Burrhus Frederic Skinner
People do on a day to day basis, many actions without realizing it, and most of the time, they don’t know why they do them. Certain reinforcements, some positive, and some negative have conditioned their actions and thoughts. All organisms, including humans, are greatly influenced by the consequences produced by their own behavior. The environment holds the key to most of the changes that occur in the way a person behaves and a human’s own behavior brings consequences that change his or her actions (B. F. Skinner). Dr. B.F. Skinner forged the theory of Behaviorism, “a school of psychology that rejects the unobservable and focuses on patterns of responses to external rewards and stimuli” (Skinner, B. F.).
Burrhus Frederic Skinner was born March 20, 1904, and raised in Susquehana,
Pennsylvania, where his father worked as a lawyer and his mother was a strong and intelligent housewife (Boeree). Skinner’s parents encouraged him in his schoolwork, and he was well read as a child (B. F. Skinner). B. F. was “an active, out-going boy who loved the outdoors and building things, and actually enjoyed school” (Boeree). He enjoyed literature and biology especially (B. F. Skinner). Skinner attended Hamilton College in New York State (R. W. Kentridge). “He didn’t fit in very well, not enjoying the fraternity parties or the football games. He wrote for school paper, including articles
critical of the school, the faculty, and even Phi Beta Kappa! To top it off, he was an atheist – in a school that required daily chapel attendance” (Boeree). He continued to read widely and to pursue interests in literature and biology. He began to write a lot of fiction and poetry, and became known as an aspiring poet. After his junior year, he attended the Summer School of English at Breadloaf, where he met Robert Frost (B. F. Skinner). When he graduated, “he planned to spend a year writing a novel, but found that he had nothing to write about and suffered through what he would later refer to his ‘dark year’”. Skinner considered pursuing graduate study in English, but eventually settled on psychology instead. “The choice of psychology followed Skinner’s realization that what intrigued him about literature was actually human behavior, a topic he felt could be approached more suitably through science” (B. F. Skinner). The writings of Frances Bacon had interested since eighth grade. “In reading Bacon, Skinner
had been exposed to a view of science that emphasized observation, classification,
the gradual inductive establishment of laws, and the avoidance of hasty
overgeneralization and metaphysical Ernst Mach, an Austrian scientist and the
author of Science of Mechanics, which served as a model for Skinner’s doctoral
dissertation and as the chief basis for his own positivistic view of science” (B. F. Skinner).
He got his masters in psychology in 1930 and his doctorate in 1931, and stayed there to do research until 1936. In 1945, Skinner...