Reply to review of The Centerfold Syndrome: “Missing my point”

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1998, Vol 43(11), 796. Comments on Douglas A. Williams and Jennifer L. Hurlburt's review (see record 2004-17580-034) of James Thomas Walker's book, The Psychology of Learning: Principles and Processes (see record 1995-98802-000). Williams and Hurlburt note, with apparent approval, the “surprisingly large number of topics” my book covers. However, the reviewers find my coverage wanting in other respects. For example, they assert that “The importance of informational variables in Pavlovian conditioning …is only mentioned in passing at the end of Chapters 2 and 5”. In fact, Chapter 2 (p. 45) introduces this topic and promises a more extended treatment in Chapter 5, which pp. 124-134 of the book indeed deliver, including a development of the Rescorla-Wagner model. This coverage surely represents more than merely mentioning informational variables “in passing.” Not every topic of interest to everyone in the field can be covered in a textbook aimed primarily at sophomore-to-senior undergraduates, an audience specified in the first paragraph of my Preface. Based on these omissions, real or imagined, the reviewers then draw the unwarranted conclusion that “the student may view Pavlovian and instrumental learning as stale areas of research in which there has been little progress since the early part of the 20th century.” Only a very careless reader could reach such a conclusion. In fact, I have cited many references to recent work in these areas dating from the latter years of this century, some within a year or two of my book's date of publication, 1996. Other problematic aspects of the review are discussed. Although Williams and Hurlburt say some nice things here and there, their review paints a distorted picture of my book. I believe many readers of this flawed review will conclude that my book is dated, inadequate, and unworthy of further consideration–notwithstanding my “fluid and accessible writing style.” (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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