Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

Previous Page


Paper Session #271
History and Historiography: B. F. Skinner Archives and Artifacts
Sunday, May 28, 2017
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom F/G
Area: PCH
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Chair: Per Holth (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences)
Skinner in Boxes at Harvard Archives
Domain: Theory
PER HOLTH (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences)
Abstract: Skinner archived and left behind a huge material of correspondence, manuscripts, notes, lectures, recordings, films, press clips, reactions to his work, and his own responses to some of those reactions. A portion of this material has been handed over from the B. F. Skinner Foundation to the Pusey Library at Harvard. This presentation will give an overview of archived Skinner material, from Harvard as well as from the foundation, and display and discuss several pieces of Skinner's communication with F. S. Keller, W. S. Hunter, E. B. Tolman, E. G. Boring, M. Sidman, C. Ferster, K. Breland, N. Azrin, D. Premack, and others. Also included are examples filed by Skinner under the heading "Letters from psychotics," and letters that described his views on his nomination as APA president and on personal awards. Moreover, letters from the las few years of his life convey his changing views on a science of behavior versus psychology.
B.F. Skinner Plays Himself: Outtakes From A Film Biography
Domain: Theory
Abstract: The only major film biography of B.F. Skinner was attempted in the early 1970s. Despite an ambitious directorial vision, the completed film was a disappointment to Skinner and limited to the educational market. The original 16mm film and audio elements from the project are housed at the Harvard Film Archive. This paper focuses on the segments of film where Skinner is directed to act for the camera as himself, on his own, with his family or with colleagues. The footage serves as a sort of ethnography of Skinner in his 70s - a world-famous, notorious, brilliant and caring behaviorist. He walks the streets of Cambridge, performs his morning routine, celebrates his birthday with grandkids, wanders around Walden Pond and more. These portions of the film attempt to show the whole human, not just the scientist, and they are most revealing when viewed as raw footage rather than edited into a traditional film. They are especially poignant when considered in contrast to commonly held misconceptions about B.F. Skinner's personal life. This presentation will include segments of raw footage along with text from documents produced over the course of filmmaking process.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh