Sharing our Behavior Analytic History...with Coffee


By: Beth Garrison, CEO

Well, the cat is out of the box, or in this case, the baby saw the rat (psychology humor!).  Watson's Wake-Up Blend is our next released blend, on sale April 22nd!

So by now,  you may be wondering about Watson.  For that matter, why is our flagship blend called "Burrhus's Breakfast Blend?"  What are those odd definitions on our coffee bags?

This is how we are sharing our behavior analytic history with the world.

John Broadus Watson was an American psychologist who founded the branch of psychology,  "Behaviorism," through his treatise, "Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It (Watson, 1913)."  He was influenced by Pavlov and Thorndike who had come before him in their studies of behavior, however, Watson was interested in the objective measurement of behavior as a reaction or response to environmental stimuli, furthering the "S-R" theory of behavior.  He was especially interested in conditioning emotions, famous for his study "Little Albert (Watson, et. al. 1921), as well as advertising.  Interestingly enough, he even worked with Maxwell House on its first "coffee break" ad campaign, popularizing the concept in the United States (Hunt, 1993)!  Watson's Wake Up Blend pays homage to the early stages of behaviorism, by paraphrasing for the general public his early behaviorist definition: "To predict, given the stimulus, what reaction will take place; or, given the reaction, state what the situation or stimulus is that has caused the reaction (Watson, 1930)."

But did behavior science stop there?  Were we satisfied with the explanation that when we come in contact with stimuli in our environment, we react or respond to those stimuli and this is what "causes" our reaction?  No way!  Enter, Burrhus Frederic Skinner (B.F. Skinner to most).  

B.F. Skinner was the American psychologist who inspired our flagship, "Burrhus Breakfast Blend," and defined "positive reinforcement (definition on label) through his discussion on operant conditioning (Skinner, 1938), and also the inspiration for our company name.  It was Skinner, in 1938, who wrote in his book The Behavior of Organisms "the response must operate upon the environment to produce a reinforcement."  If something is added to the envionment to increase responding, the reinforcement process is said to be positive.  Skinner furthered S-R learning theory to include an important part of behavior analysis: the consequence--and thus operant conditioning was born (not to mention as well, many decades later, Burrhus's Breakfast Blend).

For more information on behavior science and B.F. Skinner: check out the B.F. Skinner Foundation!



Watson, J. B. (1913). "Psychology as the Behaviorist Views it". Psychological Review20: 158–177

Watson, John B.; Rayner Watson, Rosalie (1921). "Studies in Infant Psychology". The Scientific Monthly13 (6): 493–515

Hunt, Morton M. (1993). The story of psychology (1st ed.). New York: Doubleday. p. 260

Watson, J.B. (1930). Behaviorism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

B.F. Skinner (1938). The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis. Cambridge, Massachusetts: B.F. Skinner Foundation p 22