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Biography Of Burrhus Frederic Skinner Essay

1647 words - 7 pages


Burrhus Frederic Skinner

Burrhus Frederic Skinner was born in a small town called Susquehanna, Pennsylvania on March 20, 1904. His dad was a lawyer and his mom was a house wife. Skinner was the typical boy, he enjoyed playing outside and to build things. He created many inventions as a kid. He and a friend made a cabin in the woods and Skinner created a cart with backwards steering. When working for a shoe store he thought of and invention that helped the broom pick up dust. Skinner also invented a flotation system for a door to door business that would sell berries. The flotation system separated the ripe berries from the bad. Skinner also enjoyed school very much. He even dedicated a book later in life to his English teacher Miss Graves. Skinner did not have a tragic childhood it was fairly easy. The only tragedy was that younger brother died at sixteen from a cerebral aneurysm.
Skinner was an atheist who attended college at Hamilton College to get his bachelor’s degree in English. Hamilton College was a school where students would attend daily masses. Not the place you would think an atheist would choose. To make Skinner even more different than his peers he did not enjoy the typical college activities. He avoided going to football games fraternity parties, instead he enjoyed writing for the school newspaper. The stories he wrote were acute of the school, its faculty, and a frat house. This did not make him the most popular guy on campus. Skinner wanted to be a writer. He would send out stories and poetry trying to get published. He took over his parent’s attic to create a study for himself to help him write. But that plan did not work so he tried moving to New York. He worked in a bookstore there and in that store he read stories about Pavlov and Watson. This is where his love for psychology came from. He decided to go back to school and study Psychology.
This time Skinner went to Harvard to get a degree in Psychology. Skinner who was a twenty-four year old who was rebellious and impatient when it came to what he thought were unintelligent ideas found a mentor in William Crozier. Crozier was the new chair of the Physiology department and Skinner thought he was as intelligent and hard driven as himself. Crozier let Skinner study the behavior of the animal as a whole including what was going on the inside, which is what Skinner wanted. Skinner wanted to relate the behavior to the conditions of the experiment. Crozier encouraged Skinner to experiment. Every time the Skinner’s rat’s behavior changed he would build a new apparatus for them. This is where he discovered what he named operant conditioning. As he studied the rat’s he discovered that the rate at which they pressed a bar down depended on what happened afterwards. This was the opposite of Pavlov and Watson’s theories who talked about the reaction happening because of stimulates beforehand. In 1936 Skinner received his Doctorate in Psychology and moved to Minnesota to teach at the...

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