Classic Behavioristic Principles of Psychology Developed by B.F. Skinner

Classic Behavioristic Principles of Psychology Developed by B.F. Skinner

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According to Gewirtz and Peláez-Nogueras (1992), “B. F. Skinner contributed a great deal to advancing an understanding of basic psychological processes and to the applications of science-based interventions to problems of individual and social importance.” He contributed to “human and nonhuman behavior, including human behavioral development, and to various segments of the life span, including human infancy” (p. 1411). One of Skinner's greatest scientific discoveries was “single reinforcement” which became sufficient for “operant conditioning, the role of extinction in the discovery of intermittent schedules, the development of the method of shaping by successive approximation, and Skinner's break with and rejection of stimulus-response psychology” (Iversen, 1992, p. 1318).
According to Skinner’s theories, “Reinforcement does not strengthen the response instance that produces the reinforcer.” Rather, reinforcement can increase the likelihood that a comparable response may occur within the future. For one bottom-line, “behavior is not caused by something that has not yet happened.” Similar to operant conditioning, “the emission of a response reflects past conditioning, so the response occurs because similar responses were reinforced earlier, not because it will be reinforced later.” Skinner agreed that the “initial high response rate seen in extinction sessions exemplified this important aspect of operant conditioning” (Iversen, 1992, pp. 1325-1327). Theoretically, Skinner identified two aspects of reinforcement, one is the “pleasing effect of reinforcing stimuli, the other is their strengthening action.” Furthermore, Skinner emphasized that “feeling pleased by an event does not necessarily make a person want to repeat the respons...


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...al Record, 62(1), 125-131.
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Skinner, C. H., Williams, R. L., & Neddenriep, C. E. (2004). Using Interdependent Group-Oriented Reinforcement to Enhance Academic Performance in General Education Classrooms. School Psychology Review, 33(3), 384-397.
Sutherland, K. S., & Singh, N. N. (2004). Learned Helplessness and Students with Emotional or Behavioral Disorders: Deprivation in the Classroom. Behavioral Disorders, 29(2), 169-181.
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