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Inside the Box: An Interview with Dr. Jack Michael

2 hours, 30 minutes
2.5 BACB
Tate McGhee, MS, BCBA

“Behavior analysis is becoming better known and more widely used. I think what is happening with behavior analysis already is that it is going away, that it is becoming well known, so it is no longer special. What’s happening is the field is becoming, in no sense, satiated, but [other fields] are becoming behavioral without it being anything special. They’re doing good work, but they don’t think of doing anything behavioral; it’s just the way you do it. In that sense, behavior analysis will lose acknowledgment of being special. Some people might look at that as a loss, but I see it as nothing, just having everyone doing it.”

Dr. Jack Michael


Released in 2009, in a historically significant interview with Dr. Jack Michael, conducted by Tate McGhee, Dr. Michael recounts his time before behavior analysis as both a student and a soldier, then explains the chance events that moved him into the field of behavior analysis. He answers questions regarding Radical Behaviorism, B.F. Skinner and provides his thoughts on Science and Human Behavior. Dr. Michael discusses his and his students’ research while also diving into where he believes the field of behavior analysis is going. 

Learning Objectives

What you’ll learn in the course and be able to do afterward

  1. From hearing the recounting of Dr. Michael’s history, you should be able to
    • identify the chance events affecting Dr. Michael’s choice of vocation, discuss the specific influence that led Dr. Michael toward Skinnerian thinking, and understand his response to Skinner’s evaluation of private events;
    • list Dr. Michael’s four ways to learn private events;
    • identify the challenges from Professor Myeroson that Dr. Michael faced for his choice of behaviorism;
    • compare Dr. Michael’s ideas on the future of behavior analysis to where the field of behavior analysis is now;
    • list and describe two significant events in behavior analysis from the last 35-40 years.
  2. From in-depth discussion on research, assessments, and clinical applications of psychology and behavior analysis, you will learn
    • the approach of cognitive psychology versus behavioral psychology on increasing exercise in stroke victims;
    • discuss the nursery school coloring challenge and the outcome;
    • explain the selection of problem behaviors at the Saskatchewan State Psychiatric Hospital and the ethical implications from the outcomes;
    • the importance of the publication of The Psychiatric Nurse as a Behavioral Engineer from JAEB, 1959.


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