Marian Breland Bailey

Marian Breland Bailey
Marian Breland Bailey
Born December 2, 1920(1920-12-02)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United StatesUnited States
Died September 25, 2001(2001-09-25) (aged 80)
Hot Springs, Arkansas United StatesUnited States
Occupation psychologist, animal trainer, behavioral scientist

Marian Breland Bailey, born Marian Ruth Kruse (December 2, 1920 – September 25, 2001) and nicknamed "Mouse",[1] was an American psychologist, an applied behavior analyst who played a major role in developing empirically validated and humane animal training methods and in promoting their widespread implementation. She and her first husband, Keller Breland (1915–1965), studied at the University of Minnesota under behaviorist B. F. Skinner[2] and became "the first applied animal psychologists."[3]


Childhood and education

Born to Christian and Harriet (Prime) Kruse, Marian Ruth Kruse grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. German-born Christian worked for an automotive supply store, and Harriet was a registered nurse.[4] Marian's father and then others called her "Maus" ("mouse"), a common German nickname for little girls.[5] After graduating from Washburn High School as her senior class's valedictorian,[6] Marian Kruse went to the University of Minnesota to major in Latin and minor in Greek. Although financial times were difficult as her family had lost everything during the banking collapse of the Great Depression, a full scholarship and a Works Progress Administration award for writers supported her undergraduate education.[5] Before long, she also became a research assistant for B. F. (Fred) Skinner.

To meet a science requirement, Marian took psychology because, as she later explained, "I thought it the least painful science."[7] As a straight A student, she was recommended for a highly selective psychology class taught by Skinner (the first of what Skinner later called "pro-seminars"), under whom she studied along with George Collier, W. K. Estes, Norman Guttman, Kenneth MacCorquodale, Paul Everett Meehl, and others bound for later fame in their field.[5] With its emphasis on Skinner's new operant training techniques, the course inspired Marian to major in psychology with a minor in child psychology and to study operant conditioning.[8]

Marian worked as Skinner's teaching and laboratory assistant when he published his pivotal work The Behavior of Organisms in 1938.[9] She trained rats for Skinner,[10] typed lecture notes for him, proofread his classic text The Behavior of Organisms,[5] and even babysat his children.[6] Skinner gave her the final galley proof of The Behavior of Organisms, which she considered a prized possession.[1] While still an undergraduate student, Marian met her future husband Keller Breland, who came to call her "Mouse" without knowing that family called her "Maus". Marian and others soon decided that her name was Mouse.[5]

In 1940, Marian joined Psi Chi, the national honor society in psychology.[11] She graduated with her bachelor of arts degree summa cum laude in 1941,[12] the only member of her graduating class with an A average.[13]

Work with Keller Breland

Keller Breland

Pioneer in humane animal training
Born March 26, 1915(1915-03-26)
Poplarville, Mississippi
Died June 17, 1965(1965-06-17) (aged 50)
Hot Springs, Arkansas

After Marian earned her bachelor's degree, she married psychologist Keller Breland on August 1, 1941. Together, they had three children: Bradley (1946), Frances (1948), and Elizabeth (1952).

Marian became the second graduate student to work under the renowned Skinner.[6] Her husband soon came to work with Skinner as well.[14] While graduate students, they collaborated with Skinner on military research during World War II.[15] Their work involved training pigeons for use by the U.S. Navy, teaching the birds to guide bombs. This was never actually used.[14] Although many sources incorrectly refer to the work as Project Pigeon or the Pigeon Project, Marian assured colleagues that its name had actually been "Pigeon in a Pelican", with pelican referring to the missile each pigeon was to guide.[5]

The Brelands saw the commercial possibilities of operant training. So they left the University of Minnesota without completing their doctorates, and founded Animal Behavior Enterprises (ABE) on a farm in Minnesota.[4] Skinner tried to dissuade the Brelands from abandoning their graduate education for an untested commercial endeavor.[16] Classmate Paul Meehl bet $10 they would fail. (His 1961 check for $10 later hung framed on Marian's office wall.)[17]

