JOURNAL OF APPLIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS 1978, 11, 163-174 NUMBER 1 (SPRING 1978) BEHAVIORISM: PART OF THE PROBLEM OR PART OF THE SOLUTION? JAMES G. HOLLAND UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH The form frequently taken by behavior-modification programs is analyzed in terms of the parent science, Behaviorism. Whereas Behaviorism assumes that behavior is the re- sult of contingencies, and that lasting behavior change involves changing the contin- gencies that give rise to and support the behavior, most behavior-modification programs merely arrange special contingencies in a special environment to eliminate the "problem" behavior. Even when the problem behavior is as widespread as alcoholism and crime, behavior modifiers focus on "fixing" the alcoholic and the criminal, not on changing the societal contingencies that prevail outside the therapeutic environment and continue to produce alcoholics and criminals. The contingencies that shape this method of dealing with behavioral problems are also analyzed, and this analysis leads to a criticism of the current social structure as a behavior control system. Although applied behaviorists have frequently focused on fixing individuals, the science of Behaviorism provides the means to analyze the structures, the system, and the forms of societal control that produce the "problems". DESCRIPTORS: behavior principles, behavior analysis, social control, political psy- chology, community psychology, ethics EDITORs NOTE the question is past due for us: "Is Behaviorism The manuscript by Holland is clearly a part of the solution or part of the problem?" controversial one. Nonetheless, the manu- There are many people ready with answers to script raises interesting issues that deserve at- this question; many who object to what they see tention. In accord with JABA policy for dis- cussion articles, the manuscript is largely as an oppressive political system and who see unedited, as are the reviewers comments. stratified control by corporate leaders. For these Each manuscript or critique represents the people, Behaviorism is often seen as the problem authors opinion and should not be inter- preted as representing JABA policy or the and the behaviorist as another instrument in opinion of the editors or editorial board. their manipulation and in their exploitation. But -Editor the charge arises from too limited a view of be- haviorism. I will suggest to you that the analysis During the struggles of the 1960s, Eldridge of behavior provides the means to analyze theCleaver proclaimed: "If you are not a part of the structures, the system, the forms of societal con-solution, you are part of the problem." And now trol against which these very critics are rebelling. 1This paper was presented as an invited address to I will suggest that the view of humanity held bythe 1975 convention of the American Psychological the social reformer is supported, not refuted, byAssociation under the joint sponsorship of the Divi- the analysis of behavior. It is true that appliedsion for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and behavior analysts have, in overwhelming num-the APA Commission on Behavior Modification. Thepaper served also as the basis for a presentation to the bers, been hired to do jobs in the service of thoseVI International Seminar on Behavior Control in in power and, even though the science, Behavior-Panama, January, 1976. Reprints may be obtained ism, stands ready to be part of the solution, thefrom James G. Holland, Psychology Department,University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania applied behaviorist has too often been part of the15260. problem. But tomorrow, if we are true to our sci- 163
164 JAMES G. HOLLANDence, we can be part of the solution. For the sci- But the surprising thing about the role of behav-ence of the analysis of behavior is based on a ior modifiers is the frequency with which theyview of people compatible with social reform. accept the inner traits seen by their employers as the causes of the to-be-corrected behavior. Wil- BEHAVIOR-MODIFICATION SYSTEMS liam Ryan refers to this as "blaming the victim" (Ryan, 1971). The people whose behavior is to AND ESTABLISHED be modified are called "sociopaths" or "unmoti- POWER STRUCTURES vated" workers or "defective delinquents" or, if The cases against the present systems of be- very young, "predelinquents" or "hyperactive"havior modification are certainly by now well school kids. The behavior modifier then proceedsknown. In an earlier paper (Holland, 1975), I to arrange special reinforcement contingencies insuggested that the fears about a behaviorally special institutional environments. And the sub-controlled society could be evaluated by examin- jects whose behavior is so corrected are expecteding the miniature planned societies that exist to- to continue this new behavior regardless of theday-namely the token reinforcement systems contingencies that prevail outside the institution.found in prisons, mental hospitals, schools, the However, our basic science, the Experimentalarmy, and industry. When the prospects of a Analysis of Behavior, tells us that behaviorplanned behavioral society are so evaluated, the adapts to contingencies-any contingency-notdire predictions of the civil libertarian and the just those arranged by the psychologist. The be-social reformer are amply confirmed. The con- havior that bothers the employer of the behaviorcerns of "who controls the controller" express analyst is itself the result of contingencies. Ifa plea of manipulative or exploitive control in real, lasting changes are to be made, it is thesewhich people from one stratum (the controllers) contingencies that must be changed. Lasting be-set the goals, define contingencies, and dispense havior change requires the modification of thereinforcers to people on a lower, subjugated