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Burrhus Frederic Skinner - Essay Example

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Burrhus Frederic Skinner

It should be noted that "his work has influenced how information is organized and presented in textbooks for elementary school through college, as well as how many computer tutorial programs are written" (Major Behavioral Psychology Theories n.d.).
B. F. Skinner's main contribution in the field of behavioral psychology is his pioneering work on understanding behavior as a function of environmental histories of reinforcing consequences. He has capitalized on E. L. Thorndike's theory which posits learning as a function of behavior and consequences. BF Skinner has been widely regarded for his discovery of operant conditioning or the "use of consequences to modify the occurrence and form of behavior" (Operant Conditioning 2007). He believes that the development of our individual personality is largely due to how respond to the external situations around us. As stated above, this finding has become one of the basic assumptions held in the field of behavioral psychology, that is, behavior is created through reinforcement and punishment.
The contributions of Skinner to psychology can be created to his invention of the operant conditioning chamber which he uses to measure organism's responses and their interaction with the environment. His study focused mainly on how rats are conditioned in order to come up with the desired behavior.
According to B. F. Skinner, there are four types of operant conditioning namely, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment, and extinction. Through positive reinforcement, a particular behavior is strengthened by the consequence of experiencing a positive condition. In negative reinforcement, a particular behavior is strengthened by the consequence of stopping or avoiding a negative condition. On the other hand, punishment occurs when a behavior is followed by an aversive stimulus. Lastly, extinction refers to the weakening of an established behavior because of lack of positive or negative reinforcement (Operant Conditioning Basics 2007).
Through these responses of other people around an individual, he is able to establish a unique personality. It becomes notable that Skinner equates personality with behavior and "behavior is determined by principles of operant conditioning which focuses on the relationship of behavior to the environment" (Walsh n.d.). This, of course is void of the individual's thoughts, emotions, and even freedom of choice. For Skinner, mental processes and structures plays no important role in finding the link between behavior and the external environment. Also, freedom of choice is non-existent; stressing that it is solely the environmental stimuli which determine the behavior of an individual. Thus, B. F. Skinner strongly asserts that "the consistency observed in the behavior of individuals is the result of the development of stable response tendencies (Walsh n.d.)." He also recognized that these tendencies may change over time as environmental sti ...Show more

Summary

Burrhus Frederic Skinner (B.F. Skinner) is one of the most recognized personalities in the field of behavioral psychology or behaviorism. Compared to other areas in psychology, behaviorism has been formulated under four assumptions: the proper concern of psychological science should be the study of observable behavior and responses; people are born as blank slates and whatever they learn to do depends on their interactions and experiences with the environment; behavior that is followed by satisfying consequences will be more likely to be repeated and behavior that is followed by unsatisfying consequences will be less likely to be repeated; and changes in behavior and learning can occur automa…
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Burrhus Frederic Skinner essay example
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