B.F. Skinner

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Pioneer in Psychology:
B.F. Skinner

Daniel Coxon
Psych 1A
C. Ross

Burrhus Frederick Skinner

Born in 1904 and raised in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, Burrhus Frederick Skinner would become one of the world’s most renowned psychologists. His radical ideas were the premise of his scholarly excellence; he believed that in an experiment, being able to measure and control the variables was more important that simply observing the phenomena being studied. B.F. Skinner was the first to have such ideas, and the first to experiment on his inquiries.

Skinner graduated high school in the same house he grew up in. He was fascinated of how things worked, and loved working with his hands. His early life was dedicated to school and learning new ideas, and started down the path to become a writer. Although this path wasn’t the path he pursued, it got him started into college. Soon after he realized that literature was not his calling, Skinner began to discover the writings of Watson and Pavlov.

The works of John B. Watson focused on behaviorism. He focused mainly on how one’s environment could change the outcome of how one feels or behaves. An example of this is Watson’s study called “Little Albert”. This study was conducted with a subject, an infant named Albert, and a furry, soft white object. The infant first realized that the object was harmless; however when Watson changed the environment by making a loud noise around the soft white object, the infant was conditioned to become frightened by this harmless object. Ivan Pavlov on the other hand studied animals’ behaviors. His example was based on how a dog would salivate when the dinner bell was ringed. Both Watson and Pavlov studied behaviorism based on reaction, which would lead Skinner to his later discoveries.

Unlike Pavlov and Watson, Skinner studied that the effects of what happened post-experiment could affect the organisms learning. He became interested in such ideas after enrolling in the...
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