B. F. Skinner


Burrhus Frederic Skinner was born on March 20, 1904 in the small town of Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. Skinner attended Hamilton College in New York where he recieved his Bachelors Degree in English. Soon after graduating, Skinner realized that English was not one of his strong suits and he decided to go back to college. In 1930 Skinner obtained his Masters Degree in Psychology and in 1931 received his Doctrate in Psychology all from Harvard University. "In 1945, he became the chairman of the psychology department at Indiana University" (Boeree, 1998), until Harvard asked him to return. Skinner returned to Harvard and remanied there until he died on August 18, 1990 from Leukemia. B. F. Skinner is said to be "the most celebrated psychologist since Sigmund Freud" (Boeree, 1998).

Operant Conditioning Chamber

Also known as a "Skinner Box", this chamber is used to study animal behavior. Skinner used a rat when first trying this experiment. Skinner placed the rat in a box. In the box was a lever and a dispenser for food. The rat would have to learn to press down the lever a preset amount of times in order to obtain any food. When the food is dispensed an electrical pulse would go through the box making the rat feel uncomfortable. But no matter how uncomfortable the rat felt it still proceeded to push the lever down in order to obtain the food it wanted. This "Operant Conditioning Chamber [is used] to measure organic responses and their orderly interactions with the environment" (Wikipedia, 2007).

Behaviorism

Behaviorism is also known as the learning perspective, "where any physical action is a behavior" (Wikipedia, 2008).

Classical Behaviorism

John Watson first came up with the idea of Behaviorism, believing that "psychology was not concerned with the mind or with human consciousness" (DeMar, 1989). This idea instead involved only behavior. Watson's ideas on behaviorism were influenced by those of Ivan Pavlov, who conditioned dogs to salivate at the sight of food, and then without the food present. Although these ideas are still around they are not nearly recognized for B. F. Skinner is the more recent face of Behaviorism.

Radical Behaviorism

B. F. Skinner influence on Radical Behaviorism is still being studied and used today. This type of Behavioism deals with "the the idea that behavior is determined by its consequences, be they reinforcements or punishments, which make it more or less likely that the behavior will occur again" (NNDB, 2008). Skinner thought that Psychology should be only the study of behaviors, not necessarily the study of mental processes. Skinner used Operant Conditioning/Psychology to "account for the behavior" (Wikipedia, 2008) that John Watson's Classical Conditioning did not. Skinner used the system of Rewards and Punishments to show his theory.

  • "If the probability of a behavior is increased as a consequence of the presentation of a stimulus, that stimulus is a positive reinforcer"
  • "If the probability of a behavior is increased as a consequence of the withdrawal of a stimulus, that stimulus is a negative reinforcer"
  • "If the probability of a behavior is decreased as a consequence of the presentation of a stimulus, that stimulus is a positive punisher"
  • "If the probability of a behavior is decreased as a consequence of the withdrawal of a stimulus, that stimulus is a negative punisher or response cost punishment."
  • (Wikipedia, 2008)

References

1.Boeree, C. G. (1998). Retrieved November 6, 2008, from http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/skinner.html
2.B. F. Skinner (2007). Retrieved November 6, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._F._Skinner
3. DeMar, G. (1989, April). Retrieved November 6, 2008, from http://forerunner.com/forerunner/X0497_DeMar_-_Behaviorism.html
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4. B. F. Skinner (2008). Retrieved November 6, 2008, from http://www.nndb.com/people/297/000022231/7.//
5. Radical Behaviorism (2008). Retrieved November 6, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radical_behaviorism

Breanne Kooi
Mr. Robillard
AP Psychology
2 January 2009