B.F. Skinner (1904-1990) was an American psychologist and proponent of the school of behaviorism. Inventor of the operant conditioning chamber, better known as the Skinner Box, Skinner held the notion that free will was an illusion and that all human behavior was the consequence of action. Much of his philosophy was summed up in his book Walden Two. Paper Masters can compose a custom written research paper on Skinner that follows your guidelines.
Skinner received a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1931, eventually becoming a professor there from 1948 until his retirement in 1974. He labeled his work “radical behaviorism,” desiring to understand human behavior as a function of the environment reinforcing consequences of behavior. Skinner believed that human beings’ behavior could be manipulated through external rewards, known as behavioral engineering.
Skinner's main tenants are:
- Free will is an illusion
- Human behavior is a consequence of action
- Human behavior is a function of one's environment
Skinner developed the idea of schedules of reinforcement, delivered in interval or ratio schedules, both of which could be fixed or variable. He also invented the operant conditioning chamber, which measured the responses of animals, usually rats or pigeons, and their interactions with the environment. Skinner’s work held that consequences played an important role in the subject’s behavior, developed into the theories of Escape Learning and Avoidance Learning.
B.F. Skinner’s work remains both highly influential and highly controversial in American science. He is highly influential on American education, believing that positive reinforcement was a key to learning.