What is One Book about Behavior Analysis Every High School Student Should Read?

Behavior analysis isn’t often taught in high schools but what if we could assign one book about behavior analysis to all high school students? High school is the time that many students are deciding what it is they will do or study following graduation. Many are introduced to Psychology more generally but few learn about Behavior Analysis in their formal instruction. Would more high school students choose to study behavior analysis if a behavior analysis text was included in their curriculum?

The New York Times recently posed the following question to its readers – “If you could add one book to the high school curriculum, what would it be?” Several behavior analysts have surveyed various members of our community to determine essential readings for university-level behavior analysis students.

For example, Saville, Beal, and Buskist (2002) surveyed the members of the editorial boards for the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (JEAB) and the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA) to identify a list of “essential readings for students in behavior analysis” (p 29). Seventy-five percent of JEAB and seventy-five percent of JABA editorial board members noted that Skinner’s (1953) Science and Human Behavior is an essential reading for behavior analysts.

More recently Frider, Zayac, Ratkos, Donahue, Ware, and Paulk (2018) surveyed behavior analytic faculty and practitioners to find out what they thought the essential readings are for undergraduate students in behavior analysis. This time, Cooper, Heron, and Heward (2007) came up as the number one book identified by 50.7% of respondents and Skinner’s (1953) Science and Human Behavior came up 3rd with only 24.7% of respondents identifying it as an essential book for undergraduates.

Both papers (Frider, et al., 2018 and Saville et al., 2002) also specify a number of journal articles that their respondents identified as essential for their audience (see also Pastrana, Frewing, Grow, Nosik, Turner, & Carr, 2016 for a summary of the most frequently assigned readings in a sampling of graduate training programs for behavior analysts).

If you could add one book about behavior analysis to the high school curriculum, what would it be? Would it overlap with what some researchers have reported as essential readings for university-level students in behavior analysis or would you choose something else?