Psychologist Bio: Bf Skinner Essay

Submitted By TylerDawson69
Words: 1312
Pages: 6

Tyler Dawson

Ap Psyche, Period 5

Ms. Samperio

Summer Work
1 August 2013

Burrhus Frederic Skinner, commonly know as "B. F." Skinner, was born in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. His parents were William and Grace Skinner and he had brother but at the age of sixteen he died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Two years prior to his brothers tragic passing, a Christian teacher tried to make his grandmothers vision of hell less intense and therefore Skinner became an atheist. While attending Harvard in 1926, he developed what some may call his greatest invention: The Skinner Box. Perhaps Skinners greatest influence was his encounter with John B. Watson's famous book Behaviorism. Reading this novel led him into graduate study in psychology and to the development of his own operant behaviorism. He has been called evil, hateful, but on the contrary has been described as warm and enthusiastic, especially when it came to his work. He died August 18, 1990 at the ripe old age of 86 from Leukemia. He is survived by the two children Julie and Deborah, both he had with his wife Yvonne Blue, whom he married in 1936. Growing up, Skinner didn’t really know what he wanted to do with his life. He received his B.A. in English literature in 1926 and for years, which he referred to as the “Dark Years,” he tried to write an amazing novel while still living under his parents roof. Even though he received encouragement from Robert Frost, one of the greatest writers of all time, he still didn’t believe in his literary genius. He concluded that he had little world experience and no strong personal perspective from which to write. After discovering John B. Watson’s renowned book Behaviorism, he turned his mind on to the idea of psychology. Skinner received a PhD from Harvard in 1931, and remained there as a researcher until 1936. After his 5 year stint as a researcher he became a teacher. His first job as a teacher was at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis, his second came later at Indiana University, where he was chair of the psychology department from 1946–1947. There must have been something awe inspiring about Harvard because in 1948 he returned to his alma mater as a tenured professor and remained there for the rest of his life. Skinners work as a psychologist was mostly in the field of what is known as radical behaviorism: the philosophy of the science of behavior. Radical behaviorism basically seeks to understand behavior as a function of environmental histories and also of reinforcing consequences. An example of this would be the applied behavior analysis. This field of behaviorism made Skinner lie on the opposite side of the spectrum in the field of psychological science, which is why it was considered by most to be so radical. Unlike less strict behaviorism, it does not accept events that are preformed in private such as thinking, perceptions, and unobservable emotions. Skinner proposed that humans have no free will or dignity, one of the 21 novels he published was titled Beyond Freedom and Dignity. He believed that human free will was actually nothing more than an illusion. He concluded that any human action was the result of the consequences of that action, for instance if the consequences were bad, there was a high chance that the action would not be repeated but if the consequences were good, whatever actions you used to receive the reward would be reinforced and repeated. He called this the principle of reinforcement. Reinforcement is very key in understanding Skinners work because it is a central concept in Behaviorism. It is also seen as a central mechanism in the shaping and control of behavior. Something that is commonly misconceived is that negative reinforcement goes hand in hand with punishment. To try and make things more clear, while positive reinforcement is the strengthening of behavior by the application of some good thing, such as your parents telling you “Good Job!” when you get an A on a test,