Burrhus Frederic Skinner
Burrhus Frederic Skinner is known for his contributions to the field of behaviorism. B.F. Skinner was influenced by different psychologists, to further develop the field of behaviorism. Skinner made many contributions to behaviorism, and even though behaviorism is no longer the dominant school of thought, many of its techniques are still being used today, such as operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is used by mental professionals, teachers, and animal trainersamong others. BF Skinner was one of the greatest contributors to the field of psychology, for his work with behaviorism, and operant conditioning.B.F. Skinner was born on arch !", #$"% in Susquehanna, &ennsylvania. Skinner attended 'amilton (ollege, and graduated with a Bachelor of )rts in *nglish +iterature in #$! -(herry. )fter graduating Skinner moved to /reenwich 0illage in 1ew 2ork, and soon reali3ed that his career as a writer wasn4t going as planned. 'e soon began reading articles on behaviorism and conditioned refle5es writing by Bertrand 6ussell, 7ohn B. 8atson, and Ivan &etrovich &avlov, respectively. 8ith his new found interest in psychology, Skinner began studying psychology at 'arvard 9niversity, and graduated with a &h.:. in #$;#. In #$;, Skinner married 2vonne Blue and began teaching at the 9niversity of innesota in inneapolis.:uring his stay in inneapolis, Skinner wrote his first book,
The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis
, in #$;< -*ncyclop=dia Britannica. Seven years later, B.F. Skinner became the chair of the psychology department for the 9niversity of Indiana. )fter three years, in #$%<, Skinner returned to 'arvard 9niversity, where he spent the rest of his life as a professor.In #$%<, he also wrote
, one of his most controversial novels. 2vonne Blue and B.F.
One of the best psychology research paper topics is behaviorism, a school of psychology which seeks to explain animal and human behavior entirely in terms of observable and measurable responses to environmental stimuli.
Behaviorism explains animal and human behavior. (Credit: Brandmaster)
And Questia, your online research library and paper writing resource, contains thousands of scholarly articles and books on the topic.
Beginning of behaviorism
According to The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th edition, the school of psychology known as behaviorism was introduced in 1913 by the American psychologist John Broadus Watson. Born in Greenville, S.C., in 1878, he taught at the University of Chicago from 1903 to 1908 and was professor and director of the psychological laboratory at Johns Hopkins from 1908 to 1920.
Watson emphasized the study of observable behavior, rejecting introspection and theories of the unconscious mind. He insisted that behavior is a physiological reaction to environmental stimuli. His writings include Psychology from the Standpoint of a Behaviorist (1919, reprinted 1983), Behaviorism (1925, reprinted 1970), and Psychological Care of Infant and Child (1928, reprinted 1972).
Influence on Skinner
Watson’s work influenced Burrhus Frederic (B. F.) Skinner in his groundbreaking studies of operant conditioning, and had a major impact on the development of behavior therapy.
Skinner, 1904–90, was born in Susquehanna, Pa. The American psychologist received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1931, and remained there as an instructor until 1936, when he moved to the University of Minnesota (1937–45) and to Indiana University, where he was chairman of the psychology department (1945–48). He returned to Harvard in 1948, becoming the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology in 1958.
Skinner was the leading exponent of behaviorism. Like other behaviorists, he rejected unobservable phenomena of the sort that other forms of psychology, particularly psychoanalysis, had studied, concerning himself only with patterns of responses to rewards and stimuli. Skinner maintained that learning occurred as a result of the organism responding to, or operating on, its environment, and coined the term operant conditioning to describe this phenomenon. He did extensive research with animals, notably rats and pigeons, and invented the famous Skinner box, in which a rat learns to press a lever in order to obtain food. Skinner’s more well-known published works include The Behavior of Organisms (1938), Walden Two (1948), Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971), and About Behaviorism (1974, reprinted 1976).
Pavlov and Thorndike
The conditioned-reflex experiments of the Russian physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov and the American psychologist Edward Lee Thorndike were also central to the development of behaviorism.
Pavlov, 1849–1936, was a Russian physiologist and experimental psychologist. He was professor at the military medical academy and director of the physiology department at the Institute for Experimental Medicine, St. Petersburg, from 1890. He was also a skillful ambidextrous surgeon.
Using dogs as experimental animals, Pavlov established fistulas from various parts of the digestive tract by which he obtained secretions of the salivary glands, pancreas, and liver without disturbing the nerve and blood supply. For his work on the physiology of the digestive glands he received the 1904 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Using the same technique to create an artificial exterior pouch of the stomach, he experimented on nervous stimulation of gastric secretions and thus discovered the conditioned reflex, which has had widespread influence in neurology and psychology.
Pavlov also demonstrated that specific areas in the cerebral cortex are concerned with specific reflexes and based on these findings a mechanistic theory of human behavior that found political favor. In 1935 the government built a laboratory for him. His chief work was Conditioned Reflexes (1926, translated 1927).
Thorndike, 1874–1949, was an American educator and psychologist. Born in Williamsburg, Mass., he graduated from Wesleyan University in 1895, received his Masters from Harvard in 1896, and got his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1898. Appointed instructor in genetic psychology at Teachers College, Columbia, in 1899, he served there until 1940 (as professor from 1904 and as director of the division of psychology of the Institute of Educational Research from 1922).
Thorndike’s great contributions to educational psychology were largely in the methods he devised to test and measure children’s intelligence and their ability to learn. He conducted studies in animal psychology and the psychology of learning, and compiled dictionaries for children (1935) and for young adults (1941). The great number of his writings includes Educational Psychology (1903), Mental and Social Measurements (1904), Animal Intelligence (1911), A Teacher’s Word Book (1921), Your City (1939), and Human Nature and the Social Order (1940).
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