Can B.F. Skinner Make Us Skinny?

May 30 2012 @ 6:52pm

With the help of smartphone apps, the psychologist's theory of behavior modification is making a comeback:

[T]oday’s electronic nudges and tweaks are identical in purpose [to Skinner's interventions]: use what you can control to affect what you can’t. The simple elegance of this concept flips on its head Chomsky’s suggestion that behavior modification treats people as if they were no more intelligent than animals. What distinguishes our intellect from animals’ is not that we can go against our environment—most of us can’t, not in the long run—but rather that we can purposefully alter our environment to shape our behavior in ways we choose.