B.F. SkinnerBehaviorism By: Luz Valladares
Biography • Burrhus Frederic Skinner was born on March 20, 1904, in the small Pennsylvania town of Susquehanna. His father was a lawyer, and his mother a strong and intelligent housewife. • Burrhus was an active, out-going boy who loved the outdoors and building things, and actually enjoyed school. His life was not without its tragedies, however. In particular, his brother died at the age of 16 of a cerebral aneurysm.
Burrhus received his BA in English from Hamilton College in upstate New York. He didn’t fit in very well, and that’s why he couldn’t enjoy the parties or football games. He wrote school papers, including articles critical of the school, the faculty, and even Phi Beta Kappa! To top it off, he was an atheist -- in a school that required daily chapel attendance. • He first wanted to be a writer and he did try it, he wrote some poems and short stories. When he graduated, he built a study in his parents’ attic to concentrate, but it just wasn’t working for him.
Also in that year, he moved to Minneapolis to teach at the University of Minnesota. There he met and soon married Yvonne Blue. They had two daughters, the second of which became famous as the first infant to be raised in one of Skinner’s inventions, the air crib. Although it was nothing more than a combination crib and playpen with glass sides and air conditioning, it looked too much like keeping a baby in an aquarium to catch on.
In 1945, he became the chairman of the psychology department at Indiana University. In 1948, he was invited to come to Harvard, where he remained for the rest of his life. He was a very active man, doing research and guiding hundreds of doctoral candidates as well as writing many books. While not successful as a writer of fiction and poetry, he became one of our best psychology writers, including the book Walden II, which is a fictional account of a community run by his behaviorist principles. • August 18, 1990, B. F. Skinner died of leukemia after becoming perhaps the most celebrated psychologist since Sigmund Freud.
The Aircrib: B.F. Skinner Baby's In a Box • “When we decided to have another child, my wife and I felt that it was time to apply a little labor-saving invention and design to the problems of the nursery. We began by going over the disheartening schedule of the young mother, step by step. We asked only one question: Is this practice important for the physical and psychological health of the baby? When it was not, we marked it for elimination. Then the "gadgeteering" began.” (Skinner)
Skinner build the air crib for his second child that was named Deborah. It was made of safety front glass counter-height crib/changing table, and climate- and humidity-control, the Baby Tender itself was awesome. The idea was a crib that wasn't a cage, but a baby-sized room.
Influences • Charles Darwin was an English naturalist who realized that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors, and published compelling evidence to that effect. He proposed that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection. • Ivan Pavlov was a Russian, and later Soviet, physiologist, psychologist, and physician. Pavlov is widely known for first describing the phenomenon of classical conditioning.
John Watson was an American psychologist who established the psychological school of behaviorism, after doing research on animal behavior. He also conducted the controversial "Little Albert" experiment. Later he went on from psychology to become a popular author on child-rearing, and an acclaimed contributor to the advertising industry. • Edward Lee Thorndikewas an American psychologist who spent nearly his entire career at Teachers College, Columbia University. His work on animal behavior and the learning process led to the theory of connectionism and helped lay the scientific foundation for modern educational psychology. He also worked on solving industrial problems, such as employee exams and testing. He was a member of the board of the Psychological Corporation, and served as president of the American Psychological Association in 1912.
Behaviorism • Is the assumption that humans and animals can be determine by reinforcement. They can acquire new skills by classical or operant conditioning depending of each specie. If the action has a positive outcome the organism will continue to repeat this behavior. If it is a negative outcome the organism will less repeat the behavior.
Operant Conditioning • It describes the effect of the consequences of a particular behavior on the future occurrence of that behavior. • There are four types of Operant Conditioning: Positive Reinforcement, Negative Reinforcement, Punishment, and Extinction. Both Positive and Negative Reinforcement strengthen behavior while both Punishment and Extinction weaken behavior.
Positive Reinforcement • Is a particular behavior is strengthened by the consequence of experiencing a positive condition. • For example: A hungry rat presses a bar in its cage and receives food. The food is a positive condition for the hungry rat. The rat presses the bar again, and again receives food. The rat's behavior of pressing the bar is strengthened by the consequence of receiving food.
