B F Skinner Quotes For Success In Life

Burrhus Frederic Skinner was an American psychologist, behaviorist, author, inventor, and social philosopher. He was a professor of psychology at Harvard University from 1958 until his retirement in 1974. These B F Skinner quotes will motivate you in life.

Best B F Skinner Quotes

  1. “A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  2. “A person who has been punished is not thereby simply less inclined to behave in a given way; at best, he learns how to avoid punishment.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  3. “Behavior is determined by its consequences.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  4. “The major difference between rats and people is that rats learn from experience.” ~ B. F. Skinner

  5. “The strengthening of behavior which results from reinforcement is appropriately called ‘conditioning’. In operant conditioning, we ‘strengthen’ an operant in the sense of making a response more probable or, in actual fact, more frequent.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  6. “Give me a child and I’ll shape him into anything.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  7. “Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  8. “Behavior is shaped and maintained by its consequences” ~ B. F. Skinner
  9. “We are only just beginning to understand the power of love because we are just beginning to understand the weakness of force and aggression.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  10. “The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount.” ~ B. F. Skinner

  11. “That’s all teaching is; arranging contingencies which bring changes in behavior.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  12. “We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. Knowing the contents of a few works of literature is a trivial achievement. Being inclined to go on reading is a great achievement.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  13. “It is not a question of starting. The start has been made. It’s a question of what’s to be done from now on.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  14. “The consequences of an act affect the probability of its occurring again.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  15. “What is love except another name for the use of positive reinforcement? Or vice versa.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  16. “I did not direct my life. I didn’t design it. I never made decisions. Things always came up and made them for me. That’s what life is.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  17. “It is a mistake to suppose that the whole issue is how to free man. The issue is to improve the way in which he is controlled.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  18. “Science is a willingness to accept facts even when they are opposed to wishes.” ~ B. F. Skinner

  19. “Do not intervene between a person and the consequences of their own behavior.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  20. “We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  21. “Chaos breeds geniuses. It offers a man something to be a genius about.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  22. “If you’re old, don’t try to change yourself, change your environment.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  23. “Unable to understand how or why the person we see behaves as he does, we attribute his behavior to a person we cannot see, whose behavior we cannot explain either but about whom we are not inclined to ask questions.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  24. “It is a surprising fact that those who object most violently to the manipulation of behavior nevertheless make the most vigorous effort to manipulate minds.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  25. “Society attacks early when the individual is helpless.” ~ B. F. Skinner

  26. “A self is a repertoire of behavior appropriate to a given set of contingencies.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  27. “An important fact about verbal behavior is that speaker and listener may reside within the same skin.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  28. “I’ve often said that my rats have taught me much more than I’ve taught them.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  29. “No one asks how to motivate a baby. A baby naturally explores everything it can get at unless restraining forces have already been at work. And this tendency doesn’t die out, it’s wiped out.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  30. “No theory changes what it is a theory about. Nothing is changed because we look at it, talk about it, or analyze it in a new way. Keats drank confusion to Newton for analyzing the rainbow, but the rainbow remained as beautiful as ever and became for many even more beautiful. Man has not changed because we look at him, talk about him, and analyze him scientifically. … What does change is our chance of doing something about the subject of a theory. Newton’s analysis of the light in a rainbow was a step in the direction of the laser.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  31. “The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.” ~ B. F. Skinner

  32. “A fourth-grade reader may be a sixth-grade mathematician. The grade is an administrative device which does violence to the nature of the developmental process.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  33. “The simplest and most satisfactory view is that thought is simply behavior – verbal or nonverbal, covert or overt. It is not some mysterious process responsible for behavior but the very behavior itself in all the complexity of its controlling relations.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  34. “Teachers must learn how to teach … they need only to be taught more effective ways of teaching.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  35. “If freedom is a requisite for human happiness, then all that’s necessary is to provide the illusion of freedom.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  36. “I’ve had only one idea in my life – a true idee fixe. To put it as bluntly as possible – the idea of having my own way. ‘Control!’ expresses it. The control of human behavior. In my early experimental days, it was a frenzied, selfish desire to dominate. I remember the rage I used to feel when a prediction went awry. I could have shouted at the subjects of my experiments, ‘Behave, damn you! Behave as you ought!” ~ B. F. Skinner
  37. “Was putting a man on the moon actually easier than improving education in our public schools?” ~ B. F. Skinner

