The Science of Consequences

How They Affect Genes, Change the Brain, and Impact Our World

Susan M. Schneider, Ph.D.

Placeholder Picture

A scientific generalist with a broad perspective, behavioral and biopsychologist Susan Schneider obtained her graduate education from Brown University (mechanical engineering) and the University of Kansas (psychology), and her multifaceted career includes a stint in the Peace Corps. She taught the science of consequences to Ph.D. students at Auburn University, and at Florida International University, she was the Associate Director of the Developmental Psychobiology laboratory. She has published numerous research and theoretical articles and book chapters, including pioneering studies on generalization and choice. She's taught over a dozen different psychology courses, including cognitive psychology, social psychology, comparative psychology, statistics, research methods, and history of psychology. And, of course, on learning principles and behavior analysis.  She has focused recently on sustainability and climate change, and has publications in that area.

Schneider is currently a faculty member at Western Michigan University and a Senior Scientist for the nonprofit Root Solutions, which focuses on behavior and sustainability. The Science of Consequences is her first book.

* Over twenty-five years of research and scholarship in the science of consequences (technically, "operant learning") and nature-nurture relations.  Currently fighting the climate crisis, both professionally and as a long-time community environmental leader.

* Has long championed the inclusive "systems theory" approach to nature-nurture relations, culminating in several influential scientific review articles. 

* Published in journals as varied as American Psychologist, International Journal of Comparative Psychology, Developmental Psychobiology, Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, Behavioural Processes, Journal of Environmental Psychology, European Journal of Developmental Science, Analysis of Verbal Behavior, Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, and The Behavior Analyst/Perspectives on Behavior Science.   Recently published an article on learning principles and climate change in Energy Research and Social Science.  Coauthored two chapters in the new guidebook Making Shift Happen:  Designing for Successful Environmental Behavior Change.

* Over 150 scientific presentations, including many keynote and invited addresses at conferences and universities across the United States and internationally.   Recently spoke (virtually) for Brazilian conference and Italian conferences.

* Has been a member of the American Psychological Association, Association for Behavior Analysis, Comparative Cognition Society, International Society for Developmental Psychobiology, and Society for the Quantitative Analyses of Behavior.

* Has served as a reviewer or editorial board member for many scientific journals, including American Psychologist, Animal Cognition, Behavioural Brain Research, Developmental Science, Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Behavior Analysis in Practice, Behavior and Social Issues, and The Behavior Analyst/Perspectives on Behavior Science.

Schneider is an experienced environmental leader and naturalist who leads field trips and conducts scientific bird surveys.  She enthusiastically gardens with native and waterwise plants.  In California, she co-founded her local climate action coalition.


scienceofconsequences at
- or find me on Facebook!

Placeholder Picture

Reflections on B. F. Skinner
Winner, National Medal of Science

B. F. Skinner was the Harvard psychologist whose pioneering work decades ago did the most to establish the science of consequences. I was very fortunate that Skinner and I became friends during the last 15 years of his life. Here's a link to an interview conducted by Dr. Sophia Yin on how this came about: Link to interview

In the interview, I also discuss Skinner as the sage of positive reinforcement.  (In one of his letters to me, he mentioned his support for a bill abolishing corporal punishment in California schools.)  In the interview, I also summarize his views on the flexibility in nature-nurture relations, based on our conversations and my reading of Skinner's many books and articles.

Skinner and I discussed psychology, philosophy, biology, science in general, literature, music, education, environmental and social justice issues, politics, and the future (which he worried about). He also took an interest in my career.  After I  joined the Peace Corps as an engineer, he sent a handwritten note wishing me "Bon Voyage," and saying how proud he was of me.  But naturally, he was very pleased when I eventually switched to behavioral psychology (also called behavior analysis).

A brief anecdote: When I became an engineering graduate student at Brown, I was close enough to visit Skinner at Harvard. I had misunderstood his instructions about chatting over lunch, and brought a bag lunch, so we simply shared it!

© 2012-2024 Susan M. Schneider