Compare and contrast how Skinner and Harlow have used non-human animals in behavioural research.
In the following essay I will compare and contrast the works of both Harlow and Skinner when looking into behavior and how both used non-human animals in their research. Harlow was born on 31st October 1905 and named Harry Frederic Israel. His parents were Mabel Rock and Alonzo Harlow Israel and he was the second youngest of four boys. Harlow became an American Psychologist after he achieved his PhD in 1930 and changed his name from Israel to Harlow. Burrhus Frederic Skinner was born on 20th March 1904. He grew up with one brother. His father had his own law firm and his mother was a housewife. Skinner was an American psychologist who accomplished his PhD in 1931 and became Professor of Psychology at Harvard University in 1958.
Both studied non-human animals and they both made the assumptions that the work they were investigating applied across different species. They differed in the explanations they gave for the behaviour they were investigating, but both concluded their findings could also be correlated to the behaviour of humans. I will discuss some of the similarities and differences and I will also consider the extent to which they were able to speculate their findings across animal species.
Comparing Works of Skinner and Harlow
To state the obvious Both Skinner and Harlow conducted experiments with non-human animals, skinners preferred animal species to study were rats and pigeons where as Harlow most famous theory revolved around the experimental research of rhesus monkeys.
Skinner pursued the foundation of behaviourism (also referred to as stimulus-response psychology), which suggested that psychology should only study observable, measurable behaviour. Skinner investigated the observable processes of learning. Learning is said to occur as a result of associations being made between stimulus and responses that didn’t exist before learning takes place. “Conditioning” is a term that is used to describe associative learning. There were several influences on the academic career of skinner, Ivan Pavlov a Russian scientist, john Watson an American psychologist and Edward Thorndike all played a part in how and why skinner conducted his experiments.
Skinners main interests insist of the behaviour of both animals and humans. In this work, the focus was on operant conditioning theory of reinforcement, which is considered one of the most influential theories of learning. This theory explains the voluntary conduct of the body in relation to the environment based on a method experimentally. This means that before a stimulus, there is a voluntary response, which can be strengthened positively or negatively causing operant behaviour strengthened or weakened. It is always a contingent relationship.
Skinner also considers learning by punishment and extinction of the reinforcements, as influencing behaviour. To illustrate this, we describe one of the experiments conducted by Skinner himself, called the "Skinner Box" Which contained a lever or a key. “The desired behaviour was for the rat to press the lever, or the pigeon to press a key and they would be rewarded with a pellet of food. “(Skinners box pg. 161)”.
Where as Harry F. Harlow is best known for his maternal-separation, dependency needs, and social isolation experiments on rhesus monkeys, which demonstrated the importance of care giving and companionship in social and cognitive development. He conducted most of his research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow worked for a great time with him. Harlow’s theory focused on the human behaviour over the advancement of the social behaviour of the monkeys. His experiments consist of isolation of young rhesus monkeys, which exposes the importance of coaching in the early development of primates. Harlow's experiments were controversial; they included rearing infant...
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