John E. R. Staddon
James B. Duke Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Neuroscience

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, Unlucky Strike Second Edition, and Science in an age of unreason  (Regnery, 2022). 

Current Research Interests

Recent theoretical work includes papers on operant conditioning, memory, timing and psychobiological aspects of ethical and economic philosophy.  He has written and lectured on public-policy issues such as education and evolution, traffic control, smoking, the philosophy of social science and the effects of social and biological processes on financial markets.  He is the author of more than 200 research papers and six books, including The New Behaviorism: Mind, Mechanism and Society . (Psychology Press, 2001) and Adaptive Dynamics: The Theoretical Analysis of Behavior, (MIT/Bradford, 2001) Adaptive Behavior and Learning (Cambridge University Press, 1983, 2nd edition 2016), The Malign Hand of the Markets (McGraw-Hill, 2012), The Englishman: Memoirs of a psychobiologist.   (University of Buckingham Press, 2016) and Scientific Method: How science works, fails to work or pretends to work. (Taylor and Francis, 2018). 

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

  • 242 Soc/Psych Building, Durham, NC 27708
  • Box 90086, Durham, NC 27708-0086

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