stra- contingencies that produce and maintain thetum (the controllees). I concluded my earlier original behavior.analysis as follows: In this context I would like briefly to consider three victims: the alcoholic, the criminal, and Guards reinforce prisoners; nurses reinforce the behavioral analyst, and discuss how behavior- patients, and teachers reinforce students. ists have contributed to their problems, while The fear of manipulative control is well behaviorism points toward a solution. founded when a professional-client rela- tionship is lacking. Subjects of these behav- The Alcoholic ior control systems are not clients. Behavior First the drunk-often the object of behavior modifiers in prisons are fundamentally and therapy-surely an unfortunate in need of help. inescapably responsible to the warden or For the jailed or hospitalized alcoholic, aversion Bureau of Correction, not the prisoner; in therapy is common (Miller and Barlow, 1973). the classroom, they are responsible to the In classical conditioning procedures, the various principal or Board of Education, not to the stimuli associated with drinking, such as the students. Put simply, todays token econo- taste of alcoholic beverages, visual stimuli, and mies support established power structures. even "imagining" drinking, are paired with a (Holland, 1975, p. 90) strong aversive stimulus, such as electric shock or drug-induced nausea. This conditioning pro- Those in authority who hire the behavior an- cedure is expected to establish the various stimulialysts and the analysts themselves may see their that accompany drinking as conditioned aversivecontrol as benevolent. Surely rulers usually do. stimuli.
BEHAVIORISM: PART OF THE PROBLEM OR PART OF THE SOLUTION? 165 Advocates of aversion therapy base confidence shocked for having an erection when shown ain their techniques on their understanding of lab- photograph, but the patient in therapy for im-oratory findings. However, the facts of discrim- potence is not shocked for failure to attain anination learning are neglected. The home, the erection in similar circumstances. If aversivebar, or streets in which the problem drinking therapy is at all effective, why is it reserved fornormally takes place are easily discriminated acts viewed as despicable? Is there an element offrom the contrived conditions of the clinic, or social retaliation in its use?even the simulated bars used to promote transfer I assume that therapists are motivated by hu-of training. Differences between these contrived manitarian concerns to help the patient. But thesettings and the real-life situations are still far problems of the individual have been defined bygreater than those found in laboratory discrim- others in such a way that aversive means of be-ination learning studies where responding regu- havior change are justified. This can be illus-larly comes under stimulus control. Behavior is trated in a study by Gallant (1970), who evalu-adaptable. It adjusts to the contingencies of re- ated a compulsory treatment program for "re-inforcement or punishment. Oddly, the behavior volving door" alcoholics. The "revolving door"therapist very often seems to miss this point. The alcoholic is one who is regularly arrested fortherapist attempts a technical fix for special de- drunkenness (at least in New Orleans, where thefects in the drunk by applying aversive stimuli study was conducted). Over 52% of the 210 pa-in the clinic, but outside the clinic all those con- tients in the study had been arrested more thanditions prevail that maintain the behavior in the 50 times and had averaged 14 convictions withinfirst place, and behavior adjusts to these condi- the year of their forced participation in the study.tions. One of the adjustments is drinking itself. A cooperative judge sentenced these people ei-And so the problem, as defined by the employer ther to serve a 90-day jail term or to "volunteer"of the behavior modifier, returns-hence recidi- to participate in Gallants experiment. Antabusevism or the lack of transfer. was used as a component of therapy. Antabuse Perhaps given the way the problem is defined, is a drug that induces severe nausea when alco-the punishing aspects of the technique might ac- hol is ingested. Hence, it is a form of aversiontually contribute to its use. Although the thera- therapy. You may judge whether the therapistspist may be well-intentioned, a society that scorn for revolving door alcoholics might haveviews the "skid row" alcoholic as worthy of scorn eased his decision to use a tortuous procedure.and retribution may encourage such abusive In support of coerced participation, Gallant saystreatment. It is interesting that aversive therapy of these patients:is used almost exclusively for behaviors that innontherapeutic settings are the object of severe It was decided to undertake the presentsanction and retaliation. Many condone, or de- compulsory treatment project, which at-mand, the punishment of the homosexual, the tempts to provide the "revolving door" al-child molester, the violent person, the drug ad- coholic with "something to lose" if he re-dict, and the drunk. These victims are the object turns to his former habits. To have "some-of scorn and retribution; they are also the object thing to lose" is essential to the apathetic,of aversion therapy. At the same time, aversion depressed, mistrusting and dependent alco-therapy is notably absent in the treament of a holic patient with a severe lack of essentialnumber of problems that do not generally re- anxiety or concern. (Gallant, 1970, p. 734)pulse others. The phobic is not shocked when he The alcoholics problem is defined as drinkingshows fear; nor is the under-assertive person and it is assumed that subjecting them to someshocked for passivity, unlike the over-assertive, temporary aversive conditioning might "cure"aggressive prisoner. A homosexual may be their drinking habits.
