Burrhus Frederic Skinner: An Advocate for Behaviorism Essay

Burrhus Frederic Skinner: An Advocate for Behaviorism Essay

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I decided to write my essay on B.F. Skinner, whose full first name is Burrhus Frederic. Skinner was born on March 20, 1904 and past away on August 18, 1990. He is considered an influential psychologist, who is known as an advocate to behaviorism. Skinner became interested in the field of psychology through the work of Ivan Pavlov on conditioned response, articles on behaviorism by Bertrand Russell, and ideas of John B. Watson, the founder of behaviorism (“World of Biology,” 2006). Skinner believed that people tend to work harder and learn quicker when they are rewarded for doing something right than when they are punished for doing wrong. In other words, he felt that humans learn behaviors through either positive or negative reinforcement. Skinner labeled this theory, Operant Conditioning.

Beginning in the 1930’s, B.F. Skinner began to develop techniques, terminology, and principles of learning by reinforcement (Terry, 89). According to Skinner, behavior that is reinforced will be strengthened; however, behavior that is not reinforced will weakened. Skinner defined a reinforcer as being whatever works to increase the frequency of an operant response (Terry, 101). He conducted studies on Operant Conditioning using rats and pigeons that he would place in chamber, which was called the “Skinner box”. The Skinner box consisted of either a lever or a key, which a pigeon or rat could operate to obtain food or water as an reinforcer. This chamber was connected to electronic equipment that helped to record the animal’s key pecking or lever pressing to determine how behavior is established and maintained. According to the text, Skinner coined the label operant response, a contrast to the Pavlovian conditioned response, to indicate that t...


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...inforcement and punishment in their everyday lives. Parents are always utilizing Skinners techniques when it comes to persuading their children, and teaching them right from wrong. In addition, pet owners also use his concepts when trying to teach their animals how to behave or a new trick. Teachers also utilize his concepts when they are trying to instill good behavior in their students. As long as children are born, pets are bought, and teachers are employed, Skinner’s techniques will be used. His concepts will also be used in other situations as well. If it were not for his studies and dedication to behaviorism, we, as people, would have probably had a difficult time learning how to shape and mold good behavior in an individual. I can think of many scenarios where I have used Skinner’s techniques, and I believe that I will continue to do so throughout my lifetime.

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