B. F. Skinners Research
B. F. Skinner, famed American psychologist is well known for his invention of the operant conditioning chamber known as the Skinner box. Operant conditioning as described by the American Heritage Dictionary is a process of behavior modification in which the likelihood of a specific behavior is increased or decreased through positive or negative reinforcement each time the behavior is exhibited, so that the subject comes to associate the pleasure or displeasure of the reinforcement with the behavior. A subject’s behavior according to B. F. Skinner can be controlled using the operant conditioning method. B. F. Skinner discovered that punishment is one method to reinforce the subject’s behavior in decreasing whatever behavior may follow. There are two types of punishment positive punishment and negative punishment. Positive punishment can be described as adding something to decrease the behavior where negative punishment is described as the removal of something in order to reduce the behavior. B. F. Skinner also discovered that a person’s behavior can be repeated by using reinforcement. There are two types of reinforcements; one is positive which can be described as increasing the probability of a person’s behavior by introducing something favorable. Negative reinforcement B. F. Skinner discovered would be the removal of something to increase the behavior. Another theory of B. F. Skinner is superstition is a learned behavior developed through his own method conditioning. His experiment “Superstition in the Pigeons”, Skinner found that each pigeon would perform a ritual to get food when hungry; in this theory he concluded that the pigeons believed that their ritual was the reason they received food. Thus Skinner concluded that superstitious beliefs can be a result of operant conditioning.
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