166 JAMES G. HOLLAND However, Gallants description of the demo- makes moderation more difficult by deepeninggraphic characteristics of the patient population the problems and establishing a vicious cycle.might suggest some other definitions of the prob- The short-term escape leads to wretched long-lem. Of the 210 patients, only four lived with term effects, which in turn lead to another short-a wife, 24 with relatives, and three with friends. term escape as the cycle continues.Most lived alone and over half had no perma- The very arrest record that so concerns Gal-nent residence. They were poor, unemployed, lant raises questions about the nature of these re-and the medical work-up revealed a host of se- inforcement contingencies. When behavior oc-vere physical problems. In general, the patients curs in high frequency, it is likely that thewould seem to be an unhappy and lonely lot behavior is being reinforced. Gallant fails towith more than enough problems. But the thera- recognize the significance of an anecdote he re-pist views alcohol to be the problem and treats it ports showing the functioning of natural contin-directly. Even when police harassment is recog- gencies in maintaining alcoholism. One of hisnized, the concern is with the problem it poses "revolving door" alcoholics called the police.tofor the evaluation data, not the problem it pre- report that a drunk was lying unconscious by thesents to the alcoholic. According to Gallant: phone booth. After hanging up, this alcoholic It was not unusual for some of these "re- left the booth and lay down beside it to await his own arrest. For the poor, the homeless, and the volving-door" alcoholics, who loitered in the "skid-row" areas, to be arrested when lonely, the jail may contain many important re- inforcers. Borrowing jargon from the animal they were not creating a disturbance . . . the officers were cognizant of the past his- psychologist, the jail may be the alcoholics goal box. tory of the loiterer and would have little Other behavior analysts have shown that hesitation in arresting the person if he ap- drinking is modifiable by direct reinforcement peared to be intoxicated. This unhealthy cy- procedures. Cohen, Liebson, and Faillace (1970) cle had to be broken. Otherwise, two of the used a token reinforcement system to manipulate important criteria of efficacy, which are ar- frequency of imbibing alcohol by hospitalized rest rate and conviction rate, would present alcoholics, and thereby demonstrated the operant confusing and unreliable results. (Gallant, nature of drinking. It is, they showed, governed 1970, p. 737) by its consequences. Quite properly, they sug-So cards were issued to subjects in the experi- gest that drinking problems seen by the profes-ment, which they could show to a police officer sional are a result of contingencies in the drink-attempting to pick them up. Police officers were ers environment. They particularly point out theinstructed not to arrest a cardholder "unless of role of the professional in actually providingcourse, he has committed an illegal offense". contingencies that may maintain drinking-in If the very theory on which behavior therapy their words:is based is correct, then the solution to a behav-ioral problem cannot rest in the specially ar- Some of the reinforcers which may be rele-ranged contingencies in the special environment vant to alcoholism in the outside world in-of the clinic. The contingencies of the natural clude hospitals and physicians care, andenvironment must be modified if the problem is welfare, and rehabilitative programs. Theyto be corrected. The abject misery and loneliness often provide powerful reinforcers, such asof Gallants skid-row alcoholics could provide a money, attention, drugs, medical and psy-solid operant basis for drinking as a means of es- chiatric care, guidance, and counseling tocape into unconsciousness. That the long-term the alcoholic. These services . . . are ofteneffect adds to the poverty and loneliness simply dispensed during or following excessive
BEHAVIORISM: PART OF THE PROBLEM OR PART OF THE SOLUTION? 167 drinking. Although these reinforcers may reinforcement of social behavior which ones not have initiated excessive drinking, they peers would otherwise treat as frivolous, inap- may make substantial contribution towards propriate, sentimental, or otherwise punishable. its maintenance. Perhaps some of these re- Drinking receives additional impetus from a inforcers might be dispensed systematically large industry. "Response cost" is minimized by contingent on moderation. (Cohen et al., good merchandising with ample, conveniently 1970, pp. 764-765) located bars and liquor stores. The industry spends 200 million dollars a year advertising Gallant failed to find any advantage for his hardy, masculine men "going around only once"compulsory aversive-therapy program. I hope he to "grab all the gusto" they can get in the formwill cease to use coercive procedures and I hope of a beer.he has learned that special clinic procedures can- A serious effort to solve the social problemsnot solve behavioral problems that are main- involved in drinking is not made by focusing ontained by conditions in the natural environment. the so-called "flawed personality" of the un-Alcoholism is not like appendicitis, in which re- sightly drunk. It is not to be solved by victimmoval of the malfunctioning part is the cure. blaming. It requires, as every behaviorist shouldRather, alcoholism is adaptive behavior. Gallant know, a change in the environmental contingen-might instead try in his New