the schedules of his/her past
history aren’t comparable with the protocol),
the airplane can crash. We have examined some case studies (which I
have traced back to the psychological viewpoint)
in which an inadequate reinforcement by
the protocol, led to serious accidents. That’s because frequently the conditioning
process (i.e. the “teaching” of the protocol)
doesn’t take into account the “frictions”. In one instance it was evident that the
schedules of the past history of pilots were
concurrent with the schedules of the protocols. It was a crash that caused around
500/600 fatalities with two airplanes
involved… quite complicated… In another instance, with about
300 fatalities, the pilots started chatting and did not realize that the airplane
was coming back down. They did not even hear (“perceive”) the signals… The altimeter signal was repeated several times,
and everything happened within two minutes. Thirty seconds before the accident the pilots
were still talking and then to the end started
screaming and the crash occurred. What does this “mean”? The pilots didn’t
comply with the protocol? It is highly likely. But we must go back, in depth, to find out
the hidden variables: how had this protocol
been “taught”? Evidently, the pilots had “learned” behaviors strongly competing with
the behaviors corresponding to the protocol. Consider a person who starts drinking coffee
while reading, then puts down the cup,
reads and starts watching something else,
and then moves and then stands up… In this case, the abstract term “personality”
as a unified (consistent or not) whole of
multiple behaviors can be used to denote
the set of “learned” behaviors. Well, if we “teach” the protocol to
an unreliable “personality”, with “learned”
behaviors strongly competing with the
behaviors conditioned by the protocol, those competing behaviors belonging to the
past history of the person can emerge anew while the protocol is going on. How do we know
those “learned” behaviors won’t emerge anew? As a matter of fact, the pilots were talking about
vacations: a concurrent social stimulus arose, and the protocol fell through. To say that an employee didn’t comply with the
protocol is a trivial explanation. But what about
her/his past history? What would operant
conditioning be helpful to, if organisms didn’t
keep “track” of this conditioning, if behaviors
once reinforced didn’t become steady? How has this protocol been “taught”?
What type of “personality” has been
conditioned by this protocol? It’s not enough just to “teach” a protocol, as if the person had no past history. It is not
enough because the instructors work in a
“factory of behaviors” and so they should know
all variables involved in the conditioning process. We must ensure the set of
protocol’s schedules be comparable with the set of schedules contingent to the
behaviors belonging to the worker’s past history,
corresponding with the set of all other stimuli
contingent to the worker’s behaviors over a lifetime. Protocols should never be concurrent with
other schedules corresponding to the worker’s
behaviors outside the workplace. Obviously it’s easier to “teach” the protocol
“regardless of”. But why? Because behaviorists
say very little about past history. Why do they tell so little about that? Because they too are stuck to protocols.
Reinforcement schedules are simple
protocols that behaviorists implement. How to deal with the problems of autism?
Using simple protocols (schedules of low level).
How to deal with the problems of the organization?
Similarly; and so on in all other cases. Hence also some criticism from cognitive
psychologists, who however have no tools
based on controlled experiments. So, when we “teach” also workers and
technicians the protocol for repairing a machinery
or a car… “Teaching” to repair a car is one thing, quite another thing is “teaching” to repair
a car within the knowledge context of
mechanics, which means regularities (laws)
and “frictions” (hidden variables). A different matter altogether
– third more complex phase – is “teaching” a new protocol in the context of a
person’s life. That is analysing his/her past history,
probabilistically detectable by current behaviors
and, on a logical level, by the consistency of all (past and current) behaviors among themselves
and towards the behaviors corresponding to the
protocol. A worker is reinforced by the protocol
when he/she really “learn” it since there are no “frictions”, i.e. different
(past or current) schedules that reinforced
or reinforce behaviors conflicting with
those reinforced by the protocol.– DO: The problem is that we cannot know
the past history. So, we are dealing with
people without knowing anything.
– GB: It’s not quite so…
– DO: We must try to develop procedures
which work out for everyone, whatever
the past history. That’s the idea.
– GB: We must… That’s the error: expecting
to condition a person with no concern for
his/her past history, i.e. denying the very
foundations that underpin behaviorism. We might know past history better, if socialization
and school processes were unified on the basis
of the regularities (laws) of behavior science.
