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Behav Anal. 2011 Fall;34(2):149-70.

Observing ben wyckoff: from basic research to programmed instruction and social issues.

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West Virginia University.


L. Benjamin Wyckoff's seminal contributions to both psychological theory and application are the subject of this review. Wyckoff started his academic career as a graduate student at Indiana University, where he developed the observing-response procedure under the guidance of B. F. Skinner and C. J. Burke. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wyckoff refined his mathematical theory of secondary reinforcement. This theory was the impetus for his creation of an electronic simulation of a rat running a T maze, one of the first "computer models" of learning. Wyckoff next went to Emory University, leaving there to help create two of the most successful companies dedicated to the advancement of programmed instruction and teaching machines: Teaching Machines, Inc. and the Human Development Institute. Wyckoff's involvement in these companies epitomizes the application of basic behavior-analytic principles in the development of technology to improve education and human relationships. The emergent picture of Wyckoff is that of a man who, through his research, professional work in educational applications of behavioral principles, and active involvement in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, was strongly committed to applying behavioral science to positively influence human behavior change.


Benjamin Wyckoff; client-centered therapy; conditioned reinforcement; diversity issues; human relationships; observing responses; programmed instruction; teaching machines

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