Orleans skid-row a cies that constitute daily business and culturalspecial community center with a free kitchen, a practices. Such change is not likely in the normaltelevision, games, and furniture arranged for functioning of the grand corporate syndicate thatconversation. Then, his ex-patients should be is America. Can you imagine the consequences ofgranted admission contingent on being sober. a sudden 50% reduction in alcohol consump- What of the common environmental contin- tion? We had a small taste of a comparablegencies that establish and maintain drinking? problem when the Arab oil embargo pressed usIt would seem obvious that the taste and imme- to solve our many problems associated with thediate pharmacological effects are reinforcing. overuse of the automobile. But normalcy pre-Also, the withdrawal symptoms of the addict are vailed as techniques to keep profits up at any so-important in maintaining drinking. But in our cial cost were developed.society, drinking plays such a prominent socialrole that contingent reinforcement for drinking The Criminalis widespread. To arrange for social contacts in The criminal, like the alcoholic, suffers froma light, friendly spirit we hold a cocktail party. victim blaming. The prison system has as oneWhen a difficult problem is to be discussed in a aim the correction of alleged personality flawsless threatening or more leisurely manner, we viewed as the cause of criminal behavior. Thearrange to get together over a beer. The cama- professional is hired to correct these traits and toraderie of the neighborhood bar at the end of rehabilitate the prisoner. The vocabulary of thethe work day is full of reinforcing social con- prison establishment reflects this approach. Pris-tacts over a drink. A boy approaches a girl with ons are called "correctional" institutions, guardsan offer to buy her a drink. In fact, the path to are called "correctional officers", and the "hole"the bedroom may include cocktails, wine with or solitary confinement is called the "behavioraldinner, and after-dinner drinks. The nondrinker adjustment unit". When the behavior analystmisses many of these reinforcers; in fact, the is hired he goes along with the systems defini-nondrinking businessman who forgoes the mid- tion of the problem and sets up token economiesday cocktail and official business cocktail parties and behavior therapy programs to "correct" themight be occupationally handicapped. In all individual, even though the behaviorists knowl-of these instances, alcohol serves as an SD for edge of the principles of behavior control should
168 JAMES G. HOLLANDinspire a search for the controlling variables in to a little more than one-third of that amountthe world of the criminal. It should then be of (or $608 million). Poor and rich alike commitno great surprise that a thorough survey of fol- illegal acts for economic gain. Our society islowup research on prison rehabilitation pro- highly stratified, and at any level there is a strug-grams (including some behavioral ones) failed gle to increase status and happiness through in-to find credible evidence for the effectiveness of dividualistic competitive efforts (legal or ille-any in reducing recidivism (Martinson, 1974). gal). Status is defined by wealth and levels of It is time, then, that the behaviorist stop tin- consumption. The competitive system praiseskering with what he or she knows are fictional those who acquire even at the expense of others.mental causes and look to the contingencies that There are differences in deprivation and accessproduce the "criminal" behavior. This is a large that explain the class differences in crimes. Theorder, but I would like to suggest a few tentative poor and unemployed have no opportunity torelationships in the hope of getting the analysis cheat on taxes or embezzle funds. Their level ofstarted. First, it is necessary to recognize the basic needs forces them into the dangerous, butscope and variety of the problem called crime. available street crimes that are public, and henceAlthough a special subset-the lower class-is more frequently result in arrest. The better-offdisproportionately represented in the prison pop- need not be involved in burglary. Their crimesulation, studies of anonymous self-reports (Dol- are safer and can occur in the privacy of theireschal and Klapmuts, 1973) show that over homes or offices. In fact, their public stance may90% of the adult male population has commit- be to defend truth and righteousness. To borrowted criminal acts. a thought from Kurt Vonnegut, you may es- As behaviorists, we might correctly suppose tablish a reputation for truthfulness so as to bethat legal and illegal behavior are similarly con- believed when you lie.trolled. Most crime is for economic gain and so Economic wealth, nature of deprivation, anddirect reinforcement is at its base. For example, response opportunity explain only part of theaccording to the 1970s FBIs Uniform Crime pattern of crime. Criminal justice is itself de-Reports, 87% of the crimes were classified as signed to deter crime, and as such involves avoid-property crimes (which includes larceny over ance contingencies. While this deterent effect$50.00, automobile theft, burglary, and so on). does not stop the crimes from occurring, it playsOf the remaining "crimes against persons", half an important role in shaping the nature and thewere robbery which, while involving personal magnitude of the crime. The act that occurs,confrontation, are at base also economic. Thus, given the opportunity, depends on its probabil-939% were crimes resulting