The paper describes a utopian society that is created using Skinner’s principles of operant conditioning. The basic principles and norms of family and community relationships are discussed. The paper evaluates the basics of the community’s economic and criminal justice system. My Personal Utopian Society B. F. Skinner is fairly regarded as one of the most prominent figures in behavioral psychology. His experiments and theoretical elaborations resulted in the development of a new theory of operant conditioning – the turning point in the human understanding of psychology and human behaviors.
In his writings on behaviorism and operant conditioning, B. F. Skinner openly voted against punishment: even before he became a well-known psychologist, Skinner had been opposing to punishment by all possible means (O’Donohue & Ferguson, 2001). With time, Skinner came to recognize the usefulness of punishment in particular conditions an in relation to particular subjects. In his statement on punishment, Skinner wrote that “punishment is usually used to the advantage of the punisher, but there are exceptions, and they are sometimes justified” (Griffin et al, 1988).
Yet, I believe that positive reinforcement is an excellent way to encourage desired/ positive behavioral reactions. According to Skinner, positive reinforcement is a superior form of modifying human behaviors compared with punishment (O’Donohue & Ferguson, 2001). That is why my utopian society will apply to positive reinforcement to promote human behaviors that are desirable and benefit the community. A utopian society based on positive reinforcement will seek to reward its members for desirable behaviors.
In positive reinforcement, the reward follows behaviors and decisions which the community considers as desirable and appropriate (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2009). Positive reinforcement will keep individuals from engaging in negative / undesirable behaviors (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2009). In my society, positive reinforcement will stimulate individuals to repeat desirable behaviors. My society will have its own constitution, which will list all desirable behaviors and the ways of rewarding community members for displaying and repeating these behaviors.
The society will not distinguish between different types of desirable behaviors and all rewards will be equal. Equal rewards are necessary to ensure that community members are equally committed to all types of desirable behaviors. For example, a society member who decides to work additional hours on Friday and a society member who decides to share his profits with a poor neighbor will receive equal rewards. According to the constitution, desirable behaviors will include work, participation in music and fine arts, charity and medical assistance, marriage, birth control, and collective childrearing.
To avoid overpopulation, my utopian society will encourage marriages and strict birth control. Every family that manages to have no more than 2 children during the first 10 years of its marriage will receive a small material compensation. The society will not reward abortions. Families that do not have children will be able to use a surrogate mother. Surrogate mothers will serve a form of reward to families that do not have a child and desire to have one.
This is the rare case where the utopian society will apply to intangible benefits to reinforce desirable behaviors in community members – surrogate mothers will be a natural reinforcement for families that do not have children but want to become parents. Children will grow in collective facilities without parents. No formal education will exist. My utopian society will make children learn from the natural environment in which they live, from their relationships with other children and the constitution. Children will return to families after they are 16 years old.
By that time, they will have to learn the basic professional skills and will become the full members of the community workforce. Children who actively engage in labor activities will receive a small material compensation. The society will reward parents who send their children to the collective facilities. The society will encourage and reward human relationships and unions that are based on mutual profits and benefit community rather than promote romance or friendship. The society will organize marriages based on reason.
The society will reward only reasonable marriages organized around a common professional or productive goal. Such families will receive a small material compensation. Agriculture and unskilled labor will shape the basis of the society’s economy. My society will not reward education and related activities. The society will reward only unskilled labor. Individuals will have to work 6 hours every day. Saturdays and Sundays will be free. Longer hours at work will be desirable, and the society will materially reward members’ participation in various labor activities.
The society will encourage its members to participate in music and fine arts. The society will stimulate individuals to avoid unhealthy and harmful behaviors. No formal criminal justice system will exist because, due to positive reinforcement, individuals will refrain from the criminal activity. Individuals that have never committed an illegal or immoral action by the time they reach their 40th birthday will receive a small material reward. The perspective of a reward will inspire individuals to avoid behaviors that can harm the society or its members. No formal authority will exist.
Because authority empowers only a small group of individuals, it may disrupt the peace and balance in the society. My utopian society will encourage self-expression and open opinions and will stimulate community members’ participation in public discussions. Participation will become a form of positive (active) reinforcement for anyone who decides to express his view. Society members will have an opportunity to test their ideas and suggestions in practice. The society will gather once a week to monitor the progress of various experiments and to judge their results.
The society will reward individual participation in experiments. The society will stimulate other members to sponsor such activities. The society will refrain from applying to punishment or negative stimuli. My utopian society will promote positive reinforcement as the basic element of modifying individual behaviors. Positive reinforcement will help the members of my utopian society to refrain from harmful or undesirable behaviors. Conclusion My utopian society will utilize positive reinforcement to stimulate desirable behaviors.
Positive reinforcement will ensure that community members display and repeat behaviors that benefit them and their community and, simultaneously, refrain from behaviors that can harm other society members. All rewards will be immediate and will follow the desirable behaviors. All rewards will be equal, regardless of the specific form of desirable behavior and the amount of effort put in it. In this way, the community will guarantee that residents are equally committed to all types of desirable behaviors listed in the community constitution.
Positive reinforcement will help the members of my utopian society to refrain from undesirable behaviors. References Griffin, J. C. , Paisey, T. J. , Stark, M. T. & Emerson, J. H. (1988). B. F. Skinner’s position on aversive treatment. AJHR, 7, 104-105. Retrieved from http://www. judgerc. org/Griffin1988SkinnerpunishmentstatementAJMR. pdf O’Donohue, W. T. & Ferguson, K. E. (2001). The psychology of B. F. Skinner. SAGE. Zastrow, C. & Kirst-Ashman, K. K. (2009). Understanding human behavior and social environment. Boston: Cengage Learning.