‘After-the-fact causality’: a different direction for cultural geography

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Abstract

Cultural geography might benefit from consideration of radical behaviourism and from interpretation and application of the concepts of behaviour analysis. The basic concept is that of operant conditioning, referring to the environment reinforcing behaviours that are most adaptive and effective in achieving reinforcers and avoiding aversive stimuli. The concept of rule-governed behaviour facilitates incorporation of cognition into behaviour analyses, accommodating the fact that many consequences are delayed. These concepts are applied in an analysis of nineteenth-century Mormon settlement in the American West. This argument for an objectivist approach is laden with social scientific baggage not favoured in contemporary cultural geography.

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