Essay on Behavior Modification

Essay on Behavior Modification

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Behavior Modification


In the book A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess the main character, Alex, is exposed to an experimental technique known as "Ludovico's Technique" which causes him to feel pain whenever he is exposed to sex, violence, or certain types of music. This Ludovico's Technique is a form of behavior modification, most likely inspired by B.F. Skinner.
Burrhus Frederic Skinner was a widely known, and criticized, psychologist/behaviorist who founded the operant science of behaviorism around 1938. He is most famous for "Skinner's box", where a rat would be placed in a box and conditioned to press a lever in order to receive food. What Skinner is most widely criticized for is his disbelief in the higher mental activities, such as thinking, and his own belief in the feeling of freedom is more important than actual freedom, which he also believed to be an illusion (B.F. Skinner, pg. 107). Some of Skinner's accomplishments include: project pigeon (1940), the baby tender ( 1944), a work of fiction titled Walden Two ( 1948), and his most widely criticized book titled Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971).

To roughly explain Skinner's connection with Alex's modification I will briefly go over his past achievements. Project Pigeon was an idea conceived by Skinner to use pigeons as missile guidance systems during WWII (B.F. Skinner, pg. 122). The project never left the experimental stage, due to Washington's opinion that it was a "backwater project" compared to gyroscope guidance, but it confirms Skinner's confidence in behaviorism. The "baby tender" was conceived shortly after his wife became pregnant with their second child.

There he built a thermostatically controlled, enclosed crib with a safety glass front and a...


... middle of paper ...


...n as a whole is an effective means to changing criminal behavior but it has its drawbacks. It reduces human beings down to machines, where we would only act good because we were conditioned that way. Skinner, however, contends that "We are all controlled by the world in which we live, and part of that world has been and will be constructed by man. The question is this: Are we to be controlled by accident, by tyrants, or by ourselves in effective cultural design?" (Learning and the. . . pg. 1).

Works Cited

Bjork, Daniel. B.P. Skinner-A Life. New York: Basic Books, 1993.

Lieberman, David, ed. Learning and the Control of Behavior: Some Principles. Theories, and Applications of Classical and Operant Conditioning. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1974.

Reynolds, G. S. A Primer of Operant Conditioning Glenview: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1975.

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