Everyone who is serious about understanding animals and modifying behavior knows the research of B.F. Skinner well. But only a few have met him personally. In her new book The Science of Consequences: How They Affect Genes, Change the Brain, and Impact Our World, author Dr. Susan Schneider reveals some of the lessons she learned during her 15 year friendship with the Father of Operant Conditioning. She shares some of her stories in an interview with me.
B.F. Skinner studied many aspects of learning, including: which types of reinforcement rates lead to the fastest learning and the strongest behavior, how learning extinguishes when reinforcers are discontinued, and the effects of intermittent reinforcers on extinction. From this data, he formulated a number of principles that shed light on the behavior of rats, pigeons and ultimately, humans. This was the birth of operant conditioning.
In the last blog, you learned about how and why Marian and Keller Breland started Animal Behavior Enterprises (ABE), the most successful and prolific animal training company that has ever existed. In this segment you’ll find out more about Bob Bailey, how Keller got involved in developing the first scientifically trained dolphin show, and what dolphins were trained for in the Navy. Bob also reveals the four most common trainer errors.
If you ask someone who they think is or was the best animal trainer in history you’ll get many different answers. Some may pick a dog trainer they have seen on T.V. or a lion or horse trainer they have seen at a show. Trainers who know the history of animal training agree that by far the best trainers who ever lived were Marian and Keller Breland—who for 47 years ran the most successful animal training business that ever existed.