Negative Reinforcement • Is a particular behavior is strengthened by the consequence of stopping or avoiding a negative condition. • For example: A rat is placed in a cage and immediately receives a mild electrical shock on its feet. The shock is a negative condition for the rat. The rat presses a bar and the shock stops. The rat receives another shock, presses the bar again, and again the shock stops. The rat's behavior of pressing the bar is strengthened by the consequence of stopping the shock.
Extinction • Is a particular behavior is weakened by the consequence of not experiencing a positive condition or stopping a negative condition. • For example: A rat presses a bar in its cage and nothing happens. Neither a positive or a negative condition exists for the rat. The rat presses the bar again and again nothing happens. The rat's behavior of pressing the bar is weakened by the consequence of not experiencing anything positive or stopping anything negative.
Punishment • Is a particular behavior which is weakened by the consequence of experiencing a negative condition. • For example: A rat presses a bar in its cage and receives a mild electrical shock on its feet. The shock is a negative condition for the rat. The rat presses the bar again and again receives a shock. The rat's behavior of pressing the bar is weakened by the consequence of receiving a shock.
Rules in AnalyzingExamples • The following questions can help in determining whether operant conditioning has occurred. • A. What behavior in the example was increased or decreased? • B. Was the behavior increased (if yes, the process has the be either positive or negative reinforcement), or decreased (if the behavior was decreased the process is either response cost or punishment).
C. What was the consequence / stimulus that followed the behavior in the example? • D. Was the consequence / stimulus added or removed? If added the process was either positive reinforcement or punishment. If it was subtracted, the process was either negative reinforcement or response cost.
OperantConditioning • Other types of response can be measured nose poking at a moving panel, or hopping on a treadle both often used when testing birds rather than rats. And of course all kinds of discriminative stimuli may be used. • http://www.vidoemo.com/yvideo.php?i=SV9jdEpxcWuRpamxySEE&operant-conditioning
Skinner Box • A Skinner box typically contains one or more levers which an animal can press, one or more stimulus lights and one or more places in which reinforcers like food can be delivered. The animal's presses, on the levers it can be detected and recorded and a contingency between these presses, the state of the stimulus lights and the delivery of reinforcement can be set up, all automatically. It deliver punishers like electric shock through the floor of the chamber. • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cl7jr9EVcjI&feature=related
Why Skinner is not a Cognitive Psychologist • The variables of which human behavior is a function lie in the environment. We distinguish between (1) the selective action of that environment during the evolution of the species, (2) its effect in shaping and maintaining the repertoire of behavior which converts each member of the species into a person, and (3) its role as the occasion upon which behavior occurs. Cognitive psychologists study these relations between organism and environment, but they seldom deal with them directly. Instead they invent internal surrogates which become the subject matter of their science.
Skinner Quotes I did not direct my life. I didn't design it. I never made decisions. Things always came up and made them for me. That's what life is. Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten. The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do. Better contraceptives will control population only if people will use them. A nuclear holocaust can be prevented only if the conditions under which nations make war can be changed. The environment will continue to deteriorate until pollution practices are abandoned. We need to make vast changes in human behavior. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971) • He emphasized that he had come to Watson through Russell, and he did not read Russell’s sustained analysis of Watson’s behaviorism (1925) until early in 1928. Daniel Bjork, b.f. skinner, a life, p. 61.
Bibliography • http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/skinner.html • http://www.vidoemo.com/yvideo.php?i=SV9jdEpxcWuRpamxySEE&operant-conditioning • http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/col/behsys/operant.html • http://genetics.biozentrum.uniwuerzburg.de/behavior//learning/SkinnerBox.html • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cl7jr9EVcjI&feature=related • http://www3.niu.edu/acad/psych/Millis/History/2003/cogrev_skinner.htm • http://daddytypes.com/2006/07/25/the_aircrib_bf_skinners_babyinabox.php • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Thorndike • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_B._Watson • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Pavlov • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Darwin • http://skeptically.org/skinner/id9.html