The Theories Of B.F. Skinner Essay

1036 words - 4 pages

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The Theories of B.F. Skinner4/20/06Psy 250The Theories of B.F. SkinnerMany theorists have presented their theory of personality in attempts to either explain their own personal lives or to describe the effects that genetics and the environment have in personality. Countless debates have risen over the actual cause of people's actions. Is it parental upbringing, genetic traits, unconscious forces or simply responses to stimuli? In this paper I am going to investigate B.F. Skinner and his views and philosophy on behaviorism and his approach to behavior therapy.B.F. Skinner was born Burrhus Frederic Skinner in a small railroad town in northeastern Pennsylvania. His childhood was spent in a warm, stable family environment. His father was a lawyer and his mother, according to Skinner, was rigid with high moral standards. She would quickly take alarm if he showed any deviation from what was "right" according to her societal standards, and would ask him "what would people think"? Growing up, Skinner was an avid builder of things; he even built a gadget that confronted him with a sign in his bedroom closet whenever he forgot to hang up his clothes. His focus in life had always stemmed from literary and artistic interests. He had a brother who was two and a half years younger and was into sports and social activities. At 16, he died suddenly of a cerebral aneurysm; Skinner has described his thoughts about his brother's death as being "not much moved". The most important figure in Skinner's life was a schoolteacher named Mary Graves. Miss Graves was responsible for Skinner's English literature major and his career as a writer.Behavior therapy, unlike other theories, is not closely identified with any single person. It has several important proponents. (B.F.. Skinner...An Autobiography) However, it was Skinner's creative ideas that allowed the behavioral approach to grow into a major influence in psychology and give behavioral therapy a solid platform. Behaviorism is a viewed based on naturalism, which gives implication that all behaviors are caused by factors outside of themselves (Weiten, 10). The philosophy of naturalism is that the world is made up of physical matter and energy. Behaviors are viewed as caused by events in the environment, and human qualities such as "mind" and "unconscious" are non-existent. In addition to behaviorism, experimental research on the psychology of learning also contributed to the development of behavior therapy. (Weiten 1998)Skinner is most noted for his contribution to psychology from his experiment with rats and pigeons in a dramatic display revealed through reinforcement. What we know of today as the Skinner box, started off as a study of learning habits. Through reinforcement Skinner conditioned pigeons to learn to play ping-pong. Eventually, Skinner's studies were also transported to human learning. Skinner wanted to prove that the dignity of human kind could simply be viewed as products of...

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