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B.F. Skinner And His Three Famous Ideas In Psychology

1534 words - 7 pages

B.F. Skinner has been known as one of the most influential psychologists to date. Not only did his popularity grow because of his writings and ideas, but many other psychologists use his ideas in their writings as well (O’Donohue, Ferguson, 2001). Countless psychologists were interested in Skinners theories and ideas, which is why he is so popular still today. Skinner had many ideas in the world of psychology, but what most famous for his ideas of radical behaviorism, operant conditioning, and positive and negative reinforcement. B.F. Skinner looked at behaviorism as operant conditioning. He believed that every human and animal action or behavior had a subsequent consequence. After receiving this consequence following a particular behavior, the human or animal would decide whether or not that behavior should be repeated or not. Skinner did not come up with this concept on his own, but learned it from a psychologist named John B. Watson. While Watson’s ideas of radical behaviorism were very prevalent during the early 1900’s, in due course it lost a lot of its popularity. Shortly after the downfall of Watson’s B.F. Skinner created his own adaptation of behaviorism. Skinners adaptation of behaviorism almost instantly went viral. The influence this aspect of psychology had on people was substantially higher than the influence that Watson’s rendition had (Mowrer, 2001, p. 4). This was the birth of B.F. Skinner’s rising popularity in the psychology world.
Burrhus Frederic Skinner was born on March 20, 1904, in a small quaint town in Pennsylvania called Susquehanna (O’Donohue, Ferguson, 2001). Growing up, Skinner lived a relatively happy and healthy life with a close-knit family. The Skinner family were of middle class and were somewhat religious Presbyterians. Skinners father worked as a lawyer in a legal private practice as well as for the Erie Railroad. Skinner’s mother stayed at home to care for the children, but Skinner would describe her as “bright and beautiful.” She was also very stern with her children, and wanted them to succeed in everything they set their minds to. Throughout his childhood, Skinner had many hobbies and always kept busy reading books, taking part in many outdoor activities, and building mechanical objects. Not only was Skinner highly involved in extracurricular activities, but he was highly successful in school as well. Following high school, B.F. Skinner went on to study English at Hamilton College in upstate New York. In 1926 Skinner graduated from Hamilton and was ready to begin his professional writing career. His first book was not successful therefore he decided he no longer wanted to continue with something he didn’t feel accomplished in. Skinner constantly criticize himself and was a firm believer in perfection. This is when Skinner decided he wanted to go into the field of Psychology (O’Donohue, Ferguson, 2001).
Skinner went on to graduate school at Harvard University. His interests in...

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