B.F Skinners Operant Conditioning Theory
Burrhus Frederic Skinner became one of the best known theorists within the 1970’s. He developed a theory known as operant conditioning which was a form of behaviorism (Boeree, 1998). There were many people that were contributors to the development of his theory. Some theorists that were known to impact Skinner were Thorndike, Pavlov and Watson. All three of these men influenced Skinner due to their initial involvement within the behavioral theory. Skinner took a different approach to theorizing behaviorism and concentrated more on the systematic data and did not strain on the theorizing part of his research, like Thorndike did (Hill, 2001, p. 63).
Operant conditioning was introduced in 1938 by the release of Skinners first book called, The Behavior of Organisms (Vargas, 2004, p. 137). However it was not until the 1970s that Skinners research and theory was recognized. Skinners theory evolved from Thorndike’s behavior theory of reinforcement to control behavior but did not use “trial and error” as an explanation (Vargas, 2004, p. 137). There were two main learning concepts that were found to be the main focus of Skinners theory. Skinner believed that respondent behavior and operant behavior were the two main types of learning (Hill, 2001, p. 64). Respondent learning behavior is known to be brought on by specific stimuli that will reinforce behavioral patterns. The second learning behavior, operant behavior, is known to be brought on by the outcomes and consequences that occur with certain behavior which can be negative or positive (Hill, 2001, p. 64). This theory is an outcome of Skinners perception and explanation of behaviorism through his research and findings. This theory is used within learning instruction by helping prevent and suppress undesirable behavior from students and replace it with desirable behavior by using reinforcements (Boeree, 1998).
Many events within Skinners life influenced his research and...
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