Case Study: Skinner's Radical Behaviorism

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Case Study 7- Burrhus Frederic Skinner
Application Questions

1. What motivates our behavior, according to Skinner’s theory? Is it internally or externally motivated? Skinner believes that it is externally motivated and that a reinforcement following a behavior is what is going to strengthen or diminish a behavior.

2. How could Yolanda’s early success in school be explained by radical behaviorism? Her early success is school was in a small school where her teachers always spoke highly of her. When she came home she received more good remarks. Social approval is a form of positive reinforcement and Yolanda certainly received tons of this during her early success in school causing her to repeat the behavior of achieving high grades in classes.

3. How could radical behaviorism explain Yolanda’s dropping out of college? When she entered school there was a larger population. In her classes there were 300 students. She performed well in her classes but never received recognition for it. This lack of recognition was accompanied by a diminished amount of positive reinforcement. Without the reinforcement, Yolanda’s grades began to suffer. She needed the reinforcers so that she could do well in school. The reinforcement of her parents and teachers telling her she does well helps her acquire high grades. Without this reinforcement her grades began to decline until she dropped out.

4. How could Skinner’s theory explain Yolanda’s decision to go back to college? Yolanda went back to college because of cultural evolution. Her culture has held the values to appreciate college and she felt inferior for not being in college. Therefore she decided to go back to college, “partly to demonstrate to the world that African Americans could achieve as much as others”.

5. How could Skinner’s theory explain Yolanda’s success in college the second time in graduate school? Yolanda went to a smaller school closer to home. Therefore, she had all the

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