Karen Wylie Pryor
Karen Pryor is an author and behavioral biologist whose work combines the tools of both ethology and behaviorism. The daughter of author Philip Wylie, she wrote plays, poetry, and magazine articles in her college years. Her first popular book, Nursing Your Baby, a guide for mothers, sold over 2 million copies and is currently in its 4th edition.
Trained as a marine biologist, in the 1960's Pryor was a pioneer in the training of dolphins with operant conditioning. She has served as a researcher and consultant on marine mammal issues to the fishing industry and to government and during the Reagan administration was appointed Federal Commissioner on the Marine Mammal Commission, with oversight for all programs involving marine mammals in US waters. She is the author of numerous scientific articles and book chapters, several popular books on training of animals and people, and was senior editor and contributing author of Dolphin Societies, a major anthology of open-ocean dolphin research (University of California Press, 1991).
In 1984 Pryor published Don’t Shoot the Dog, a popular book on positive reinforcement-based training of animals and people, which has been translated into 18 languages and is now the standard text on the subject. In 1997 Pryor formed an educational company to teach modern training to animal handlers, leading to changes in handling methods in much of the dog world and in zoos; and in the same period became cofounder and CEO of TAGteach International, bringing positive methods to human applications ranging from sports to autism. She is currently co-principal investigator in a program developing better ways to train medical students. Pryor lectures at universities in the U.S. and abroad, and has keynoted many scientific conferences. Pryor is also a visiting lecturer and Research Associate at Hunter College in New York, working with graduate students interested in operant learning and behavior. She is currently working on her 10th book.