in economic gain. ity and probable magnitude of punishment.The sensational ritual killer and child molester Therefore, street crimes occur in safe areas,so prominent in law-and-order discussions and which, ironically, also tend to be among theyellow journalism reports are a very small por- poor. Law enforcement is better in better neigh-tion of the imprisoned, and even there they are borhoods and the poor, black prowler more con-usually outcasts among the prisoners. spicuous. Similarly, the tax cheat avoids outra- But the vast bulk of crime is not included in geous deductions that invite audit, and we havethe FBI statistics, which exclude much of white all been victimized by small consumer fraudscollar crime. Estimates made by the Presi- that leave us defenseless, because the cost of re-dents Commission on Law Enforcement (1967) covering the loss is larger than the loss itself.suggested that white-collar crimes of embezzle-ment, fraud, tax cheating, and forgery amount to The Behavior Analyst$1.73 billion, while crimes of the poor-rob- How is it that behavior analysts fail to focusbery, burglary, auto theft, and larceny-amount on the maintaining contingencies in the behavior
BEHAVIORISM: PART OF THE PROBLEM OR PART OF THE SOLUTION? 169of the criminal or the drunk? Surely our behav- must, by the time of the convention, commandior is the result of natural contingencies also. sufficient campaign funds to secure the nomina-Hence, my third victim-ourselves and our aca- tion. I trust recent events made clear where thesedemic colleagues. In the layered stratified hier- funds come from. After the election, the richarchies of control, we are high enough that it is are amply rewarded with cabinet positions andparticularly important to look at sources of con- special advisory roles. Much public policytrol and contingencies designed to shape our be- adopted by the executive branch is not formedhavior. Over the past decade, social scientist within the government at all, but by specialWilliam Domhoff has carried out research that groups and commissions that are dominated byhas given us a number of insights. I will present the ruling class. For example, the Council ona broad outline of his conclusions and encourage Foreign Affairs has been the important formu-you to read his books for their rather impressive lator of foreign policy (Domhoff, 1970).array of supporting data. Domhoff (1967) has From these lofty heights the objectives of ouroperationally defined membership in a social society are formulated, the aims and values areupper-class (which comprises less than one-half set in conformity with the perspective of theof 1 % of the population). He finds evidence that upper-class who, let me hasten to add, are benev-this hereditary social upper-class is also a gov- olent rulers. But what of our reinforcement onerning class by examining the social backgrounds meeting these designated objectives? In general,of policymakers in business and government. our lot in life is good. We are paid very well in-Members of the social upper-class, along with deed, relative to those whose behavior we targetsome nonhereditary wealthy school chums and for change. Once we are within the system, weclub-mates who hold top executive positions in have a high degree of security and can painlesslytheir major corporations, govern first through the pass through periods during which newspapersdirect control of major corporations both by report 10% unemployment. We have a high de-ownership (they hold 75 % of corporate stock) gree of prestige and could easily believe we de-and by direct representation in sizable numbers serve this because of superior intelligence, merit,on corporate boards. These boards interlock ex- motivation, and the rights of passage sufferedtensively, with some persons holding seats across during graduate comps, orals, and defense. It isseveral corporations. In addition, the ruling class tempting for even the behaviorist to ignore hiscontrol the major foundations which are so im- science and accept victim-praising inner causes.portant in defining public policy and problems. Wrapped in our security and benefits-low-These foundations, of course, are themselves cost home mortgages, group insurance rates, tui-products of the wealthy and serve as mattresses tion benefits for our families, retirement funds-under which the wealthy hide their money. The we lead a worry-free life as long as we can avoiduniversities that hire us are similarly dominated losing it. Technically, you will recognize thisby this ruling class, through individual and cor- contingency as an avoidance schedule, but unlikeporate contributions and through heavy repre- aversion therapy programs this is avoidance ofsentation on university board of trustees. The withdrawal of positive reinforcement. If youmedia, television, large-circulation magazines, sometimes feel hassled by this control regimen,and major metropolitan newspapers are almost you no doubt appreciate the line from a songall owned by ruling-class members and further sung by Janis Joplin: "Freedoms just anotherinfluenced by the wishes of their major advertis- word for nothing left to lose". But as long as weers who (need I say it?) are the major corpora- can avoid losing our reinforcement system, wetions. The executive branch of the federal gov- climb a neatly arranged set of job classificationsernment is likewise controlled by this power in the university from instructor to professor.elite. The presidential nominee of either party The various review processes tend to reinforce
