Ferster, Charles B., 1922-....

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Ph. D. Columbia, 1950. A pioneer in behavior modification theory, he established the Journal of the experimental analysis of behavior, and co-authored with B. F. Skinner the book Schedules of reinforcement. He died February 1981.

From the description of Papers, 1953-1980. (American University). WorldCat record id: 426150659

Charles B. Ferster was born in Freehold, NJ on November 1, 1922. He entered Rutgers University in 1940, but interrupted his education to serve in WWII from 1943 to 1946. He eventually earned a bachelor's degree in 1947. Ferster enrolled in graduate school at Columbia University, where he studied under Keller (author of Principles of Psychology). He earned his doctorate after only three years, in 1950.

Ferster spent the next five years as a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard, where he worked in B. F. Skinner's pigeon laboratory. From 1955 to 1957, he worked with chimpanzees at the Yerkes Laboratory of Primate Biology in Orange Park, FL. Next, from 1957 until 1962, he studied autistic children at the Institute of Psychiatric Research, Indiana University School of Medicine. His work here was one of the first applications of the token economy.

Ferster's next position, from 1962 to 1968, was at the Institute for Behavioral Research in Silver Spring, MD. Here, Ferster studied the use of behaviorism to treat self-defeating behaviors such as smoking and overeating, and depression. Following this, he took appointments at Georgetown University (1967 - 1969) and American University (1969 until his death), where he taught psychology and continued his behavioral research program.

Ferster was a major figure in behaviorism. In 1958, he founded the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, and served as its first editor. He died from a heart attack on February 3, 1981 at the age of 58.

From the guide to the Charles B. Ferster papers, 1955-1966, (Center for the History of Psychology)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Ferster, Charles B., 1922-. Papers, 1953-1980. American University, American University Library; Bender Library
creatorOf Charles B. Ferster papers, 1955-1966 Center for the History of Psychology
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associatedWith American University (Washington, D.C.). Dept. of Psychology corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Behaviorism (Psychology)
Psychologists--United States
Psychology--History--20th century
Social psychology


Birth 1922

Death 1981


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