TITLE: The Marvelous Learning Animal
SPECIAL GUEST: Dr. Arthur W. Staats
What makes us human? In recent decades, researchers have focused on innate tendencies and inherited traits as explanations for human behavior, especially in light of human genome research. Renowned psychologist Arthur W. Staats thinks this trend is misleading. As he shows in great detail in this engaging, highly informative book, what makes our species unique is our marvelous ability to learn, an ability that no other primate possesses. Staats argues that the immensity of human learning has not been understood.
The author notes that evolution has endowed us with extremely versatile bodies and a brain of one hundred billion neurons, making us especially suited for a wide range of sophisticated learning. Already in childhood, human beings begin learning complex repertoires—language, sports, value systems, music, science, rules of behavior, and many other aspects of culture. These repertoires build on one another in special ways, and our brains develop in response to the learning experiences we receive from those around us and from what we read and hear and see. When humans gather in society, the cumulative effect of building learning upon learning is enormous.
Staats presents a new way of understanding humanness—in human evolution, in the behavioral nature of the human body, in child development, in personality, and in abnormal behavior—a unified conception that provides new ways of solving human problems and lays the foundations for new areas of science.
ABOUT DR. ARTHUR STAATS
In graduate school at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Dr. Arthur Staats wide interests., combined with his drive for analysis in terms of basic principles, led him to complete the requirements for a PhD in clinical psychology while taking his degree in General-Experimental Psychology. With his objective view of human behavior, he saw deep and widespread weaknesses also, including behaviorism’s focus on animal research, its rejection of traditional psychology, and its divisive internecine rivalry. The approach he constructed was a behaviorism, but not an ordinary behaviorism. It became “psychologized” because it incorporated essential elements of psychology, but it “behaviorized” those elements, so it remained a consistent, unified approach, later called psychological behaviorism.
His recent publications include
- Behavior and Personality: Psychological Behaviorism,
- “A psychyological behaviorism theory of personality: A framework for the 21st century“
- “Psychological behaviorism and behaviorizing psychology,” The Behavior Analyst and
- His latest book, The Marvelous Learning Animal