The ABCs of Behavior Analysis:
An Introduction to Learning and Behavior
A. Charles Catania
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
300 pages / paper / $88.95
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This new, undergraduate version of Catania’s Learning maintains the coherent treatment of animal and human learning that has been the hallmark of earlier versions. This new book has been tightened and reorganized especially for undergraduate use and for use with students new to behavior analysis. Along with chapters on positive and negative reinforcement, operant classes, stimulus control, motivating operations, and basic schedules of reinforcement, it includes new chapters on sensory systems and on applied behavior analysis.
The general structure of this new version highlights the basic concepts of behavior analysis and demonstrates their relevance to a wide range of issues with concrete human examples and relevant narratives. It discusses widespread misconceptions about reinforcement; it outlines and updates the rationale for preferring free or noncontingent reinforcement over extinction as an instrument of behavior change; and it relates discrimination as a technical term to discrimination as it occurs in society while using the distinction between discrimination and prejudice to contrast the effects of direct social contingencies with those brought about by verbal shaping and verbal governance.
Other topics given special attention are higher-order classes, equivalence classes, sources of novel behavior, and self-awareness. Selection by consequences remains a unifying theme, and the roots of verbal behavior are shown to grow out of basic nonverbal behavioral processes. Its coverage of relevant research is supplemented by discussions of implications for ethics, politics, and cultural practices.
The ABCs of Behavior Analysis is not a psychology book. It is truly a behavior analysis book. It is about how behavior works and its emphasis is on behavior analysis as a science in its own right.