Oct 20

Edmund Fantino, 1939-2015


Edmund Fantino was one of the early student pioneers of operant conditioning at Harvard, and established his own pigeon lab and research group at UCSD where he . I used to attend the group’s weekly discussion meetings and it was always a huge brain-treat.

Some of his major contributions were in the topics of rates and timing of reinforcement, the effect of reinforcement on choice and decision making, and foraging behavior — all of which are of great interest to anyone doing outdoor flight training with birds.

Edmund Fantino, PhD, was Professor of Psychology and the Neurosciences Group at the University of California, San Diego (USCD). He did his undergraduate work at Cornell University, graduating with a major in mathematics in 1961. He obtained a doctoral degree from Harvard University in 1964. He was an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Yale University (1964-1967), until he moved to his present position. He has served as the Editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (1987-1991) and as President of the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (1985-1987).


He died almost 30 years after being diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer, and worked at UCSD the entire time, for a total of 48 years on faculty. In his book Behaving Well: Strategies for Celebrating Life in the Face of Illness, he delves into how he applied his science to his life, something which made him a beloved teacher and colleague as well.

Here’s a sampling of his classic publications:

  • FANTINO, E. (1967). Preference for mixed- versus fixed-ratio schedules. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 10 (1), 35-43. [PDF]
  • FANTINO, E. & HERRNSTEIN, R.J. (1968). Secondary reinforcement and number of primary reinforcements. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 11 (1), 9-14. [PDF]
  • FANTINO, E. & PRESTON, R.A. (1988). Choice and foraging : the effects of accessibility on acceptability. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 50 (3), 395-403. [PDF]
  • FANTINO, E. (1998). Judgment and decision making : Behavioral approaches. The Behavior Analyst, 21, 203-218. [PDF]
  • FANTINO, E. & ROMANOVICH, P. (2007). The effect of conditioned reinforcement rate on choice : A review. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 87 (3), 409-421. [PDF]

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