University of New Hampshire Culture Behavior Questions DiscussionSchool

University of New Hampshire Culture Behavior Questions DiscussionSchool


University of New Hampshire Culture Behavior Questions DiscussionSchool

University of New Hampshire

Question Description

Choose one from each of the first three pairs of questions, and everybody does question 4.6 pages total, but you can divide up question lengths any way you want.

1A) The problems the world faces today are often framed as failures of will, the result of bad attitudes, lack of awareness, or some similar phrase. What (if anything) is wrong with this? What does behaviorism propose as a different explanation?

1B) Are behaviorist explanations of individual behavior acceptable to you, or do you prefer cognitive (mentalistic) explanations? What are the reasons for your preference?

2A) Psychology is accustomed to a mechanistic view, with computer metaphors (the modern clockwork equivalent) and mental mechanisms. How does contextualism’s (and behaviorism’s) view of behavior as necessarily extended in time and environment address the things we used to think of as mental mechanisms? (If you wish, include your assessment of how well you think this works.)

2B) Choose a social problem. Describe this problem in terms of behavior at the level of individual contingencies, in terms of metacontingencies, and in terms of macrocontingencies (choose your problem carefully, and be clear about which explanation is which!)

3A) I recently read something (paragraph attached below), and am still processing it, but it seems very related to concerns about Freedom and Dignity as we have discussed them. In your informed opinion, how does this paragraph illustrate (or if you prefer, how is it explained by) Skinner’s notions of Freedom and Dignity, as he defined and analyzed them? (I take no position on the paragraph itself, but I do ask that you not try to search for it; the rest of the article might introduce a bias. I promise I will reveal the source.)

3B) The US has more people in prison (both in raw numbers and per capita) than any comparable nation. Our prison population has skyrocketed since Skinner wrote his chapters on punishment and its alternatives. Do you think our society’s fondness for imprisonment is still, as Skinner claimed, a result of our irrational defense of the notion of free will and personal responsibility? Is this all, part, or none of the explanation today?

4) We discussed three different approaches (modules, “ABC analysis”, and Players & Power).

While it is true that each approach is a re-packaging of the same underlying method, the three entry points serve different purposes. Take a hypothetical problem (it can be a real one, but you want to use something that serves as a good illustration) and show the process of our method, assuming you are trying to address your hypothetical in a community you are not already familiar with. Be clear in identifying what parts of our approach you are doing at each stage. What is the overall goal of the approach, taken as a whole?

Paragraph for question 3A

Americans are, of course, the most thoroughly and passively indoctrinated people on earth. They know next to nothing as a rule about their own history, or the histories of other nations, or the histories of the various social movements that have risen and fallen in the past, and they certainly know little or nothing of the complexities and contradictions comprised within words like “socialism” and “capitalism.” Chiefly, what they have been trained not to know or even suspect is that, in many ways, they enjoy far fewer freedoms, and suffer under a more intrusive centralized state, than do the citizens of countries with more vigorous social-democratic institutions. This is at once the most comic and most tragic aspect of the excitable alarm that talk of social democracy or democratic socialism can elicit on these shores. An enormous number of Americans have been persuaded to believe that they are freer in the abstract than, say, Germans or Danes precisely because they possess far fewer freedoms in the concrete. They are far more vulnerable to medical and financial crisis, far more likely to receive inadequate health coverage, far more prone to irreparable insolvency, far more unprotected against predatory creditors, far more subject to income inequality, and so forth, while effectively paying more in tax (when one figures in federal, state, local, and sales taxes, and then compounds those by all the expenditures that in this country, as almost nowhere else, their taxes do not cover). One might think that a people who once rebelled against the mightiest empire on earth on the principle of no taxation without representation would not meekly accept taxation without adequate government services. But we accept what we have become used to, I suppose. Even so, one has to ask, what state apparatus in the “free” world could be more powerful and tyrannical than the one that taxes its citizens while providing no substantial civic benefits in return, solely in order to enrich a piratically overinflated military-industrial complex and to ease the tax burdens of the immensely wealthy?

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