Description of Skinner's Walden Two - Essay Sample

Published: 2021-08-18
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George Washington University
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The novel Walden Two by B.F. Skinner is about a community of about one thousand people who live in harmony and plenty through practicing behavioral engineering. The name of the community is Walden Two. Two world war veterans named Steve and Rodge, approach a professor of psychology named Dr. Burris expressing interest in a former colleague of Dr. Burris named Frazier. The two World War II veterans have become interested in utopianism and have heard about Fraziers Walden Two community. Dr. Burris gets into contact with Frazier who invites all of them for a visit to spend several days in the community to see how life is inside the community. Rodge and Steve invite their girlfriends for the trip, and Dr. Burris invites a colleague named Dr. Castle who is a professor of philosophy. Frazier takes the six visitors on a four day trip through the community and explains the changes he made that make the place different from mainstream society.

Frazier made changes such as restructuring labor and consumption thereby reducing a person's work day to a mere four hours. He introduced group care for children in cooperating scientific methods in raising the children who are not only independent but also self-controlled. Parents and other adults who do not have children act as role models to the other children. Marriages last long and there are very few divorces which happen quietly and without acrimony. New kinds of the personal initiative have done away with bad professional behavior such as jealousy; power lays favoritism and elitism (Day, 1999). Everyone in the community places the community ahead of the self.


As Frazier takes the six visitors on a tour of Walden Two, two plots emerge. The first is the journey towards the conversion of Dr. Burris, Steve, Rodge and their girlfriends Mary and Barbara. The second plot is the intellectual debates between Dr. Burris, Dr. Castel, and Frazier. Dr. Castle, bring a professor in philosophy, is still stuck on the idea that free will exists. The primary intellectual battles are between Dr. Castle and Frazier with Dr. Burris being an open-minded and curious spectator (White, 1991). These plots bring out specific essential themes. The most important ones are justice, change and the influence of external factors on human behavior.


The society in Walden Two is based on a system of justice. No one is above another individual for whatever reason. Every individuals contribution to the community is equal through a system of labor credits whose goal is to create justice. Frazier notes that concentration of wealth to only a few people renders the rest of the people poor and when fame is for a few people the rest of the people are presumed insignificant. Frazier uses scientific methods to fix these imbalances in the society.


Practices and rules that govern the society should not be permanent. They are not set in stone. Everything that is done can and should be changed for the better. In the book, Frazier states that in Walden Two, everything is open to change provided that there is experimental evidence supporting the necessity of said change. Dr. Castle represents those people in the society who despise change and want to hold on to their backward beliefs.

Influence of External Factors on Human Behavior

Skinner seeks to show that external factors influence human behavior and that the concept of freedom or free will is imaginary (White, 1991). For society to flourish and have happier, more productive people, it must control these forces that control human behavior. This is what Frazier has done with the society in Walden Two.


Day. S. (1999). Walden Two at Fifty. Michigan Quarterly Review. Volume 38 (Issue 2).

White. I. T. (1991). Discovering Philosophy. New Jersey, United States: Prentice Hall.


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