“The Consequences Of Behavior Determine The Probability That The Behavior Will Occur Again”

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“The consequences of behavior determine the probability that the behavior will occur again” - B.F. Skinner. This theme is proven time and time again as Skinner tested his theories with a wide range of subjects. Famous for his research in operant conditioning, Skinner developed a machine designed to show the responses of his tests as a sloped line. Using this device, Skinner discovered that behavior was not dependent upon the preceding action but rather was heavily influenced by the response after. It was upon this basis that Skinner proceeded to expand on these ideas. He formulated a utopia of sorts where Skinner describes the benefits of such an existence. He proposed an end to pollution, overpopulation, and war, just to name a few. According to Skinner, this is all possible through behavioral conditioning; he believed human behavior could be predicted, shaped, and modified. To do this, Skinner believed the best method to be that of “behavioral technology”, a developing science of control that aims to change the environment rather than people, that seeks to alter actions rather than feelings, and shifts a person’s psychology from the world inside them to the world outside them. Central to this idea, Skinner would use a method proven time and time again on laboratory animals: giving rewards for a positive desired outcome. Ultimately the goal is to create an ongoing source of positive change by changing the environment in which individuals live so much so that the majority of people will be influenced enough to commit to changing their own psychology, such as, thinking of others before themselves. This idea is not unlike that of a “hive” mindset. Social structures like this are commonly found in wildlife amongst bees and ants. Members of the community work hard to do their part in the society in which they live for the betterment of all involved. If people were to follow suit with Skinner’s utopia it would certainly solve most dilemmas that people must face as...
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