Is Conceptual Critiques Relevant For Psychology?

1822 words - 7 pages

We shall consider Skinner’s Operant Conditioning theory as another type of example on Conceptual Critiques (Skinner, 1963). His theory states that the best way to understand a behavior is to look at the association made between the behavior and the consequence of that behavior. Although Skinner’s primary interest was in human behavior, most of his research was done on animals using laboratory apparatus well known as the Skinner box.
Hence, in his experiment, Skinner placed rats in the Skinner box and observed its’ behaviors. Initially, these rats would be randomly moving around exploring, and would usually press the bar accidently. At this point, a food pellet would drop into the tray. He observed that if a hungry rat receives a pellet of food when it presses a lever after, maybe 2 minutes have elapsed since the last pellet, then its response rate increases with the passage of time. In other words, after the first incident of the food pellet dropping into the tray, the rate of the rats pressing the bar rises dramatically and remains high until the rats hunger were satisfied. Thus, this study showed a clear association made between the behavior and the consequence of that behavior. In this case, the consequence of a behavior encouraged the repetition of that behavior also known as positive reinforcement.
On the other hand, Anderson, Bothell, Byrne, Douglass, and Lebiere (2004), commented that Skinner did not show interest on why the organism behaved in this way and instead he was satisfied with knowing what kind of behavior could be expected from various organisms including humans when given a fixed-interval schedule. This comment is a misleading distortion as it overlooks Skinner’s efforts to explain the gradual increase in response rate. Moreover, Ferster and Skinner (1957), improved on some explanations such as the cuing function of the pellet itself, the discriminative properties of the number of responses produced during the interval, and the conditioning of changes in response rate instead of single responses. Although they seem to be cruel today, these attempts definitely qualify as an interest in understanding of a behavior.
Skinner’s theory is again another example of the ignorance of Conceptual Critiques. Even though, his theory addresses a particular issue, the other party might tend to misinterpret that, it does not. This is due to unstated chains of inferences, which were vital assumptions in the theory. If Skinner did not disregard the Conceptual Critiques, and clearly stated his inferences, his theory wouldn’t have been questionable by future Psychologist and instead would have been a solid foundation for the understanding a behavior. Hence, I would like to emphasize that Psychologist should not overlook Conceptual Critiques in their theoretical works as it in fact, helps their theory to be stronger and reliable.
Thirdly, we shall consider the Piaget’s Child Development theory as another type of example on Conceptual...

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