Saturday, August 8, 2015

Book Report: Beyond Freedom & Dignity

B. F. Skinner’s book Beyond Freedom & Dignity was a very interesting read. His book discusses current human behavior and how it is shaped. The argument Skinner makes is that our behavior is shaped by our physical and social environments. He believed that physics and biology were not enough to analyze behavior. His conclusion is that through developing a ‘technology of behavior’ we can improve our behavior.
Our environment shapes and maintains out behavior according to Skinner. He discusses freedom is a sense of escape from our aversive environment. Dignity is concerned with positive reinforcement. In our class lectures on Rewards we learned about rewards equally reinforces. Skinner believed that since freedom and dignity intertwined it preserved what is known as punishment and that a person is never truly free because punishment is a threat to the environment. The youtube clip also found in our lecture is of Skinner discussing the topic of operant conditioning and free will further in the following link. (

So how do we apply Skinner’s findings to shape our environment? He makes a point that if we look at our own culture it plays a huge role in who we are and how we behave. I find this to be quite accurate. By understanding who we are it allows us to understand our role in the society we have built. Most of all it shows how the environment has shaped us. However, it may be difficult to change the environment if our culture suggests and idea other than its own. To really change our environment requires a great investment not just from a single individual but many people. I enjoyed reading this book to my surprise as it allowed me to understand how we behave based on our given surroundings. It showed me how adaptability can be a positive and negative in our behavior. We can adapt to the good influences in our environment or we can adapt to negative influences in our environment and never improve as a society. 

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