Karen Pryor is a big picture thinker.
She initially learned about behavior theory as a pioneering dolphin trainer in the 1960s. But early on she had mentors from fields that rarely intersected, such as behaviorist B. F. Skinner and ethologist Konrad Lorenz. Karen has said: “I consider my gifts as a scientist to be the ability to synthesize apparently opposing fields of thought and to apply theory in the real world.”
In the real world, using her perspective, she has brought positive reinforcement (clicker) training to the dog and zoo worlds, gave confidence to hundreds of thousands of breast-feeding women, developed techniques for teaching people with autism, and has changed how surgeons learn their skills which in turn creates less stressful and more error-free operation rooms. The common thread through all of her work is how she effectively reduces gratuitous violence and creates a culture that is productive, yet filled with kindness.
Entering her tenth decade of life, Karen is retired and is enjoying living in the mountains of California with family. Her daughter Gale has recently written a wonderful article about Karen.