Behaviorism and Social Conditioning

Marketers seek to plant in you feelings of fear, lust, hate. The most effective reinforcements match your own prejudices and anxieties. You won’t even realize that the cues you’re responding to are originating from outside yourself.

Table of Contents

When some people hear behaviorism they immediately think of Pavlov and his work with slavering dogs. If they remember anything from their college psychology class, they may think stimulus-response or even operant conditioning. All this is well and good. But it can serve to place behaviorism in the realm of theory and experiment, and ignore the impact of the behaviorist worldview and its social applications happening all around you.

Skinner Box Skinner Box designed by behavioral scientist B.F. Skinner. He is said to have kept his daughter Deborah in one for hours every day until she was 3 years old.

Controllers plant feelings of hate, fear, and judgment into you. Once in place you are easily led.

Formal definitions

A behaviorist believes that people can be conditioned to act in desired ways and to stop acting in other ways through the use of a scientific and reproducible techniques. Reinforcement is anything which trains the person to act in the desired way. A positive reinforcement is an addition of something. It could be a monetary reward, a free or discounted product, or anything that the person wants. A negative reinforcement is the removal of something the person doesn’t want when they act in the way the handler desires. For example, the harassing calls at 3am stop when the person resumes payments on the overdue student loan.

Punishment is used to decrease a particular action. Some kind of pain is delivered every time the person acts in a way the behaviorist doesn’t like. Eventually the person associates the discomfort with the action, and therefore thinks twice before doing it again. Punishments are ramped up until they become effective.

Extinction is the taking away of something the person likes, wants or needs to encourage the stopping of a particular action.

innocent baby

Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select—doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. -John Broadus Watson, Behaviorism

See School makes stupid.

Mental conditioning or message management

Now that you’ve heard the formal definitions, it’s time to forget them. To see behaviorism in action, you just have to look around. In the years since WWII, public relations, marketing, government and the military have brought behavioral techniques to a high level of effectiveness. Strengthened by the consolidation of media channels and the prevalence of social media and smartphone devices, desired messages and techniques are continually being delivered, analyzed, tested and refined.

One of the latest techniques is something called the power of the nudge.1 The US government is looking into implementing this. The nudge is particularly good when what you want people to do is slightly unpleasant. Make what you want them to do the default. To get around it - to opt out - requires some amount of work. It’s said to be wonderfully effective at getting people to do the right thing.

Your corporate masters command: Shop! Hate! Fear!

Controllers seek to plant strong feelings of fear, lust, hate and self-righteous judgment into you. Once in place and no longer questioned, you are easily led. The most effective reinforcements closely match your own natural prejudices and anxieties. When done well, the mark (you) don’t even realize that the cues you’re responding to are originating from outside yourself.


Those who would seek to recreate the world consider themselves above traditional morality. Thou shalt not bear false witness means nothing to them. Their guide is rather the end justifies the means. And so news and information have nothing to do with truth or lies, but are rather seen and used as delivery mechanisms to influence human chattel towards desired ends.

Different stories - one goal

Power is said to be the most seductive of temptations. The highest lust of the power-mad is world empire. One of the best ways to topple any who would threaten desired consolidation is divide and conquer.

Since the truth is not a concern, it only makes sense to create alternative versions of events tailored to separate audiences. When done well both sides are convinced the other is doctoring the truth. By careful direction, a whole society is steadily shunted back and forth. Few notice the steady progression in the ultimate direction the owners have chosen.

Both sides of every major issue have been decided in a conference room. Nothing in current events is left to chance.

Willingness to conform

Convenience = control

It’s tempting to place the blame out there at the feet of evil men. Truly they will bear their condemnation. But they succeed only because many people will not accept unhappy realities. A refusal to face the endemic nature of behaviorist manipulations in modern life is an indication of a willingness to be enslaved. Christians especially should remember the warnings given by our Lord:

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. -Romans 12.2

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. -James 4.4

  1. See Nudge by Thaler and Sunstein. ↩︎

Alec Satin
Alec Satin

Your editor is a Bible-believing Christian with no illusions about our darkening age. Keep reading your KJV. If you don’t have one, get a printed copy with good type and read it every day. May God bless you, keep you, and protect you.