ABE's first project was training farm animals to appear in feed advertisements for General Mills. The Brelands went on to train "more animals and different species of animals than any other animal trainers"[11] of their time, including animals of the land (cats, cattle, chickens, dogs, goats, pigs, rabbits, raccoons, rats, and sheep), the air (ducks, parrots, and ravens), and the sea (dolphins and whales). At their busiest, they trained "more than 1,000 animals at a given time".[18] In training animals for recreational facilities such as Marineland of Florida, Parrot Jungle, Sea World, and Six Flags, they created the very first dolphin and bird shows, a form of program now considered traditional entertainment fare.[3][18] Most major theme parks' animal programs can be traced back to the Brelands' pioneering work.[14] The Brelands also established the first coin-operated animal shows.[18] The Buck Bunny commercial featured their trained rabbits for a Coast Federal Savings television ad that ran for twenty years and which still holds the record for longest running TV commercial advertisement.[2] They trained animals for many other venues including circuses, motion pictures, museums, stores, and zoos.[19]

Earlier animal trainers had historically relied primarily on punishment when teaching animals. The Brelands instead followed Skinner's emphasis on the use of positive reinforcement to train animals, using rewards for desired behavior.[20] Although other students of Skinner's later entered commercial animal training as well, the Brelands' techniques dominated the field because they found ways to simplify the training of complex behaviors.[3] The Brelands did not just train the animals. They also trained other animal trainers, establishing in 1947 "the first school and instruction manual for teaching animal trainers the applied technology of behavior analysis."[11] Marlin Perkins of Wild Kingdom and Walt Disney were among those who learned from them.[1]

Marian led ABE's government research, some of which remains classified to this day. Known projects included the development of an avian ambush detection system.[2][6][21] In 1950, the Brelands relocated ABE to a farm near Hot Springs, Arkansas. In 1955, they opened the "I.Q. Zoo" in Hot Springs as both a training facility and a showcase of trained animals.[22] "Popular acts included chickens that walked tightropes, dispensed souvenirs and fortune cards, danced to music from jukeboxes, played baseball and ran the bases; rabbits that kissed their (plastic) girlfriends, rode fire trucks and sounded sirens, and rolled wheels of fortune; ducks that played pianos and drums; and raccoons that played basketball."[14]

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"[11]. They appeared on well known television shows such as The Today Show, The Tonight Show, Wild Kingdom, and You Asked For It. Publications including Colliers, Life, Popular Mechanics, Reader's Digest, Saturday Evening Post, Time, and even The Wall Street Journal featured them and their work. Although Keller was often the public face of ABE with some ads referring to "Keller Breland's I.Q. Zoo," the Brelands collaborated equally in ABE's endeavors.[4]

The Brelands stirred controversy[23] among behaviorists with their 1961 article, "The misbehavior of organisms"[24] — the title of which involved a play on words referring to Skinner's classic 1938 work The Behavior of Organisms. Marian and Keller outlined training difficulties in which instinct or instinctive drift might occur as tendencies biologically inherent in a species intrude into the behaviors a trainer was attempting to teach an animal.[25] The article is recognized as a milestone in the history of psychology.[26][27]

In 1963, Marian designed and implemented a program to improve techniques for working with profoundly mentally retarded individuals at a human development center in Alexandria, Louisiana. She emphasized the value of positive reinforcement, and taught ward attendants humane practices that became the standard for institutions of this kind. The 1965 training manual Teaching the Mentally Retarded, which she and others prepared, remained in use for decades.[2][12][28]

On June 16, 1965, Keller died of a heart attack.[14] In their 1966 textbook, Marian described him as the “dreamer” and herself as the “engineer”.[29] She continued writing, researching, and training animals.

Work with Bob Bailey

In 1976, Marian married Robert E. (Bob) Bailey. He had been the first Director of Training in the Navy's Marine Mammal Program, then became ABE's General Manager. He and Marian had founded the facility "Animal Wonderful" in 1972.[2] Among their many activities, the Baileys worked with the Canine Companions for Independence nonprofit organization which trained dogs to assist disabled individuals.[20][30] Together, the Baileys trained animals from over 140 species.

Marian's graduate studies had stopped when she and Keller left to found ABE. Marian now returned to grad school, and earned her Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Arkansas in 1978. She then served as a professor of psychology at Henderson State University from 1981 until her retirement in 1998. During these years, the Baileys produced educational films on topics such as the history of behaviorism. Their film work included The History of Behavioral Analysis Biographies, the ABE documentary Patient Like the Chipmunks, and An Apple for the Student: How Behavioral Psychology Can Change the American Classroom.

