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Herbert Spencer's contributions to behavior analysis: A retrospective review of Principles of Psychology

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Leslie, Julian (2006) Herbert Spencer's contributions to behavior analysis: A retrospective review of Principles of Psychology. JOURNAL OF THE EXPERIMENTAL ANALYSIS OF BEHAVIOR, 86 (1). pp. 123-129. [Journal article]

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DOI: 10.1901/jeab.2006.04-06


Herbert Spencer's Principles of Psychology (1855, first edition) was regarded by his contemporaries, including William James and John Dewey, as a major contribution to what was then a very new discipline. In this book he first expounded his ideas about both evolution of species and how behavior of the individual organism adapts through interaction with the environment. His formulation of the principle that behavior changes in adaptation to the environment is closely related to the version of the law of effect propounded some years later by Thorndike. He can thus be seen as the first proponent of selectionism, a key tenet of behavior analysis. He also explicitly attacked the then prevailing view of free will as being incompatible with the biologically grounded view of psychological processes that fie was advocating, and thus put forward ideas that were precursors of B. F. Skinner's in this important area of debate.

Item Type:Journal article
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Life and Health Sciences
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences > School of Psychology
Research Institutes and Groups:Psychology Research Institute
Psychology Research Institute > Behavioural Neuroscience & Behavioural Analysis
ID Code:1647
Deposited By:Mrs Fiona Harkin
Deposited On:23 Dec 2009 09:31
Last Modified:13 Mar 2012 16:33

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