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The Life and Work of Burrhus Frederic Skinner

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 786
  • Category: Life Work

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Behavioral psychology, also known as behaviorism, is a theory of learning based upon the idea that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning. Conditioning occurs through interaction with the environment. According to behaviorism, behavior can be studied in a systematic and observable manner with no consideration of internal mental states 0. Behaviorism traces its roots to the early part of the 20th century, a time when many psychologists emphasized self-analysis of mental rocesses (introspection) or the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud.

In contrast, researchers like B. F. Skinner began to develop a framework which emphasized observable processes (environmental stimuli and behavioral responses). The result was a new approach, behaviorism, which grew in popularity for some fifty years, becoming the dominant framework for experimental research. While its restrictions (including ignoring mental processes) ultimately led many psychologists to turn to other approaches, it is nonetheless still influential today. One of the most influential, controversial, and fearless theorists throughout psychology holds the name of Burrhus Fredric Skinner, also known as B. F. Skinner.

Throughout Skinner’s life he was not afraid to color outside of the lines. He always made his own rules, and formulated ideas and ways to make his theorys become a reality. Skinner’s behaviorism shared with its predecessors a philosophical inclination toward positivism and determinism. He believed that the contents of the mind were not open to scientific scrutiny and that scientific psychology should mphasize the study of observable behavior. He focused on behavior-environment relations and analyzed overt and covert (i. e. private) behavior as a function of the organism interacting with its environment (Psychology, N. D).

Herrnstein explained to the NY times in 1968 that Skinner did what no one did before… Watson changed psychology from the study of mind to the study if behavior, but Skinner changed it to a science of behavior. Skinner was not only an American Behaviorist; he was an author, inventor, social philosopher, poet, teacher, mentor, devoted husband and father. Even now in the twentieth century his foundations of behaviorism, inventions, bodies of work, and theories are still being used.

His principles are still incorporated within treatments of phobias, addictive behaviors, and in the enhancement of classroom performance (as well as in computer-based self-instruction). I chose Skinner as my theorist because I truly believe him to be one of the most influential American psychologists throughout history. I believe that he was very misunderstood historical fgure and I wanted research the facts about this admirable man. An additional motivation of mine to write about Skinner is because my aunt attended Harvard University while he was Professor, and studied under him.

From my early youth to current standings I have always heard and learned about him and his controversial work from her. She always expressed his importance to me and how life, and work. Early Life March 20, 1904 the Transcript (local newspaper company) headliner read, “Susquehanna has a new law firm- Wm. A. Skinner & Son” followed by the statement, we don’t suppose the recently added member will be a ‘silent partner’. Skinner describes his birth as a difficult and traumatic experience due to the fact of the near death of his mother, which he states he was occasionally reminded of throughout early life.

B. F. Skinner was born toa couple quite concerned with outward appearances and social respectability, Grace Burrhus- Skinner and William Skinner. In Susquehanna, a small railroad town in the hills of Pennsylvania Just below Binghamton, New York. His birth name was Fredric Skinner, but later in life changed it for future works of literature. William was an attorney for the Erie Railroad. Grace was actively involved with numerous civic organizations, primarily to promote the family image.

According to her son, she derived little pleasure from them. She was in many ways the dominant member of the family. She had consented to marry his father, and there was an element of consent in her behavior with respect to him throughout his life. She had been the more prominent, the more successful, and the more sought-after person in the group (Skinner, 1977). Skinner describes his father as a man who, in spite of iving it his all, always seemed to fall short, thereafter experiencing overpowering feelings of failure.

Skinner’s early depiction of his father as a lawyer and politician is a classic portrayal of a man who perceived his life as a colossal blunder. Skinner (1977) explains how he knew that his father yearned for a good father son relationship but did not know how to enter one. He gave all the advances he could, but it was never really a warm relationship (p. 148). Skinner was the eldest of two boys; his little brother Edward; whom was named after his uncle was two and a half years younger than him.

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