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Contrived reinforcement.

Autor: B.F. Skinner

There is nothing new about the modification of behavior. Teachers have always modified the behavior of their students and students the behavior of teachers. Employers have always modified the behavior of employees and employees the behavior of their employers. Therapists modify the behavior of those they help and those who are helped the behavior of their therapists. Governors modify the behavior of the governed and the governed the behavior of the governors. Parents modify the behavior of their children and children the behavior of their parents. As friends, lovers, and acquaintances we modify the behavior of each other. The only thing that is new is a better understanding of how we do so, derived from the experimental analysis of behavior. Those who claim to be changing minds or feelings through persuasion or argument are really changing behavior by changing its consequences. Through behavior modification we are said to intervene in the lives of others and manipulate them, and whether we should do so is said to be an ethical question, but it is a question that can be answered by looking at another kind of consequence.



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