Marian continued writing about the "misbehavior" of animals during operant conditioning for publications like American Psychologist, ', the official journal of the American Psychological Association (APA).[31][32] The Baileys were chief among the behaviorists who began using the Internet for instruction, problem solving, and promotion of their science.[33]

In 1996, the Baileys began the Bailey & Bailey Operant Conditioning Workshops, which provided training to animal trainers, psychologists, students, and many others from throughout the world.[21] The program of study involved four increasingly advanced levels of the "physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding" workshops.[34] In 1998, the University of Arkansas inducted Marian into the university's Fulbright College Alumni Academy as one of their first Distinguished Alumni Award recipients.[35]

On September 25, 2001, Marian died at St. Joseph's Hospital in Hot Springs.[1]

Remembering Mouse

After Marian's death, numerous professionals in the field recognized her passing with obituaries and biographies. Dr. Art Gillaspy and Dr. Elson Bihm of the University of Central Arkansas wrote an obituary for the American Psychologist.[6] Psi Chi's journalEye on Psi Chi honored Marian, who had been a member for over sixty years, with a biography by Dr. Todd Wiebers of Henderson State.[11] The year after her death, the Arkansas Historical Quarterly featured a retrospective on Marian, who had been a figure in the state of Arkansas for decades.[36] Her husband Bob provided a biographical tribute for the Division 25 Recorder, the official publication of the APA's Division 25 for Behavior Analysis.[21] Other obituaries and biographies have appeared online.[1][4][8]

In her name, Henderson State University presents the Marian Breland Bailey Endowed Scholarship in Psychology to select psychology undergraduates.[37] Memorial contributions in Marian's memory go to this scholarship[38] and to the Arkansas Kidney Foundation.[1]

Marian's husband Bob continued to teach seminars they developed and the Bailey & Bailey Operant Conditioning Workshops which they began together.[39][40]

