John E. R. Staddon

John E. R. Staddon

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Neuroscience

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Harvard University 1964

  • B.S., University College London (United Kingdom) 1960


Until my retirement in 2007, my laboratory did experimental research on learning and adaptive behavior, mostly with animals: pigeons, rats, fish, parakeets.  We were particularly interested in timing and memory, feeding regulation, habituation and the ways in which pigeons and rats adapt to reward schedules. The aim  is to arrive at simple models for learning that can help to identify the underlying neural mechanisms. I continue to do theoretical and historical work on the power law in psychophysics, operant learning, timing and memory, habituation and feeding regulation.  I have applied some of these ideas to economics and financial markets and social issues such as traffic control (Distracting Miss Daisy, The Atlantic, 2008; Death by Stop Sign) and smoking (Unlucky Strike, Private Health and the Science, Law and Politics of Smoking, with David Hockney, UBP, 2013).  A second edition of Adaptive Behavior and Learning (Cambridge UP) was published in 2016. Most recently I have published Scientific Method: How Science Works, Fails to Work, and Pretends to Work. published by Routledge in December, 2017.

Staddon, J. “Variation and Diversity: A Tribute to Freeman Dyson.” Academic Questions, vol. 33, no. 3, Sept. 2020, pp. 436–47. Scopus, doi:10.1007/s12129-020-09892-9. Full Text Open Access Copy

Staddon, J., and P. Morcombe. “The Case for Carbon Dioxide.” Academic Questions, vol. 33, no. 2, June 2020, pp. 246–58. Scopus, doi:10.1007/s12129-020-09871-0. Full Text Open Access Copy

Staddon, J. E. R. “The dynamics of behavior: Review of Sutton and Barto: Reinforcement Learning : An Introduction (2 nd ed.).” Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, vol. 113, no. 2, Wiley, Mar. 2020, pp. 485–91. Crossref, doi:10.1002/jeab.587. Full Text Open Access Copy

Staddon, J. “Facts vs. Passion: The Debate over Science-Based Regulation.” Academic Questions, vol. 33, no. 1, Mar. 2020, pp. 101–10. Scopus, doi:10.1007/s12129-019-09861-x. Full Text Open Access Copy

Staddon, J. “College Admissions Ride the Equality Roundabout.” Academic Questions, vol. 32, no. 4, Dec. 2019, pp. 487–96. Scopus, doi:10.1007/s12129-019-09831-3. Full Text Open Access Copy

Staddon, John. “Object of Inquiry: Psychology’s Other (Non-replication) Problem.” Academic Questions, vol. 32, no. 2, Springer Science and Business Media LLC, June 2019, pp. 246–56. Crossref, doi:10.1007/s12129-019-09778-5. Full Text Open Access Copy

Staddon, J. “What's in the journals?Economist (United Kingdom), vol. 414, no. 9096, July 2018. Open Access Copy

Staddon, J. E. R. “Simply Too Many Notes.The Behavior Analyst, vol. 40, no. 1, June 2017, pp. 101–06. Epmc, doi:10.1007/s40614-017-0086-9. Full Text Open Access Copy

Staddon, J. “Theoretical behaviorism, economic theory, and choice.” History of Political Economy, vol. 48, Jan. 2016, pp. 316–31. Scopus, doi:10.1215/00182702-3619334. Full Text Open Access Copy


Staddon, J. E. R. “Learning as adaptation.” Handbook of Learning and Cognitive Processes: Volume 2: Conditioning and Behavior Theory, 2014, pp. 37–98. Scopus, doi:10.4324/9781315770437. Full Text

Jozefowiez, J., et al. “Cognitive versus associative decision rules in timing.” Subjective Time: The Philosophy, Psychology, and Neuroscience of Temporality, 2014, pp. 355–77.

Jozefowiez, J., and J. E. R. Staddon. “Operant behavior.” Learning and Memory: A Comprehensive Reference, 2007, pp. 75–101. Scopus, doi:10.1016/B978-012370509-9.00087-5. Full Text

Staddon, J. E. R. “Optimality Analyses of Operant Behavior and their Relation to Optimal Foraging.” Limits to Action: The Allocation of Individual Behavior, Academic Press, 1980, pp. 101–41. Open Access Copy

Staddon, J. Scientific method: How science works, fails to work, and pretends to work. 2017, pp. 1–148. Scopus, doi:10.4324/9781315100708. Full Text Open Access Copy

Staddon, J. E. R. Adaptive Behavior and Learning: Second Edition. 2016, pp. 1–599. Scopus, doi:10.1017/CBO9781139998369. Full Text

Staddon, J. E. R. Adaptive Behavior and Learning. Cambridge University Press, 2016. Open Access Copy

Staddon, J. The new behaviorism, second edition. 2014, pp. 1–282. Scopus, doi:10.4324/9781315798172. Full Text Open Access Copy

Staddon, J. E. R. The New Behaviorism. Psychology Press, 2014.

Staddon, J. E. R. The Malign Hand of the Markets. McGraw-Hill, 2012.

Staddon, J. E. R. “Is animal learning optimal?Constructal Theory of Social Dynamics, 2007, pp. 161–67. Scopus, doi:10.1007/978-0-387-47681-0_8. Full Text

Staddon, J. E. R. “Humanism and Skinner's radical behaviorism.” Behavior Theory and Philosophy, edited by K. A. Lattal and P. N. Chase, KLUWER ACADEMIC/PLENUM PUBL, 2003, pp. 129–46.

Cerutti, D. L., et al. “Detecting mine-like targets: Synergistic effects of correlated and uncorrelated sensor channels.” Proceedings of Spie  the International Society for Optical Engineering, vol. 4394, no. 2, 2001, pp. 859–67. Scopus, doi:10.1117/12.445414. Full Text

Cerutti, D. T., et al. “Detecting hidden targets: a procedure for studying performance in a mine-detection-like task.” Proceedings of Spie  the International Society for Optical Engineering, vol. 4038, 2000.

Staddon, J. E. R., and I. M. Chelaru. “A diffusion-based guidance system for autonomous agents.” Proceedings of Spie  the International Society for Optical Engineering, vol. 3390, 1998, pp. 404–11. Scopus, doi:10.1117/12.304848. Full Text

Staddon, J. E. R. “The dynamics of memory in animal learning.” Advances in Psychological Science, Vol 2, edited by M. Sabourin et al., PSYCHOLOGY PRESS, 1998, pp. 259–74.

Staddon, J. E. R. “Why behaviorism needs internal states.” Investigations in Behavioral Epistemology, edited by L. J. Hayes and P. M. Ghezzi, CONTEXT PRESS, 1997, pp. 107–19.

DRAGOI, V., and J. E. R. STADDON. “A COMPETITIVE NEURAL-NETWORK MODEL FOR THE PROCESS OF RECURRENT CHOICE.” Proceedings of the 1993 Connectionist Models Summer School, edited by M. C. Mozer et al., LAWRENCE ERLBAUM ASSOC PUBL, 1994, pp. 65–72.

STADDON, J. E. R. “A NOTE ON RATE-SENSITIVE HABITUATION.” From Animals to Animats 2, edited by J. A. Meyer et al., M I T PRESS, 1993, pp. 203–07.

Staddon, J. E. R. “Reinforcement learning: Reverse-engineering the behavior of pigeons.” International Conference on Fuzzy Theory and Technology Proceedings, Abstracts and Summaries, 1992, p. 8.


Staddon, John E. R. On Responsibility in Science and Law. Cambridge University Press, 1999. Open Access Copy