What’s wrong with daily life in the western world? A commentary on Skinner’s landmark article for the 21st century.

BACB CEUs: 1.5

Duration: 83 minutes

CE Instructor: Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D, President of bSci21Media, LLC

Abstract: In this audio-only event, Dr. Ward and Angela Cathey discuss Skinner’s landmark article “What’s wrong with daily life in the western world?”.  In doing so, they elaborate upon Skinner’s main points within the context of 21st century society.  While Skinner’s main points still apply, they suggest some are now outdated.  Skinner’s main hypothesis was that society has evolved based on the pleasing effects, rather than the strengthening effects of reinforcers.  As such, much of our behavior is maintained by weak contingencies predominated by escape and avoidance.  Specific topics include: the alienation of the worker from the products of his/her labor, the misalignment of contingencies in education with those encountered post-graduation, the #metoo movement of 2017, entrepreneurship, war, relationships, and much more.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to distinguish between the pleasing and strengthening effects of reinforcers.
  2. Participants will be able to describe Skinner’s view that the workforce is controlled by escape contingencies.
  3. Participants will be able to describe how cultural selection is outpacing natural selection.

The original citation for Skinner’s paper is below:

Skinner, B. F. (1986). What is wrong with daily life in the Western world? American Psychologist, 41(5), 568-574.


This course has one lesson, followed by a quiz.

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