Behavior Analysis and Learning: Fifth Edition, 5th Edition (Hardback) book cover

Behavior Analysis and Learning

Fifth Edition

By W. David Pierce, Carl D. Cheney

© 2013 – Psychology Press

590 pages

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Hardback: 9781848726154
pub: 2013-03-18
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About the Book

Behavior Analysis and Learning, Fifth Edition is an essential textbook covering the basic principles in the field of behavior analysis and learned behaviors, as pioneered by B. F. Skinner. The textbook provides an advanced introduction to operant conditioning from a very consistent Skinnerian perspective. It covers a range of principles from basic respondent and operant conditioning through applied behavior analysis into cultural design. Elaborating on Darwinian components and biological connections with behavior, the book treats the topic from a consistent worldview of selectionism. The functional relations between the organism and the environment are described, and their application in accounting for old behavior and generating new behavior is illustrated.

Expanding on concepts of past editions, the fifth edition provides updated coverage of recent literature and the latest findings. There is increased inclusion of biological and neuroscience material, as well as more data correlating behavior with neurological and genetic factors. The chapter on verbal behavior is expanded to include new research on stimulus equivalence and naming; there is also a more detailed and updated analysis of learning by imitation and its possible links to mirror neurons. In the chapter on applied behavior analysis (ABA), new emphasis is given to contingency management of addiction, applications to education, ABA and autism, and prevention and treatment of health-related problems.

The material presented in this book provides the reader with the best available foundation in behavior science and is a valuable resource for advanced undergraduate and graduate students in psychology or other behavior-based disciplines. In addition, a website of supplemental resources for instructors and students makes this new edition even more accessible and student-friendly (


"A superb and amazingly up-to-date textbook designed to enhance student learning. It shows impressive scholarship in both depth and breadth of coverage of important topics in the analysis of behavior, their link to neuroscience, and compelling application to everyday life."

-Geoffrey White, Ph.D., University of Otago, New Zealand

"The fifth edition of Behavior Analysis and Learning clearly identifies learning as a natural science process and places behavior analysis at the center of learning research and theory. The depth and scope of the latest edition of Behavior Analysis and Learning makes it a highly versatile text that can fulfill various goals of undergraduate and graduate program."

-Matthew T. Weaver, Mercyhurst University

"This well-organized and readable textbook is an excellent survey of the major features of behavior analysis. It introduces students to the fundamentals of the science and conveys how these relate to current research, to applications in a variety of areas and to the relation of behavior analysis to the adjacent domains of biology and culture. The integration of basic, applied and conceptual topics is a great way to introduce students to the breadth of behavior analysis."

-Sigrid Glenn, Ph.D., University of North Texas

"Any book that reaches the status of fifth edition is, almost by definition, a classic. Behavior Analysis and Learning certainly fits that description. It updates and extends the subject matter of its previous edition while retaining all of the attractive pedagogical features that characterize the series. I can think of no better use of this text than as a foundation in the various programs that prepare students for recognition as Board Certified Behavior Analysts."

-Henry S. Pennypacker, Ph.D., University of Florida

"Pierce and Cheney present the basic science of behavior in a clear manner supported by relevant applied examples from recent and seminal research. Topics are in depth with excellent visual exemplifications throughout each chapter. This book is a valuable resource for both undergraduate and graduate students."

-Andrew Gardner, Ph.D., Northern Arizona University

Table of Contents

A Science of Behavior: Perspective, History, and Assumptions. The Experimental Analysis of Behavior. Reflexive Behavior and Respondent Conditioning. Reinforcement and Extinction of Operant Behavior. Schedules of Reinforcement. Aversive Control of Behavior. Operant-Respondent Interrelationships and the Biological Context of Conditioning. Stimulus Control. Choice and Preference. Conditioned Reinforcement. Correspondent Relations: Imitation and Rule-Governed Behavior. Verbal Behavior. Applied Behavior Analysis. Three Levels of Selection: Biology, Behavior, and Culture.

About the Authors

W. David Pierce is Professor, Emeritus, of Sociology at the University of Alberta, Canada. His main research concerns a biobehavioral analysis of activity anorexia, taste regulation of overeating, and exercise-induced taste aversion.

Carl D. Cheney is Professor, Emeritus, of Psychology at Utah State University, USA. He teaches behavior analysis and physiological psychology, and has published widely in the experimental analysis of behavior. His current research is focused on the management of diet selection in a variety of species.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Applied Psychology


This revised and updated edition covers the basic principles in the field of behavior analysis and learned behaviors as pioneered by B. F. Skinner to prepare readers to analyze troubling situations, compose behavioral solutions and apply principles effectively.The authors use behavior principles to analyze and interpret human behavior in everyday settings, with examples that are familiar and relatable to students. p.111 uses examples of the treatment of drug addiction and the problem of obesity to illustrate reinstatement of responding.

To provide students with an overview of the most important growing areas of research in the field, this book covers both behavioral neuroscience and evolution and behavior. For example, see p.6-8. A rich body of pedagogical features allows instructors to build a thorough and engaging course, while students find studying an easier and more accessible activity. Each chapter includes a summary, list of key words, URLs to additional online resources and more as seen on p.218-220.

To introduce students to universal behavioral principles that they can apply to any population or species, the authors discuss the continuity of these principles across the spectrum of animal species with the supporting research examples. See p.326-327.

This book maintains a consistent scientific orientation to the analysis and application of the principles of behavior-environment relations, including coverage of today’s hot-button issues. Evaluating and studying behavior analysis as an empirically-based natural science affords students valuable insight on why it is problematic to rely on non-scientific approaches and builds a foundation of critical thinking skills. See the call-out box on p.421  for a discussion of Autism, Mirror Neurons, and Applied Behavior Analysis.