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B. F. Skinner

B. F. Skinner

“We should not teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. Knowing the contents of a few works of literature is a trivial achievement. Being inclined to go on reading is a great achievement.” – B. F. Skinner

Burrhus Frederick Skinner(B. F. Skinner), the man well known as a behaviorist, psychologist, author, inventor and social philosopher was born on March 20th 1904, the man proved himself to be an accomplished psychologist by writing a whole new chapter in behavioral psychology. He was born and raised in Pennsylvania where he received his early education, after which he graduated from Hamilton college in New York where he decided to become a writer. His theories on behaviorism have made a profound impact on developing a revolutionary school of thought known as Radical Behaviorism.

One of his ground-breaking inventions was the operant conditioning chamber, which is also called Skinner box. The skinner box consisted of a lever, a food tray and a rat which can feed itself by pressing the lever. Each time a rat was put into that box it would run and sniff around for the food eventually identifying the correct spot, pressing the lever and getting the food pellet. After the first successful attempt, the rat got used to the box and hit many successful attempts resulting in getting food as a reward until it satiated its hunger. BF Skinner formulated the principle of reinforcement through this experiment. The studies indicated and confirmed his belief that human free will is not a phenomenal reality but an indicator of results produced by the actions performed. Reinforcement processes indicated that a positive action beget a positive consequence and a negative action beget a negative consequence, so positive and negative consequences of actions reinforces a person to perform what brings about a positive outcome or reward and avoid the negative actions to stay clear of punishments. He redefined the meaning of free will by proposing the revolutionary concept of behaviorism. The therapy technique of behavior modification resulted from his theories on reinforcement and behaviorism. The significant concept identified by proposition of this theory is reinforcement which can be controlled by shaping. Shaping and controlling are the fundamental concepts underlying theory of reinforcement. B. F. Skinner also conducted his experiments on a device called verbal summator to analyze the theories of verbal behavior and he also conducted an analysis about superstitious phenomena on pigeons.

He had earned numerous awards and positions in rewards for his phenomenal works to the field of psychology. American Psychological Association bestowed him with and Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions in 1958, other accreditations to his name include “Scholar Hall of Fame Award” given by the Academy of Human Resource Development. He was awarded honorary degrees by universities of great repute including Alfred College, Harvard University and John Hopkins University, University of Chicago and McGill University. B. F. Skinner also penned down some notable books which proved his mettle as a great writer, the books he wrote include Walden Two and Beyond Freedom and Dignity.

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