170 JAMES G. HOLLANDorthodoxy-political, professional, and social. the individuals. Though behavior modifiers knowOur young colleagues should have no fear, since better, they often treat prisoners as though theyif they manage to prove for six years that their are maladapted and can be "fixed" in a behavior-academic freedom needs no defense, they will be modification system, returned to the reinforce-granted tenure to assure their academic freedom. ment system from which they reached prison, But our aspiring young colleagues must also and somehow expect that those contingenciespublish, and so must we. We generally proceed that shaped the criminal behavior originally willas though we believe that a productive line of not now exert control.research requires funds. To obtain these funds,we go to organizations that define problems they Analyzing the System, Not the Victimwish to see solved. We have seen already that the But clearly, behaviorists (and radical reform-major source of funds is dominated by a small ers) know that credit or blame rests with the sys-ruling class. The problems, then, are defined and tem. In operant conditioning laboratories, behav-policies set by those who gain the most from our ior of individual organisms is shaped in precisecurrent economic, social, and political systems. and replicable ways, using simple and complex The myth of inner causes is fostered because contingencies of reinforcement, avoidance, orof the reinforcement provided to the elite and punishment. When the apparatus is changedbecause of the myths role in maintaining the from one schedule to another, the behaviorcurrent system. Those high in the hierarchy of changes from one stable pattern through a transi-power are said to have ascended through great tion phase to the new pattern appropriate for thepersonal merit. The rich were free to use their new set of contingencies. Automated equipmentinner resources, their will, their determination, controls these experiments and defines the con-their motivation, their intelligence to reach their trolling contingencies. To the pigeon, the contin-high level. Inner causes serve as justification for gencies programmed by the equipment are itsthose who profit from inequality. societal system, and the pigeon behaves appropri- A special set of inner causes is reserved for ately to that system. Our contingencies arethe poor. They are said to be lazy, to lack ambi- largely programmed in our social institutions andtion, to be untalented. Those who get the most it is these systems of contingencies that determinefrom the social system might find it punishing our behavior. If the people of a society are un-to view their own good fortune as the result of a happy, if they are poor, if they are deprived, thensystem that exploits those below and creates it is the contingencies embodied in institutions, inpoverty and unhappiness. If so, verbal state- the economic system, and in the governmentments that attribute each persons position in so- which must change. It takes changed contingen-ciety to personal traits, either innate or the result cies to change behavior. If social equality is aof a "disadvantaged" subculture, would be rein- goal, then all the institutional forms that main-forced. tain stratification must be replaced with forms And it is especially important for those on top that assure equality of power and equality ofto convince those on the bottom that their plight status. If exploitation is to cease, institutionalis their own fault. So Time and Atlantic Monthly forms that assure cooperation must be developed.provide instant fame for the latest version of Thus, experimental analysis provides a support-Social Darwinism, even when these views are ing rationale for the reformer who sets out toconsidered faulty by many scientists. Sadly, even change systems.those who sell their talents as behavior modifiers Behavior analysis also provides some basis forsometimes accept the victim-blaming definitions optimism. A contingency analysis shows inherenton which funding policies rest; and they attempt flaws in a stratified control system which should,to fix, not environments, but the inner nature of in time, bring about its change, and a wider un-
BEHAVIORISM: PART OF THE PROBLEM OR PART OF THE SOLUTION? 171derstanding of Behaviorism should accelerate with authority over them. Prisoners may gainthis process. Behaviorism will be part of the more in reinforcement through devising unpro-solution. grammed alternatives than through carefully While meeting the stratified systems goals, programmed contingencies leading to small re-our behavior-change programs also follow the inforcers.form of power relationships characteristic of our Second, exploitative systems using only posi-society (Holland, 1975). Thus, ironically, even tive reinforcement are exceedingly difficult toas we serve power, our behavior-modification design. If wealth is to accumulate at the top, itsystems are beginning to give the social reformer must be sparingly distributed among the con-an advantage. Behavior modification models the trollees at the bottom. When a behavior-modifi-normal societal control process and makes the cation program seems entirely positive, usuallyprocess explicit and clearer. Reinforcement con- coercion or restraint is required at the boundariestingencies are clearly stated. Objectives are to keep the controllee in the system. A prisonspelled out. Responsibility for dispensing rein- token economy still requires prison walls andforcement is made explicit. As a model of the armed guards to keep the prisoners from leavingparent society, it gives