Out of all the books that I could of wrote the book analysis over, I chose the book Walden Two by B.F. Skinner. I chose to read and analyze the book Walden Two, because I have heard a lot about it, and it sounded very interesting to me. Walden Two is a book about an utopian community from the eyes of Professor Burris who is a psychology teacher. The book starts off with two veterans coming back from WWII, named Rodge and Steve Jamnik.
Burris contacted Frazier, who then agreed to let him visit Walden Two, so he brought with him: Rodge, Steve, their girlfriends named Barbara and Marry, and Castle who works with him. Over the visit to Walden Two, they learn that people only have to work very few hours, and nothing costs money there. Burris then realizes that Frazier controls the human behavior of the people of Walden Two by reward and punishment. Frazier explains to Burris that Walden Two is an “experimental” community. In Walden Two, Frazier will add anything necessary to the community if it will benefit the people living there. All the people that visit Walden Two with Burris have a different opinion of the experimental community. Castle hated the idea of the experimental community while Steve, Mary, and Rodge loved the idea. Steve and Mary decided to stay at Walden Two but Rodge left because his girlfriend Barbara did not like the idea at all.
Lastly, Professor Burris can not decide if he likes the idea of Walden Two, but in the end, he decides he will stay with Frazier.In B.F. Skinner’s book Walden Two, the main principle of psychology evident in the book is behavior modification. Behavior modification involves using the techniques in operant and classical conditioning to change human behavior (MacLin, 2018). It is very evident from the beginning that Frazier is using behavior modification on everyone in Walden Two. Frazier uses behavior modification to improve on good behavior and reduce unfit behavior. In Walden Two, they would reinforce a behavior someone displayed that was good for the community. Frazier was against punishment because he believed that good behaviors are only learned when they reinforce it.In Walden Two, shaping was used extensively. Shaping, which is a part of behavior modification, is the process of rewarding successively closer approximations of a desired behavior (MacLin, 2018).
From early ages, the people of Walden Two had their behaviors shaped by always reinforcing the behavior that was wanted by Frazier. He also made sure to never reinforce a behavior that was exhibited that was not wanted. This would of caused the person who displayed that behavior to continue to exhibit it. Another psychological factor evident in Walden Two was token economies. Token economies give tokens that are redeemable for desired rewards or even privileges. Desired behaviors are reinforced with, in the case of Walden Two, labor-credits which you must earn at least 1,200 credits to stay apart of the community. Because all goods and services are free in Walden Two, the labor-credit system is set up to make people do less pleasant jobs and get rewarded with more credits per hour than someone doing a pleasant job. This system rewards someone who is doing something that many consider unpleasant to get rewarded with working less hours than others.
Associative learning is another factor that is very inherent in the story. Associative learning is learning that is directly connected to a positive or negative stimulus (MacLin, 2018). There is two main types of associative learning, which are operant conditioning and classical conditioning (Huddle, 2018). The most prevalent type of associative learning in Walden Two was operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is about learning the consequences to behaviors (MacLin, 2018). Frazier created his utopian society by using operant conditioning to influence thought and behavior of all the people of Walden Two. Walden Two uses operant conditioning by using rewards, schedule of reinforcements, and sometimes punishments to influence the citizens behaviors. Reinforcement is increasing the likelihood of responding in a similar way again in the future (MacLin, 2018). Where punishment is the opposite of reinforcement; decreasing the likelihood of responding in a similar way again in the future. To encourage a certain behavior, you must reinforce that behavior by positive or negative reinforcement. To discourage a behavior, you must punish that behavior by positive or negative punishment.
In the case of Walden Two, Frazier used positive and sometimes negative reinforcement because B.F. Skinner believed that nothing is learned with punishment. Skinner stated that “punishment simply displaces the behavior only to be acted out or manifested in a different context where it is less likely to be punished” (Skinner, 2014). In Walden Two, all the children are raised by the community rather than their parents so they all have the same common values. The children are rewarded through operant conditioning to be model citizens with the same belief systems as each other. Because of operant conditioning, everyone of Walden Two works hard and contributes to the society without complaining.Another psychological factor evident in Walden Two is competence. Competence is about being effective in the environment. The people of Walden were always motivated to do well because they wanted to feel like they were helping out the community in a positive way.
In conclusion, Walden Two by B.F. Skinner was a very interesting and great book. It had a ton of ties to psychological concepts, mostly dealing with behaviorism. It showed how it is possible to control one’s behavior by just using operant conditioning. Skinner believed that by creating the right environment we can predict and control behavior to the benefit of society. This book really opened my eyes to the possibilities and power behind operant conditioning to change a person or an animal’s behavior. Overall, I learned a lot of new information and also had tons of connections between our psychology textbook. I would definitely read this book again and recommend it to anyone that is a psychology major or just looking for a good read.
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