Operant Conditioning

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Personality Development & Operant Conditioning
Theories of Personality II

Ana Iqbal Mirajkar

Learning can be defined as any process that leads to a relatively permanent and potential change in behaviour. The term behaviorism refers to the school of psychology founded by John B. Watson based on the belief that behaviors can be measured, trained, and changed. Behavioural theories are all based upon the idea that all behaviours are acquired through conditioning. It is highly objective and focuses on the notion that only observable behaviour should be studied. Ivan Pavlov, B. F. Skinner, Edward, Thorndike, John B. Watson and Clark Hull are major thinkers of this school of thought. B.F. Skinner, a pioneer in behaviorism, invented a mechanical device for automatically recording fine differences in the rate of response. He was one of the pioneers of automation in behavioral research: responses could be detected, recorded and followed up with reinforcements, all by automatic apparatus. Operant conditioning is a concept also developed by B.F. Skinner, who said “Psychology is about behavior, not about the mind, and not about the nervous system. It deals only with variables that can be directly observed.” He emphasized on the role of reinforcement and punishment in shaping behavior and came up with the schedules of reinforcement. Plus, rather than focusing on things that occur before a response he focused on the idea that the events following a response had a great influence on its subsequent rate of occurrence. Operant conditioning can be defined as that if a response (the operant, which is an active behavior that operates upon the environment to generate consequences) is followed by a reinforcing stimulus, the response strength is increased. For instance, every time a child studies well he is rewarded with gifts, according to Skinner, this rewarded response (studying) will be strengthened and increased. B.F Skinner demonstrated that humans and animals alike tend...
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