us a chance for a behavior before they earn graduation from the program.analysis of control in that society. In the token-economy program for Army basic There are several problems intrinsic to a training (Datel and Legters, Note 1) it is un-stratified control system. First, when the interest likely that the recruit would diligently work forof the controller and the controllee are different, points toward a weekend pass if it were not forcontrollers should find it exceedingly difficult to the well-known aversive consequences of deser-design any contingency management system so tion.well that the controllee will not find alternative Similarly, the effective use of minimal rein-routes to reinforcement which are subversive to forcement requires prior deprivation states. Thethe aim of the controller. To a prisoner, success working poor can be made to work for limitedin a behavior-modification system can be a gain only if they are kept poor. It is not likelymeans of early parole. The prisoner can fake at- that people could be kept hungry in a wealthytitude change to obtain his tokens. Prisoners country without armed forces and a prison sys-call this practice shamming, and written instruc- tem. And, indeed, in the prison token economy,tions for shamming circulate in an underground the prisoner begins in solitary confinement, ancommunication network in some prisons. Other extreme state of deprivation, and works to earnprisoners resist behavior modification by hiring positive reinforcement in the form of points. Alawyers and fighting in the courts; others refuse behavior-modification system itself may use onlyto accept reinforcement even when it includes positive reinforcement, but if the higher stratapromotion from solitary confinement. are to keep the greater share of the wealth and With stratification of power between control- privileges, restraint and coercion must be used toler and controllee, there is a reinforcement basis keep the controllee within the rules of the sys-for struggle and resistance by the controlled. tem.When goals are set from above to adapt the sub- Aversive control generates counter control;jugated to standards imposed from above, there although the carrot and the stick may generateis a clear behavioral basis for counter control. It less counter control than the stick alone, in timeis not in the prisoners interest to be shaped into the aversive conditions required to keep the con-obedience to authority; there have been, and con- trollee in contact with the limited reinforcementtinue to be, good reasons for their resistance to system should generate counter control. Unequalauthority. Authorities have repeatedly exploited wealth and power require protection by coercivethem, giving privilege and wealth to those forces. This generates counter control, class
172 JAMES G. HOLLANDstruggle, and the eventual replacement of the take part in defining criterion behavior and as-system. Here is a basis of natural selection for sessment of performances for both themselvescultural practices which could favor an egalitar- and their peers. A group at Mendocino State inian system. California (Rozynko, Swift, Swift, and Boggs, 1973) has created communities of hospitalized alcoholics who work together in behaviorally BEHAVIORISM AND A analyzing their problems. All of these examples FUTURE SOCIETY are limited in two important ways: they exist in How does our science, Behaviorism, and its special isolated environments and they haveapplication move on to furthering the solution? within them the contradiction of a Frazier-anIt would seem we need to move toward collective elite designer.forms-forms based on cooperation, forms that What we need today is an extensive and vig-maximize reinforcement for helping others, in- orous analysis of the controlling conditions instead of reinforcement at the expense of others. our society. What are the contingencies in theInteresting efforts in doing such work are based work place? What are the various means byon what I call the "Frazier" model. The Frazier which people are kept segmented and compart-model draws from Walden II (Skinner, 1948), mentalized and exploited by such pigeon-hold-itself an extremely interesting example of be- ing? Now, from all I have said, it should behavioral community that I think practical, egali- clear that we cannot expect funding for this ac-tarian, and socially radical. It came into being tivity. Promotion even within the academicbecause Frazier benevolently created it and was world will be difficult, since to be part of the so-himself somehow removed from the specific con- lution the audience for our findings must includetingencies of Walden II. There are numerous people other than academicians. I can hardlyreal-life attempts at egalitarian behavioral socie- expect that the third of my trio of victims, theties in the form of communes, notably Twin behavior analyst, should suddenly be free of con-Oaks in Virginia (Kinkade, 1973), and a pro- trols and be propelled toward this work in sys-foundly impressive one in which Keith Miller tem-blaming. But unexpected help may lay(1976) at the University of Kansas plays Frazier ahead. With the liberal attack on behavior modi-to a communal student-housing project. Millers fication, the establishment may simply throw usefforts are impressive because they are complete away. The liberal reformer will have won a greatwith data collection, specification of job descrip- victory and the ruling elite will laugh over cock-tions and procedures that evolved from the proj- tails in their clubs because they know behaviorect. I