BF Skinner Essay Research Paper BF SkinnerOn

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B.F. Skinner Essay, Research Paper B.F. Skinner On March 20, 1904, a man known as B.F. Skinner was born in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania (Encarta 95). His real name was Burrhus Fredric, but he signed his name as B.F. since he was at the tender age of nine (World Authors 764). Skinner accomplished many things in his lifetime. He wrote several books, all about psychology. B.F. Skinner was the first child of William A. and Grace Burrhus Skinner (World Authors 764). His father was a successful lawyer who wrote a legal standard textbook (World Authors 764). Because of this, B.F. Skinner grew up wealthy, but he still held a job as a shoe clerk (Markle 3). During high school, Skinner was involved in many activities, including writing for the local paper, playing the piano and saxophone,

and inventing things (Markle 3). After graduating high school, B.F. Skinner went to Hamilton College (World Authors 764). In 1926, Skinner graduated from Hamilton where he majored in English language and literature (Academic American 343). From there, he went on to Harvard University, where he received a Ph.D. degree in 1931(Encarta 95). B.F. stayed there until 1936 doing laboratory experiments (Academic American 343). He then joined the University of Minnesota in 1937 (Academic American 343). It was during this time that Skinner wrote his first book The Behavior of Organisms (Encarta 95). The book was quoted to be a “fairly comprehensive study of operant conditioning” (Academic American 343). Escobar 2 In this book, the theory of B.F. Skinner is based upon the idea that

learning is a function of change in overt behavior (Markle 59). Changes in behavior are the result of an individual’s response to events (stimuli) that occur in the environment (Markle 60). A response produces a consequence such as defining a word, hitting a ball, or solving a math problem (Markle 60). When a particular Stimulus-Response (S-R) pattern is reinforced (rewarded), the individual is conditioned to respond (Markle 60). The distinctive characteristic of operant conditioning relative to previous forms of behaviorism (for example Thorndike and Hull) is that the organism can emit responses instead of only eliciting response due to an external stimulus (Markle 61). Reinforcement is the key element in Skinner’s S-R theory (Markle 61). A reinforcer is anything that

strengthens the desired response (Skinner 47). It could be verbal praise, a good grade, or a feeling of increased accomplishment or satisfaction (Skinner 47). The theory also covers negative reinforcers (punishment) that result in the reduction of undesired responses (Markle 61). A great deal of attention was given to schedules of reinforcement and their effects on establishing and maintaining behavior (Markle 61). After this book was written, Skinner married Yvonne Blue (Academic American 343). In 1938, he had his first daughter, Julie Vargas and his second one in 1944, named Deborah Buzan (Academic American 343). During World War II, Skinner was an associate professor for the United States Office of Scientific Research and Development (Encarta 95). He did important research,

which eventually led to his development of the “Skinner Box” (Encarta 95). This research included training pigeon guided missiles (World Authors 764). Skinner was supported by General Motors, Inc. and the Office of Scientific Research and Escobar 3 Development (Encarta 95). It was also during this time in which he first designed his “baby box”, also called the Aircrib (World Authors 764). The baby box is a controlled environmental chamber for infants (World Authors 764). Skinner used his own daughter, Deborah, (along with two granddaughters), for this “baby box (World Authors 764). The Aircrib is a large, air-conditioned, germ-free, soundproof box made to give an ideal environment (World Authors 766). The baby put in the box could play or sleep without clothes or