Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Things About Behavior Modification That You Should Know

It isn’t surprising that advocates of “sustainable development” would turn to methods of behavior modification to influence their audience.

However it is most surprising that they would brazenly attempt to integrate these methods with traditional marketing techniques and devices that have heretofore been associated with advertising techniques of the dreaded free market.

Behavior modification has a lengthy history, as a facet of psychological science. Begun around the turn of the last century, its first practitioner was James Watson. He successfully conditioned fear into an unsuspecting child named “Little Albert”. Granted Watson accomplished much more in his career than simply terrorizing a young child. However, the Little Albert experiment simply intended to demonstrate the efficacy of Pavlov’s research in directing and guiding human behavior.

In the succeeding years, Watson was succeeded in behaviorist circles by the renowned American behaviorist, B.F. Skinner. Skinner changed the direction of the paradigm, but also was interested in applying his principles to changing and controlling human behavior. Having created the “Skinner box” to experiment with animals, he utilized the device on his own daughter as a means of further testing its effectiveness.

Later in his career, Skinner authored as book called “Beyond Freedom & Dignity”.

The text suggested a means whereby society could rid itself of all the negative human traits, by controlling the opportunity to access all the “reinforcers” which people would seek.

Loudly rejected by civil libertarians of the time, including Noam Chomsky, it advanced a brave new world in which all the reinforcers were controlled by the benevolent government, which acted in everyone’s best interest.

No comments: