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Eye on Psi Chi: Fall 2004
Dr. Marian Breland Bailey:
A Psi Chi Tribute

Todd Wiebers, PhD, Henderson State University (AR)

Marian Kruse (b. 1920) and her first husband, Keller Breland (d. 1965), were inducted into the Psi Chi National Honor Society in 1940 at the University of Minnesota where they studied under B. F. Skinner. While collaborating with Skinner on his famous Pigeon in a Pelican project during World War II, Marian and Keller envisioned the commercial applications of behavior analysis, left graduate school, and founded Animal Behavior Enterprises (ABE) in 1943 (Bailey, 2003). Beginning with their farm feed advertisements for General Mills©, they went on to train more animals and species of animals than any other animal trainers. In addition to working with chickens, rabbits, ducks, dolphins, whales, parrots, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, rats, dogs, cats, raccoons, and many others, they also were busy training animal trainers. Marian and Keller established, in 1947, the first school and instruction manual for teaching animal trainers the applied technology of behavior analysis. They explored a variety of species for teaching, ultimately identifying the chicken (Gallus domesticus) as best behavioral model for the classroom. The unending list of firsts for the Brelands includes the first dolphin and bird shows using behavior analysis, the first coin-operated animal shows, and the Buck Bunny commercial for Coast Federal Savings (ran for twenty years and is the longest running television commercial). In addition to many avenues of research, Marian also served as chief scientist for ABE's (mostly classified) government work including the development of an avian ambush detection system. Various sources provide extensive information on the history of ABE and Marian's story (e. g., Bailey, 2003; Cook & Wiebers, 1999; Gillaspy & Bihm, 2002). The Brelands moved ABE to Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1950.

It is noteworthy that the Brelands were also the first to introduce the public to the applied technology of behavior analysis via numerous personal appearances at fairs, exhibitions, and theme parks across the country, television shows (e.g., The Today Show, Dave Garroway, Industry on Parade, The Tonight Show, and Wild Kingdom), and other popular media including publications such as Time, Life, Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Popular Mechanics, and The Wall Street Journal.

In the late 1960s, Bob Bailey, the first Director of Training for the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program, joined ABE and became General Manager of the company. In 1976, he and Marian were married. During both of her marriages, Marian produced a number of significant publications including A Field of Applied Animal Psychology (1951), The Misbehavior of Organisms (1961), Foundation of Teaching by Positive Reinforcement (in Teaching the Mentally Retarded, 1965), Animal Behavior (1966), A View from Outside the Skinner Box (1980), and "Misbehavior": A Case History (1993).

Always the scholar, Marian completed her PhD at the University of Arkansas in 1978 and served as a professor of psychology at Henderson State University from 1981-1998. Skinner shared with Marian's doctoral dissertation advisor, Jack Marr, that she probably has the all-time record for the time between when she began her graduate studies in 1941 and when she received her degree in 1978 (Bailey, 2003). Marian was quite student oriented, served as advisor for the Psychology Club, and co-founded the local chapter of Psi Chi National Honor Society in 1992. Actually, Marian did most of the early Psi Chi work, and in typical fashion, assured that a neophyte assistant professor receive credit as advisor. In addition to teaching advanced psychology courses including Verbal Behavior, she was always there for the students, often playing the role of counselor in helping them cope with life's little difficulties. During these years, Marian and Bob produced a number of historical, educational films and founded a series of annual Colloquia on the Origins, Theories, and Practices of Behavior. Examples include Patient Like the Chipmunks (a documentary of ABE), The History of Behavioral Analysis Biographies, and An Apple for the Student: How Behavioral Psychology Can Change the American Classroom.

In 1996, Marian and Bob Bailey established the now famous Bailey & Bailey Operant Conditioning Workshops and began offering them throughout the world to students of all stripes including professional animal trainers, mental health professionals, business personnel, manufacturing supervisors, college students, university professors, and other behavior managers (Bailey, 2003). As a tribute to Marian, Bob continues to offer four increasingly advanced levels of the "physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding" workshops. For additional information about the workshops and contributing to the Marian Breland Bailey Endowed Scholarship in Psychology, see
Dr. Marian Breland Bailey (d. 2001) was a truly remarkable woman, beloved by all who passed her way, and a true pioneer in the history of behavior analysis and animal psychology. Throughout her illustrious career, Marian (affectionately known as Mouse by many of those close to her) exemplified the spirit and philosophy inherent to our discipline via her many roles as scientist, teacher, humanitarian, entrepreneur, loving wife, devoted mother, and loyal Psi Chi member. As colleague, friend, and mentor to so many, she continues to be deeply missed all over the world. We are encouraged to know her memory will continue to influence Psi Chi members and future psychologists for many generations to come. Believe (Bailey, 2003).

Bailey, M. B., & Bailey, R. E. (1993). "Misbehavior": A case history. American Psychologist, 48, 1157-1158.

Bailey, R. E. (2003). A gentle woman for all seasons. Division 25 Recorder, 36, (1), 3-5, 10.

Bailey, R. E., & Bailey, M. B. (1980). A view from outside the Skinner box. American Psychologist, 35, 942-946.

Breland, K., & Breland, M. (1951). A field of applied animal psychology. American Psychologist, 6, 202-204.

Breland, K., & Breland, M. (1961). The misbehavior of organisms. American Psychologist, 16, 681-684.

Breland, K., & Breland, M. (1966). Animal behavior. New York: The Macmillan Company.

Breland, M. (1965). Foundation of teaching by positive reinforcement. In G. J. Bensberg (Ed.), Teaching the mentally retarded: A handbook for ward personnel. Atlanta, GA: Southern Regional Education Board.

Cook, B., & Wiebers, T. (1999). Marian Breland Bailey: A pioneer in the history of applied animal psychology. HSU Academic Forum, 17, 55-62.

Gillaspy, J. A., & Bihm, E. M. (2002). Marian Breland Bailey (1920-2001). American Psychologist, 57, (4), 292-293.

Copyright 2004 (Volume 9, Issue 1) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology


Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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