Bombs and Missiles: Reinforcers for the Few

Robert G. Jensen


The current arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union is examined from an applied behavioral perspective. After identifying those behaviors that define the "arms race" two variables are examined that are plausibly related to changes in those behaviors, money and the so-called threat from the Soviet Union. An examination of a variety of published sources suggests that (a) weapons producers receive more reinforcers for the manufacture of arms than for civilian goods; (b) the United States government is the principal source of these reinforcers; and (c) the "threat" posed by the Soviet Union rationalizes this allocation of reinforcers, although the evidence indicates that other variables (e.g., competition between the military services, political-economic control by United States based corporations of other countries, etc.) are functionally related to such allocations. Published data reveal the immediate and probable long-term aversive effects on the majority of the world's population. Finally, countercontrolling measures are discussed, with special attention to conditions that potentially weaken countercontrolling efforts.

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