The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Operant and Classical Conditioning

By Frances K. McSweeney; Eric S. Murphy | Go to book overview

Preface

The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Operant and Classical Conditioning surveys the field of contemporary behavior analysis. The book is organized into four parts. Part I summarizes the basic principles, theories, and physiological substrates of classical conditioning. Habituation, a related fundamental form of learning, is also covered. Part II describes applications of classical conditioning. These applications include taste aversions, phobias, and immune system responses. Part III provides a review of the basic operant conditioning literature. Coverage ranges from traditional topics, such as basic operant principles and schedules of reinforcement, to the more contemporary topics of behavioral economics, behavioral momentum, and dynamic changes in reinforcer effectiveness. The final section of the book covers the growing field of applied behavior analysis. These applications range from intensive behavioral treatment for children with developmental disabilities to organizational behavior management to behavior analytic approaches to aging.

We chose to cover the topics of operant and classical conditioning in the same book because the basic principles of these two types of learning are similar. Therefore, an understanding of one type of conditioning can contribute to an understanding of the other type. As a result, the two types of learning are traditionally covered in a single volume. We chose to cover both basic principles and applications in the same book because we could not leave out either topic without ignoring a substantial part of the current literature on conditioning. In addition, we believe that applications cannot be properly understood without coverage of the principles on which they are based. Likewise, the understanding of basic principles is enriched and enhanced by a discussion of their applications.

There are many potential topics to cover in the broad areas of classical and operant conditioning. The choice of topics for this book is somewhat arbitrary. We have tried to select topics that are broad in coverage and, therefore, interesting to a relatively wide audience. This is particularly true in the section on applied behavior analysis in humans. With the exceptions of the chapters on autism and aging, we have tried to select topics that affect almost everyone, rather than concentrate on treatments for particular populations. We have also tried to select topics in which substantial research progress has been made since earlier conditioning handbooks were published and we

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