The Behavior Analyst

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 167–175 | Cite as

Discriminating Utopian from Dystopian Literature: Why is Walden Two Considered a Dystopia?

  • Bobby Newman


Skinner thought of Waiden Two as a Utopia, but many literary critics consider it a dystopia. The present paper examines works by several authors of Utopian literature in an effort to determine what elements lead critics to classify works as “dystopian.” Common elements seem to include (a) suspicion of scientific social planning, (b) the unhappiness of the characters portrayed, (c) suspicion of sources of control of behavior outside the individual, (d) violation of a presumed inherent need to struggle, and (e) suspicion of behavioral methods of governance. The elements Waiden Two shares with other Utopias and dystopias are examined, and the conclusion is offered that Waiden Two could not be considered a dystopia for any of the traditional reasons. Instead, the negative view of Waiden Two seems to be an outgrowth of literary devices and general negative reactions to behavioral determinism.


B. F. Skinner Waiden Two Utopia dystopia 


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bobby Newman
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Psychology Department, Queens College and the Graduate CenterCUNYFlushingUSA
  2. 2.Queens Services for Autistic Citizens, Inc.Saint AlbansUSA

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