Operant Conditioning by B. F Skinner

1580 WordsDec 12, 20087 Pages
Introduction People do on a day to day basis, many actions without realizing it, and most of the time, they don’t know why they do them. Certain reinforcements, some positive, and some negative have conditioned their actions and thoughts. In this essay, I chose Burrhus Frederic Skinner who came up with the theory of operant conditioning. B. F. skinner,(March 20, 1904 – August 18, 1990) is an American psychologist who believed that we do have such a thing as a mind, but that it is simply more productive to study observable behavior rather than internal mental events. As Skinner's theory was based on the earlier work of Thorndike, he also believed that the best way to understand a behavior is to look at the causes of the…show more content…
For example he studies the behavior of rats under carefully controlled laboratory conditions. Skinner Box Skinner illustrated positive reinforcement by placing a hungry rat in his Skinner box (Appendix 2). The box contained a lever in the side and as the rat moved about the box it would accidentally knock the lever. As the lever move, a food pellet would drop into a container next to the lever. The rats quickly learned to go straight to the lever after a few times of being put in the box. The consequence of receiving food if they pressed the lever ensured that they would repeat the action again and again. Skinner illustrated negative reinforcement by placing a rat in his Skinner box and then subjecting it to an unpleasant electric current which caused it some discomfort. As the rat moved about the box it would accidentally knock into the lever. Immediately as it did so, the electric current would be switched off. The rats quickly learned to go straight to the lever after a few times of being put in the box. The consequence of escaping the electric current ensured that they would repeat the action again and again. Human and animals are not alike Based on the Skinner box, we are able to conclude that Skinner actually conducts and derived his theories from rats and other animals such as pigeon. The experiment on pigeon was referred to as the “Superstition in Pigeon” in which a pigeon was kept in a cage and at regular
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