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Skinner Essay

1717 words - 7 pages

According to Gewirtz and Peláez-Nogueras (1992), “B. F. Skinner contributed a great deal to advancing an understanding of basic psychological processes and to the applications of science-based interventions to problems of individual and social importance.” He contributed to “human and nonhuman behavior, including human behavioral development, and to various segments of the life span, including human infancy” (p. 1411). One of Skinner's greatest scientific discoveries was “single reinforcement” which became sufficient for “operant conditioning, the role of extinction in the discovery of intermittent schedules, the development of the method of shaping by successive approximation, and Skinner's break with and rejection of stimulus-response psychology” (Iversen, 1992, p. 1318).
According to Skinner’s theories, “Reinforcement does not strengthen the response instance that produces the reinforcer.” Rather, reinforcement can increase the likelihood that a comparable response may occur within the future. For one bottom-line, “behavior is not caused by something that has not yet happened.” Similar to operant conditioning, “the emission of a response reflects past conditioning, so the response occurs because similar responses were reinforced earlier, not because it will be reinforced later.” Skinner agreed that the “initial high response rate seen in extinction sessions exemplified this important aspect of operant conditioning” (Iversen, 1992, pp. 1325-1327). Theoretically, Skinner identified two aspects of reinforcement, one is the “pleasing effect of reinforcing stimuli, the other is their strengthening action.” Furthermore, Skinner emphasized that “feeling pleased by an event does not necessarily make a person want to repeat the response that brought it about” (Overskeid, 2012, p. 125).

The aims and objectives of this paper are to discuss the classic behavioristic principles of psychology, developed by Skinner, who he formed his theory on human behavior. His theories have been continually expanded and applied in many practical areas in psychology and society today. This paper focuses on Skinner’s legacy by examining contemporary applications of his ideas of reinforcement learning. The introduction has demonstrated the origins and influences of both reinforcement and behavioral therapy Skinner In this case, we first discuss about the modern-day applications of reinforcement learning in education. Second, we will discuss about the modern-day applications of reinforcement learning in behavior therapy. Lastly, an overall conclusion will be provided to discuss about how Skinners theory of human behavior and how it influenced and evolved reinforcement learning in both education and behavior therapy today.

Modern-day applications of Reinforcement learning in Education

Originally, reinforcement learning was motivated by “animal learning of sequential behavior, but has been developed and extended in the field of machine learning as an approach to Markov...

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