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Burrhus Frederic (B. F.) Skinner Essay

842 words - 4 pages

Burrhus Frederic (B. F.) Skinner was born on March 20th 1904 to a lawyer father and housewife mother. As a young student Skinner’s ambitions were in the field of writing. Psychology wasn’t of interest for Skinner until after his graduation from Hamilton College. At age 24 Skinner enrolled at Harvard University in the Psychology department. It was during his time at Harvard that Skinner first created his operant behavior model. In 1936 Skinner married Yvonne Blue and started his first teaching job at the University of Minnesota. Skinner had two daughters with Yvonne and moved two more times for teaching jobs over the next 10 years. His next move was to Indiana to become Chair of the ...view middle of the document...

Operant conditioning is the rewarding of a partial behavior or a random act that approaches the desired behavior (Public Broadcasting Service, n.d). You can view operant conditioning in a simpler way by thinking about training a dog. Normally you would train your dog to sit by telling it to sit and then either waiting for him to sit and rewarding him when he does, or putting him in a sitting position and saying sit then giving him a reward. With operant conditioning you would wait until your dog makes any kind of movement toward sitting down and reward him at that point. Once the dog understands what he is doing to get the treat, you would require him to get closer to an actual sitting position before you reward him. This would continue until the dog sits all the way down before you reward him. Even in a dog training explanation it is kind of brilliant. I can’t even count how many times I have had to say sit over and over with a puppy before it actually knew what I meant and by that point it just thought I was mad because I would be yelling. This leads us into how behavior was taught.
When it came time to experiment with his theories, Skinner developed what was called the “Skinner Box”. The box took different forms over time in order to shape different behaviors, but the original is simple to explain. The Skinner Box was exactly that, a box. It was big enough for a rat, which skinner used early on,...

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