The Archives of the History of Psychology in Akron, Ohio, and the Smithsonian Math and Science Museum in Washington, D.C., now house collections of Marian's documents and items.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Clark, C. (2001). Marian Breland (Mouse) Bailey, Ph.D. 1920 - 2001. The Centre for Applied Canine Behaviour. Retrieved on February 20, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e Cook-Hasley & Wiebers (1999). Marian Breland Bailey: A Pioneer in the History of Applied Animal Psychology. Henderson State University. Retrieved on September 19, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c Bailey, R. (2002). Click for Joy! Foreword and Introduction. Retrieved on 2007-09-20.
  4. ^ a b c d e Bihm, E. M., & J. A. Gillaspy (2006). Marian Breland Bailey (1920-2001). The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved on March 10, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Langley, A., & T. Wiebers (2007). Marian Breland Bailey (1920-2001). Paper presented at the annual Arkansas Undergraduate Research Conference. Henderson State University. Arkadelphia, Arkansas. In press: Proceedings Journal of the Arkansas Undergraduate Research Conference.
  6. ^ a b c d e Gillaspy, J. A., & E. M. Bihm (2002). Obituary: Marian Breland Bailey (1920–2001). American Psychologist, 57, pp. 292–293.
  7. ^ Yin (2000). An Interview with Marian Bailey, Ph.D and Bob Bailey. Nerd Book. Retrieved on September 16, 2007.
  8. ^ a b Woolf, L. M. (2002). Marian Breland Bailey: December 2, 1920 - September 25, 2001. Women's Intellectual Contributions to the Study of Mind and Society. Retrieved on 2007-09-20.
  9. ^ Behavior Analysis in Animal Training. Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. Retrieved March 9, 2007. Archived September 27, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Burch, M. R., & J. S. Bailey (1999). How dogs learn. Brief History of Clicker Training. Hoboken, New Jersey: Howell Book House. Retrieved on March 17, 2007.
  11. ^ a b c d e Wiebers, T. (2004). Dr. Marian Breland Bailey: A Psi Chi Tribute. Eye on Psi Chi 9 (1), 24-25. Retrieved on 2007-09-20. Archived February 12, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ a b Cramer, C. (2000). A pioneer for humane methods in teaching animals. (PDF) Main Connection, 8 (1), p. 8.
  13. ^ University of Minnesota graduation program, 1941.
  14. ^ a b c d e Gillaspy, J. A., & E. M. Bihm (2007-07-16). Keller Bramwell Breland (1915-1965). The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved on 2007-09-20.
  15. ^ A brief history. University of Central Arkansas. Retrieved on 2007-09-20. Archived September 30, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Gillaspy, Arthur Jr. (November 5, 1994). Interview with Marian and Robert Bailey. (Cassette recording). Conway, Arkansas.
  17. ^ Bailey, R. E., & J. A. Gillaspy (2005). Operant psychology goes to the fair: Marian and Keller Breland in the popular press, 1947–1966. (PDF) The Behavior Analyst, 28, 143–159. Retrieved on March 1, 2007.[dead link]
  18. ^ a b c Yin, S. (August 2000). Advanced Chicken Training Camp. Cambridge Center of Behavioral Studies. Retrieved on September 18, 2007. Archived September 27, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Chapter six learning. Retrieved on 2007-09-20. Archived August 28, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ a b Fishkoff, S. (1999-11-04). Pecking order: Whatever happened to the chickens who worked the tic-tac-toe game on Cannery Row? Montery County Weekly. Retrieved on March 9, 2007.
  21. ^ a b c Bailey, R. E. (2003). A gentle woman for all seasons. Division 25 Recorder, 36 (1), 1, pp. 4-5.
  22. ^ (1955-02-28). I.Q. Zoo. TIME. Retrieved on 2007-09-20.
  23. ^ History of Applied Behavioral Psychology Lab: Misbehavior of organisms controversy. University of Central Arkansas. Retrieved on 2007-09-20.[dead link]
  24. ^ Green, C.D. Classics in the History of Psychology: The Misbehavior of Organisms. York University. Retrieved on 2007-09-20.
  25. ^ Lavin, M. J. Brelands and instinctual drift. St. Bonaventure University. Retrieved on 2007-09-20.
  26. ^ Brewer, C. L. Psychology in an historical context: A timeline. Worth Publishers. Retrieved on 2007-09-20.
  27. ^ Miele, F. (2004-06-22). The revival of human nature [not equal to] the denial of human nurture: toward a consilient science of human behavior. Skeptic, 11 (2). Retrieved on 2007-09-20.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ Breland, K., & Breland, M. (1966). Animal behavior. New York: The Macmillan Company.
  30. ^ Alexander, M. (1999-07-24). Diary of a chicken trainer. Click Solutions. Retrieved on 2007-09-20.
  31. ^ Bailey, M. B., & R. E. Bailey (1993). "Misbehavior": A case history. American Psychologist, 48, pp. 1157-1158.
  32. ^ Bailey, R. E., & M. B. Bailey (1980). A view from outside the Skinner box. American Psychologist, 35, pp. 942-946.
  33. ^ Pryor, K. (1999). Don't shoot the dog: The new art of teaching and training. (Rev. ed.) New York: Bantam Books.
  34. ^ Bailey, M. B., & R. E. Bailey. Bailey & Bailey Workshops. Hot Springs National Park website. Retrieved on 2007-09-20.
  35. ^ Distinguished Alumni Academy (1998-1999). Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved on 2007-09-20.[dead link]
  36. ^ Marr, J. N. (2002). Marian Breland Bailey: The mouse who reinforced. Arkansas Historical Quarterly, 61, 59–79.
  37. ^ Langley, T. (2007). Marian Breland Bailey Scholars. Henderson State University. Retrieved on 2007-09-20
  38. ^ Bailey, R. E. Marian Breland Bailey Memorial Scholarship Fund. Hot Springs National Park. Retrieved on 2007-09-20.
  39. ^ Ryan, T. et al. Bob Bailey Workshops. Legacy Canine. Retrieved on 2007-09-20. Archived October 8, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  40. ^ Bailey, M. B., & Bailey, R. E. Marian & Bob Bailey Operant Conditioning and Behavior Analysis Workshops. Hot Springs National Park. Retrieved on 2007-09-20.

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