The Psychological Record

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 469–478 | Cite as

Hyperselectionism and Hyperbehaviorism are Unstable Strategies

  • Kevin J. Tierney


A. R. Wallace, the co-founder of the theory of natural selection, ultimately concluded that human intellect and moral reasoning could not be attributed to selective pressures. In place of natural selection he proposed divine intervention as the cause of those attributes that are uniquely human. Gould (1980) argued that this revision can be attributed to the extreme selectionist views held by Wallace, views that were at variance with Darwin’s more pluralistic theorizing. Wallace’s hyperselectionism became unsustainable when faced with the complexity of the human organism. It is argued that the recent growth in popularity of cognitive behavior therapy may be attributed to simplistic views of behaviorism. Like Wallace’s selectionism, these views became unsustainable when faced with aspects of human behavior. This argument is developed by an analysis of M. J. Mahoney’s behaviorism and his ultimate rejection of what he called unidirectional determinism. It is argued that there is a need to promote a more sophisticated account of applied behavioral analysis than that which currently obtains in psychology textbooks.


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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin J. Tierney
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Ulster at JordanstownNewtownabbey, Co AntrimNorthern Ireland

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