His Life, Methods, and Effects on Psychology
B.F. Skinner is perhaps one of the most influential and important figures in the field of psychology. His theories and methods have been taught and applied to psychological practice even to the present day. My goal in this paper is to illustrate Skinner’s contribution to psychology by explaining the following:
1. Skinner’s biography and psychological beginnings.
2. Skinner’s belief that human beings are devoid of free will.
3. Skinner’s methods based on operant conditioning.
4. How the conditioning affect patients.
5. How the conditioning can be detrimental to patients.
This review of B.F. Skinner will focus on these four questions.
Skinner’s Biography and Psychological Beginnings
Burrhus Frederic Skinner was born March 20, 1904 in the town of Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. Skinner was raised as an active child and could be found creating inventions to help him with everyday life. As a young adult, Skinner received a Bachelors of Arts in English from New York’s Hamilton College. Also, Skinner was a writer for the school’s newspaper. Writing had always been a passion of Skinner’s and he frequently submitted short stories and poems in the hopes that they would be published. Skinner stayed in New York City working as a bookstore clerk where he stumbled upon the books by Ivan Pavlov and John B. Watson. Skinner found them fascinating and it sparked his longing to learn more.
Skinner enrolled at Harvard University into the Psychology Department. Still a rebellious youth, Skinner found a mentor in Harvard’s head of the Physiology Department, William Crozier. Crozier advocated a program of analyzing subjects “as a whole” instead of focusing on their interior functions. Skinner took this philosophy of studying behaviorism and began to conduct experiments with it. Through experimentations with rats, Skinner developed the theory of operant behavior. Operant behavior is behavior...