97 439 1 PB 2

Topics: Experimental analysis of behavior, Applied behavior analysis, Walden Two Pages: 7 (3892 words) Published: November 12, 2014
Social Sciences Directory
Vol. 2, No. 4, 2-8, October 2013

Proceedings of the 11 conference of the International Communal Studies Association

Revisiting Walden Two: sustainability from a
natural science perspective
Deborah Altus *
Washburn University, USA 1
Video of conference presentation: Not available
In his 1948 novel, Walden Two, B F Skinner proposed using principles and methods of natural science as a means to design a healthy society that was not only satisfying and meaningful to its residents but also socially and environmentally sustainable. A number of intentional communities were inspired by Skinner’s ideas, perhaps the most well-known of which is Twin Oaks, located near Louisa, Viginia, USA. Few Walden Two-inspired communities, however, maintained a focus on behavioural science for long, possibly because they misinterpreted Walden Two as a blueprint for a community rather than a call to use natural-science methods. Comunidad Los Horcones, near Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, is one group that has maintained its focus on natural science methods since its inception in 1973. Another group that used a science-based focus for several decades is Sunflower House, a Walden-Two inspired student housing cooperative in Lawrence, KS, USA. This paper will review the results of research conducted by the experimental living project at Sunflower House to see what lessons can be gleaned about designing sustainable social systems. B. F. Skinner was one of the most eminent psychologists, if not one of the most eminent th

scientists, of the 20 century (Haggbloom, et al., 2002; Rutherford, 2009). Through his laboratory research, he established a science of behavior – the experimental analysis of behavior – and its corresponding philosophy, radical behaviorism (see Morris, Smith & Altus, 2005), although he was perhaps best known for, and also vilified for, his popular writings, including Walden Two (1948) and Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971). Skinner originally wrote his utopian novel, Walden Two, in 1945, as The Sun is But a Morning Star – the title taken from the conclusion of Thoreau’s Walden (1854). In his 1979 autobiography, he indicated that the inspiration for writing the book came from a dinner party where he discussed what soldiers would do when they returned home from serving in World War II: He worried “…that they would abandon their crusading spirit and come back only to fall into the old lockstep American life – getting a job, marrying, renting an apartment, making a down payment on a car, having a child or two” (Skinner, 1979, p. 292). 1

The author would like to thank Edward K. Morris and L. Keith Miller of the University of Kansas, and Tom Welsh, Florida State University, for their collaboration on previous projects that inspired and influenced this paper.

* deborah.altus@washburn.edu
ISSN 2049-6869

Revisiting Walden Two 3

Instead, he felt that “they should experiment; they should explore new ways of living, as th
people had done in the communities of the 19 century” (p. 292). His dinner companion encouraged him to write down his ideas, and, so, Skinner set out in the same year to record on paper what it might look like to experiment with new ways of living. The subsequent book, Walden Two, was published three years later in 1948.

Skinner was not ignorant of the utopian movements and intentional communities of the past. In his 1979 autobiography (p. 292), he noted that he had grown up near the spot where Joseph Smith had dictated the Book of Mormon, had read about the Shakers and other perfectionist sects, and had gone to college near the site of the Oneida Community. He thought that most of the communities of the nineteenth century had come to an end for irrelevant reasons and he felt that young people in the post-war era might have better luck. He believed that “they could build a culture that would come closer to satisfying human needs...

