Running head: B.F. Skinner and His Influence in Psychology B.F. Skinner and His Influence in Psychology Abstract B.F. Skinner was one of the most influential theorists in modern psychology. His work was very important and has been studied by many for years. Skinner was a very straightforward man and a very educated man. His theories have helped mankind in many ways. He has studied the behavior patterns of many living organisms. Skinner was a well-published writer. His work has been published in many journals. He also has written many books on behaviorism. His most important work was the study of behaviorism. First began by John B. Watson, behaviorism is one of the most widely studied theories today. B.F. Skinner and His Influence in Psychology B.F. Skinner was one of the most famous of the American psychologists. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1904. Skinner was the father of modern behaviorism. Skinner did not get into psychology until he was in graduate school at Harvard. He was driven to Psychology after reading about the experiments of Watson and Pavlov. He received his doctoral degree in three years and taught at the University of Minnesota and the University of Indiana and finally returned to his alma mater at Harvard. Skinner contributed to psychological behaviorism by performing experiments that linked behaviors with terms commonly used to describe mental states. Skinner was responsible for some famous experiments such as the “Skinner box”. Skinner also wrote some very famous books. One of them was “The Behavior of Organisms”. This book describes the basic points of his system. Another was Walden Two. This book describes a utopian society that functions on positive reinforcement. Skinner was a very productive person until his death in 1990 at the age of 86. Behaviorism is a school of thought in psychology that is interested in observable behavior. Skinner said, “Behaviorism is not the science of human behavior; it is the philosophy of that science”(Skinner, 1974). There are various types of behavior, such as innate behavior. Innate behaviors are certain behaviors that we are born with, such as eating when we are hungry and sleeping when we are tired. Early Life Burrhus Frederic Skinner was born in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania on March 20, 1904 to William Arthur and Grace Madge Skinner. Skinner’s home was a warm and stable place. He lived in the house he was born in until he went off to college. Skinner also had a younger brother named Edmond James Skinner, born November 6, 1906. Skinner was very fond of his brother and loved him very much. At the young age of sixteen, Edmond died of a cerebral aneurysm. Skinner was a very inventive young man. He always was making or building things, such as wagons, model airplanes, etc. He also attempted to invent a perpetual motion machine, but it failed. He also read about animals. He collected toads, lizards, and snakes. He trained pigeons to do tricks after he saw them performing one year at a fair. Training the pigeons probably was where he got his ideas of operant conditioning. He attended Susquehanna High School just like his mother and father. In his graduating class there were only eight people including him. He was a very intellectual boy. He reported that he really enjoyed school. Over the four years in high school Skinner became quite good at mathematics and reading Latin, but was weak at science. He made up for it though, because he was always performing physical and chemical experiments while he was at home. His father was an avid book collector. Skinner always had a good library of books around his house. Skinner recalled the little collection of applied psychology journals that his father had bought. Those books could have been the starting point in his psychology career. Skinner grew up in a very religious family. His grandmother often reminded him of the concept of hell. His mother once washed his mouth out...
References: Behaviorism. (1997). The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved April 07,1998 from the World Wide Web: http://www.utm.edu./research/iep/b/behavior.htm Boring, E.G. (1967). A History of Psychology in Autobiography. New York: Irvington Publishers. Retrieved April 07,1998 from the World Wide Web: http://lafayette.edu/allanr/early.html Skinner, B.F. (1974). About Behaviorism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf Press.
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