  38. “In the traditional view, a person is free. He is autonomous in the sense that his behavior is uncaused. He can therefore be held responsible for what he does and justly punished if he offends. That view, together with its associated practices, must be re-examined when a scientific analysis reveals unsuspected controlling relations between behavior and environment.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  39. “The problem of far greater importance remains to be solved. Rather than build a world in which we shall all live well, we must stop building one in which it will be impossible to live at all.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  40. “Society attacks early when the individual is helpless. It enslaves him almost before he has tasted freedom. The ‘ologies’ will tell you how it’s done Theology calls it building a conscience or developing a spirit of selflessness. Psychology calls it the growth of the superego. Considering how long society has been at it, you’d expect a better job. But the campaigns have been badly planned and the victory has never been secured.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  41. “The juvenile delinquent does not feel his disturbed personality. The intelligent man does not feel his intelligence or the introvert his introversion.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  42. “Men build society and society builds men.” ~ B. F. Skinner

  43. “To say that… behaviors have different ‘meanings’ is only another way of saying that they are controlled by different variables.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  44. “A first principle not formally recognized by scientific methodologists: when you run into something interesting, drop everything else and study it.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  45. “Twenty-five hundred years ago it might have been said that man understood himself as well as any other part of the world. Today he is the thing he understands least.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  46. “At this very moment enormous numbers of intelligent men and women of goodwill are trying to build a better world. But problems are born faster than they can be solved.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  47. “Some of us learn control, more or less by accident. The rest of us go all our lives not even understanding how it is possible, and blaming our failure on being born the wrong way.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  48. “But restraint is the only one sort of control, and absence of restraint isn’t freedom. It’s not control that’s lacking when one feels ‘free’, but the objectionable control of force.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  49. “The one fact that I would cry from every housetop is this: the Good Life is waiting for us – here and now.” ~ B. F. Skinner

  50. “A disappointment is not generally an oversight. It might just be the best one can do the situation being what it is. The genuine error is to quit attempting.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  51. “Many instructional arrangements seem “contrived,” but there is nothing wrong with that. It is the teacher’s function to contrive conditions under which students learn. It has always been the task of formal education to set up behavior which would prove useful or enjoyable later in a student’s life.” ~ B F Skinner Quotes
  52. “A person’s genetic endowment, a product of the evolution of the species, is said to explain part of the workings of his mind and his personal history the rest.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  53. “To say that a man is sinful because he sins is to give an operational definition of sin. To say that he sins because he is sinful is to trace his behavior to a supposed inner trait. But whether or not a person engages in the kind of behavior called sinful depends upon circumstances which are not mentioned in either question. The sin assigned as an inner possession (the sin a person “knows”) is to be found in a history of reinforcement.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  54. “Indeed one of the ultimate advantages of an education is simply coming to the end of it.” ~ B. F. Skinner

  55. “Better contraceptives will control population only if people will use them. A nuclear holocaust can be prevented only if the conditions under which nations make war can be changed. The environment will continue to deteriorate until pollution practices are abandoned. We need to make vast changes in human behavior.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  56. “…not everyone is willing to defend a position of ‘not knowing.’ There is no virtue in ignorance for its own sake.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  57. “The majority of people don’t want to plan. They want to be free of the responsibility of planning. What they ask for is merely some assurance that they will be decently provided for. The rest is a day-to-day enjoyment of life. That’s the explanation for your Father Divines; people naturally flock to anyone they can trust for the necessities of life… They are the backbone of a community–solid, trust-worthy, essential.” ~ B F Skinner Quotes
  58. “Any single historical event is too complex to be adequately known by anyone. It transcends all the intellectual capacities of men. Our practice is to wait until a sufficient number of details have been forgotten. Of course, things seem simpler then! Our memories work that way; we retain the facts which are easiest to think about.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  59. “A piece of music is an experience to be taken by itself.” ~ B. F. Skinner

  60. “It has always been the task of formal education to set up behavior which would prove useful or enjoyable later in a student’s life.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  61. “In a world of complete economic equality, you get and keep the affections you deserve. You can’t buy love with gifts or favors, you can’t hold love by raising an inadequate child, and you can’t be secure in love by serving as a good scrubwoman or a good provider.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  62. “I will be dead in a few months. But it hasn’t given me the slightest anxiety or worry. I always knew I was going to die.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  63. “In the world at large, we seldom vote for a principle or a given state of affairs. We vote for a man who pretends to believe in that principle or promises to achieve that state. We don’t want a man, we want a condition of peace and plenty– or, it may be, war and want– but we must vote for a man.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  64. “Somehow people get the idea I think we should be given gumdrops whenever we do anything of value.” ~ B. F. Skinner
  65. “Punitive measures whether administered by police, teachers, spouses or parents have well known standard effects: (1) escape-education has its own name for that: truancy, (2) counterattack-vandalism on schools and attacks on teachers, (3) apathy-a sullen do-nothing withdrawal. The more violent the punishment, the more serious the by-products.” ~ B. F. Skinner

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