Summary of B.F. Skinner and Piaget

Topics: Theory of cognitive development, Jean Piaget, Behaviorism Pages: 3 (1059 words) Published: October 18, 2012
B.F. Skinner’s Concept of Verbal Behavior
One of the most influential members of the behaviorist movement, as well as among psychologists who study human development was B.F. Skinner (Diessner, 2008, p. 134). Skinner was notable for his description of the acquisition of new behavior through the use of reinenforcement and punishment called operant conditioning (Diessner, 2008). Skinner also contributed his behaviorist explanation of language development through his concept of verbal behavior (Diessner, 2008).

To Skinner verbal behavior is basically a behavior which is “reinenforced through the mediation of others” (Skinner, 1957, p. 2) and ultimately the speaker by applying controlling variables of operant conditioning principles (Burk, 2009; Diessner, 2008). We use words to express many things such as feeling, emotions, ideas, needs and desires, and how a person communicates depends on the verbal community they are a part of, the “community” which encompasses their socio-economic status (class), religion, job/career, culture, etc. (Burton & Kagan, 1994; Diessner, 2008). Skinner states that a “verbal repertoire” can have similar effects on various listeners due to the speaker who possesses different repertoires which are shaped and maintained by different verbal communities and languages (Diessner, 2008, p. 134). It is also noted by Skinner that verbal behavior does not need an audience, and that a speaker can become a listener as a result reinenforcing his own behavior (Diessner, 2008).

The interaction between language and behavior is emphasized by Skinner in Diessner (2008), in which the speaker is “in contact with a situation to which a listener is disposed to respond” (p. 135), and the verbal response from the speaker allows the listener to respond properly. Even though it is implied by communication theory that the speaker and listener share the same meanings in the messages conveyed, Skinner states that meanings are not the same in the speaker and the...

References: Burk, C. (November, 2009). What is AVB?. Retrieved from
Burton, M., Kagan, C. (1994). The verbal community and the societal construction of consciousness. Behavioral and Social Issues. 4(1&2). (90-91). Retrieved from
Diessner, R. (2008). Classic edition sources: Human development (3rd ed.) Dubuque, IA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
Maranowski, M. (n.d.). Piaget 's theory of conservation: When one cup of water is less than one cup of water. Science Buddies. Retrieved from
Mooney, C. G. (2000). Theories of childhood: An introduction to Dewey Montessori Erickson Piaget & Vygotsky. St. Paul, MN: Red Leaf Press.
Skinner, B.F. (1957). Verbal behavior. New York, NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
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