References: Altus, D. (1998). Roger Ulrich & Lake Village Community. Communities, Journal of Cooperative Living, 98, 52-54.
Altus, D. (1999). Growing up at Los Horcones: Deborah Altus interviews Juan Robinson-Bustamente. Communities,
Journal of Cooperative Living, 103, 53-57.
Altus, D. & Morris, E. K. (2008). Walden Two et B. F. Skinner: Une approche naturaliste et scientifique de l’utopie.
Altus, D. E., & Morris, E. K. (2009). B. F. Skinner’s utopian vision: Behind and beyond Walden Two. The Behavior
Analyst, 32, 319-335.
Altus, D. E., Welsh, T. M., & Miller, L. K. (1991). A technology for program maintenance: Programming key
researcher behaviors in a student housing cooperative
Altus, D. E., Welsh, T. M., Miller, L. K., & Merrill, M. H. (1993). Efficacy and maintenance of an education program for
a consumer cooperative
Barron, L., & Gauntlett, E. (2002). Model of social sustainability, Stage 1 report, Housing and Sustainable
Communities Indicators Project
Butcher, A. (2013). Kat Kinkade as egalitarian Sibyl. Retrieved June 10, 2013, from
Chance, P. (1999). Science of Behavior, Sí! Communities, Journal of Cooperative Living, 103, 29-34.
Comunidad Los Horcones. (1986). News for now-here, 1986: A response to “News from Nowhere, 1984.” The
Behavior Analyst, 9, 129-132.
Comunidad Los Horcones. (2002). Western cultural influences in behavior analysis as seen from a Walden Two.
Feallock, R., & Miller, L. K. (1976). The design and evaluation of a worksharing system for experimental group living.
Fellowship for Intentional Community. (2008). Sunflower House. In Communities Directory. Retrieved June 5,
2013, from http://directory.ic.org.
Fellowship for Intentional Community. (2012a). Comunidad Los Horcones. In Communities Directory. Retrieved
June 5, 2013, from http://directory.ic.org.
Fellowship for Intentional Community. (2012b). Lake Village Homestead Farm. In Communities Directory.
Retrieved June 5, 2013, from http://directory.ic.org.
Haggbloom, S. J., et al. (2002). The 100 Most Eminent Psychologists of the 20th Century. Review of General
Psychology, 6, 139-152.
Johnson, S. P., Welsh, T. M., Miller, L. K., & Altus, D. E. (1991). Participatory management: Maintaining staff
performance in a university housing cooperative
Kinkade, K. (1973). A Walden Two experiment. New York: Quill.
Kinkade, K. (1994). Is it Utopia yet? Louisa, VA: Twin Oaks.
Kinkade, K. (1999). But can he design community? Communities, Journal of Cooperative Living, 103, 49-52.
Kuhlmann, H. (2005). Living Walden Two: B. F. Skinner’s behaviorist utopia and experimental communities.
Magis, K., & Shinn, C. (2009). Emergent principles of social sustainability. In In J. Dillard, V. Dujon, & M. C. King
(Eds.), Understanding the social dimension of sustainability (pp
Merrill, M. H. (1984). Program change : A technology for consumer initiated and implemented change of a
behavioral program
Miller, L. K., & Feallock, R. A. (1975). A behavioral system for group living. In E. Ramp & G. Semb (Eds.), Behavior
analysis: Areas of research and application (pp
Miller, L. K., Welsh, T. W., Altus, D. E., & Zwicker, T. (2006, May). A 37-year Case Study in the Design and Analysis
of a Program That Survives Post-research
Morris, E. K., Smith, N. G., & Altus, D. E. (2005). B. F. Skinner’s Contributions to Applied Behavior Analysis. The
Behavior Analyst, 28, 99-131.
Renwick, V. (2009). Kathleen Kinkade. The Behavior Analyst, 32, 337
Rutherford, A
Skinner, B. F. (1938). The Behavior of Organisms. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Skinner, B. F. (1948). Walden Two. New York: Macmillan.
Skinner, B. F. (1971). Beyond freedom and dignity. New York: Knopf.
Skinner, B. F. (1973c). Walden (one) and Walden two. The Thoreau Society Bulletin, 122, 1–3.
Skinner, B. F. (1976). Preface. Walden two (pp. v–xvi). New York: Macmillan.
Skinner, B. F. (1979). The shaping of a behaviorist. New York: Knopf.
Thoreau, H. D. (1854). Walden. Boston, MA: Ticknor and Fields.
Welsh, T. M., Johnson, S. P., Miller, L. K., Merrill, M. H., & Altus, D. E. (1989). A practical procedure for training
meeting chairpersons
Welsh, T. M., Miller, L. K., & Altus, D. E. (1994). Programming for survival: A meeting system surviving 8 years later.
Wolf, M. M. (1978). Social validity: The case for subjective measurement or how applied behavior analysis is
finding its heart
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Essay on ERR 1&2
  • Essay on EBT 1 Task 2
  • CU678 Units 1&2 Essay
  • Essay on EGT 1 Task 2
  • Week 1 2 Disappearing Languages Essay
  • 1 2 Essay
  • Essay about 2 1
  • Essay about Resume201404011104 1 1 2

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free