have taken to playing Frazier in an under- control will continue in much the same form.graduate course I teach in behavioral control in Then, with our freedom, with nothing left tosociety. The class is formed into collectives of lose, the analysis may proceed toward solutions.about 10 to 15 students. Members of each col- Our old practices, useful when we embracedlective work together and prepare each other be- victim-blaming and victim-praising must behaviorally to analyze social systems for a col- modified. Some new methodology is called for.lective project. They are tested individually, but I suggest that we need to work with people inthe assigned grade is the average for all individu- all our social institutions in analyzing the contin-als in a collective. I have simply stopped giving gencies that oppress them. We bring to this en-competitive, individual grades and the results terprise certain specialized knowledge and skillsare most exciting. Attempts in total institutions in the use of data; they bring direct specializedhave been made as well. Fairweather (1964) ex- experience with those day-to-day contingencies.perimented with group reinforcement systems on They are also the audience for the results of thea ward in a mental hospital. Here, the patients analysis; we and they, as collaborators, can
BEHAVIORISM: PART OF THE PROBLEM OR PART OF THE SOLUTION? 173evolve experimental solutions to societys prob- of others can be immediately assessed. Shouldlems. group members display elitist behavior, such as There is a precedent for the effort to listen gaining special individual advantage at the ex-carefully to what people say and analyze the pense of others, the group would criticize thecontrolling contingencies of this behavior. Skin- behavior. The smallest beginning signs of such aners Verbal Behavior (Skinner, 1957) is rich in "social disease" would be dealt with in thejust such examples. It has long been a laboratory group. Unlike todays society, behaviors that canaxiom that the organism knows best. We must get someone into trouble would not go throughadopt this with a new seriousness. The person is a natural shaping process in which small exam-a mirror for his or her response contingencies. ples of unacceptable behaviors are reinforcedBehavior is adaptive. It has a close integrity with and allowed to grow in size until suddenly an in-the controlling contingencies. The behaviorist dividual is in trouble with the legal system.should listen carefully as partner and colleague Monitoring of contingencies in peer groupsin social reform. Our role in the change process could be precise and detailed. A group of peerswill be as a catalyst-to assist in the design of who work and live together and discuss the sig-solutions. nificance of their work and life together, can de- I cannot overly emphasize the importance of tect the smallest progress toward fulfilling a goalalways understanding the adaptive nature of be- or the earliest sign of incorrect thought andhavior, since the problem-definers traditionally provide the appropriate feedback promptly.consider so much behavior maladaptive. We us- There is no need for a separate, distant elite at-ually marvel at the intricate biological forms tempting to evaluate performance. Peers evalu-that evolve through natural selection. These as- ate each others movement toward shared goals.tounding variations reflect generations of shift- Because goals are shared, there is little to being environmental conditions. Similarly, a per- gained by deliberate deception or subversion.sons behavior reflects response contingencies. Because of the closeness among group membersWe should be as respectful and awed by these and coworkers, fine subtleties can be analyzedadaptations as we are of evolutionary adapta- for positive or negative comment. Moreover,tions. this peer approval is likely to be much more What direction might this collective explora- powerful than the tokens dispensed by a disaf-tion of controlling contingencies take? I realize fected elite.it is presumptuous to hazard a guess in advance In summary, fundamental truths adducedof a series of necessary experiments. However, from an empirical laboratory and politically neu-I think it probable that the analysis of control- tral science have laid the basis for this analysisling contingencies will reveal deep contradic- of social systems. I have tried to show that in ations in our stratified system, and will reveal pro- stratified system there are built-in contingenciesfound problems in our ideology of "doing your for struggle by the oppressed. The standard useown thing" and maximizing personal gain. I of victim-blaming and inner causes itself has athink the analysis will naturally draw us toward behavioral basis, in that it reinforces the statusa community of equality, with service to others quo; this is so even though the science of behav-and responsibilities for others as guiding princi- ior has made such inner causes unsatisfactory asples. One reason for my expectation is that supe- explanations of behavior. A wider disseminationrior behavior control is possible in a community of the methods for analyzing controlling contin-of peers. When all the day-to-day acts of each gencies can accelerate the creation of a nonop-individual are evaluated communally in terms of pressive society and the passing away of the so-the criteria of "service to others", small begin- cial problems for which victims are themselvesnings of elitism or personal gain at the expense so often blamed.
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