However, at present, we are also in a position – even if we don’t know the (past) history
thoroughly – to understand if the set of a
person’s current behaviors is consistent. The fact remains that we must know the (past)
history – although using rather simple tools, as
behavior science now has not more appropriate
chances – and take it into account when we use
reinforcement schedules (i.e. in all our relationships). The analysis of a person’s current behaviors
still allow us to obtain a fairly reliable knowledge
of his/her (past) history, although incomplete
and probabilistic. Let’s think, for example, of the
pilots: we should keep them under observation. Or also the workers who build, use, repair
or check a strategic machinery, an airplane,
a complex organisational system. That’s because the behaviors may slip out
at some point. It’s sufficient a stimulus
that comes out then and there to alter the
unstable equilibrium of a given “personality”. On the other hand “learned” behaviors recur in
the presence of the same or similar stimuli. The
holidays, the partner who is gone, the child doing
badly at school… In these critical situations the
strict consequentiality of the protocol could fail. So, we have various opportunities. But we
don’t consider them, because the behaviorists
themselves take into account protocols based on
low-level schedules with immediate reinforcers
to make the service more suitable to the market. It’s the same with the OBM: workers’ productivity
is increased by applying a protocol (although it
often contrasts with their history). However some
protocols, if they are comparable in principle
with the current “culture”, can be used in social
systems for example with a market “culture”.– DO: I would like to ask you a last question,yet another important issue:as a psychologist, do you consider positive
reinforcement to be always preferable to
negative reinforcement and punishment?
– GB: First of all, with reference to this issue,
I have some… reservations. The distinction currently made between positive reinforcement and negative
reinforcement should be reworded. If we apply the binary logic (normally used as the syntax of the
scientific language), the basic dichotomy
should be “either A or not-A”. It follows that the dichotomy concerning the
reinforcement relation is “either positive
reinforcement or not-positive reinforcement”,
i.e. absence of positive reinforcement.
Namely, reinforced or not-reinforced behavior. Punishment and negative reinforcement should
consequently be explained in a completely
different way from the current one. This is a very
complex problem, which I am still trying to… to further analyse in more detail. Escape and avoidance express the lack of
isomorphism between behavior and environment,
which makes it impossible for an organism to achieve
specific sequences of instrumental behaviors.
Therefore the so-called negative reinforcers should be considered constraints the
environment imposes on the organism, given
his inability to achieve instrumental behaviors
corresponding to those environmental limits. The response to the negative stimulus, to the
negative reinforcer, is still a behavior, whether
of escape or avoidance. If it’s a behavior, it must
necessarily be positively reinforced. Necessarily. Otherwise the organism does not escape. Actually, if we block all ways out, the organism
does nothing, stands there… could die, or attack, in an extreme attempt to do something.
The living organism must act. Aversive experimental stimuli should therefore
be interpreted as (technological) boundaries
of the experimental environment, to which
the organism responds with the only behaviors
that the lab allows him/her to accomplish. Moreover, in occurrences that fall outside
the normal ones, the distinction between
positive and negative reinforcers may be relative. Also the behaviors looking to go beyond the
limitations imposed by the environment or
legal laws, with highly aversive content, can be considered as positive reinforced in
non-normal situations. Otherwise the definition
of (natural or social) limit can be changed through
the technology or the evolution of cultures. I discussed also with Herrnstein and others on
negative reinforcement, even if at the time I still
had not deepen this issue. They didn’t seem
to agree with Skinner on punishment. All in all, Skinner and his scholars
fell into the trap of positive
and negative reinforcement. Reinforcement may be positive of several
different types, but it’s always positive. The term “negative” is used to denote a
positive reinforcement related to an occurrence
which is on average considered negative. It’s an event that does not affect the logic
of behavior. Of course the environmental stimuli
can be natural or artificial (technological),
but they can be social too. Specifically the set of legal and ethical laws
and the social customs and practices, in short
the “culture” of a given social group, are all limits and constraints that prevent
or require certain kinds of behavior.
Punishment can be explained only if we
include it in this theoretical framework. To conclude, if we reinforce the organism
“negatively” (using punishment to prevent a given
sequence of behaviors) and we leave a way open, in practice, we give the organism
the cue to achieve the same
positive reinforcer in another way. In this regard, we can make concurrent
to the aversive situation a more
rewarding reinforcement schedule concerning a sequence
of behaviors totally disjoint from those
which are harmful or prohibited. And this should be at the root of
all the educational processes. The administration of any punishment to
prevent the organism from realizing a behavioral
sequence, which is obviously positively oriented, is a cursory method. Skinner said that we should not
use it, and he was right. So we should ensure that the organisms are
reinforced only positively. That’s the point. There’s no doubt that in order to always
use positive reinforcement, namely to
ensure that any aversive reinforcer is eliminated, the easier way should be to keep under control
throughout the developmental age all sequences
of behaviors relating to the “culture” that we
intend to transmit. It’s the most basic thing. In fact, Skinner quite rightly said
that we should “teach” the person
not to realize certain behaviors, instead of punishing the person when
she/he behaves like that, owing to an
inadequacy of “teaching”. But in any case, even if we punish the person,
which is the quickest way, Skinner is right:
we don’t eliminate that behavior. But many do not accept Skinner’s perspective,
on the ground that if the reinforcer is negative,
the behavior decreases in frequency.
What has the decrease got to do with it? We must affect the true dependent variable. The behavior has been stabilised, and
consequently the organism will try everything
to find out other behavioral sequences,
instrumental to the same “goal”. On this issue, a number of theoretical
hypotheses have been proposed. And each one
is more questionable than the other, in my view. Anyway, this is the key issue.– DO: All right.
Thank you very much indeed.

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