ADVANTAGES

Skinner's view of behavior is most often characterized as a "molecular" view of behavior, that is each behavior can be decomposed in atomistic parts or molecules. This view is inaccurate when one considers his complete description of behavior as delineated in the 1981 article, "Selection by Consequences" and many other works. Skinner claims that a complete account of behavior involves an understanding of selection history at three levels: biology (the natural selection or phylogeny of the animal); behavior (the reinforcement history or ontogeny of the behavioral repertoire of the animal); and for some species, culture (the cultural practices of the social group to which the animal belongs). This whole organism, with all those histories, then interacts with its environment. He often described even his own behavior as a product of his phylogenetic history, his reinforcement history (which includes the learning of cultural practices)interacting with the environment at the moment. Molar behaviorists (e.g. Howard Rachlin) argue that behavior can not be understood by focusing on events in the moment. That is, they argue that a behavior can be understood best in terms of the ultimate cause of history and that molecular behaviorist are committing a fallacy by inventing a ficticious proximal cause for behavior. Molar behaviorists argue that standard molecular constructs such as "associative strength" are such fictitious proximal causes that simply take the place of molar variables such as rate of reinforcement. Thus, a molar behaviorist would define a behavior such as loving someone as a exhibiting a pattern of loving behavior over time, there is no known proximal cause of loving behavior (i.e. love) only a history of behaviors (of which the current behavior might be an example of) that can be summarized as love.

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