By: Michelle Lezama B.F. Skinner
Introduction • BurrhusFredericSkinnerwasan American psychologist, inventor, author and poet. • He developedthesystem of operantconditioning and developedhisownscientificphilosophyknown as Radical Behaviorism.
EarlyLife • Skinner was born on March 20, 1904 in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. • His father was a rising young lawyer, his mother a housewife. • His brother died at the age of 16 from a cerebral aneurysm. • During his boyhood, Skinner had a strong passion for building things. • Among his first projects were a cart with steering that worked backwards (by mistake) and a perpetual motion machine (the latter did not work). PerpetualMotion Machine
EarlyLife • Skinner attended Hamilton College in New York and received his BA in English. • He didn’t fit in very well, not enjoying the fraternity parties or the football games. • In addition, he was an atheist in a school that required daily chapel attendance.
FirstInfluences • After graduation, he spent a year at his parents' home in Scranton, attempting to become a writer of fiction. • He soon became disillusioned with his literary skills. • During this time, Skinner discovered the works of behaviorist psychologists like John B. Watson and Ivan Pavlov. • He became especially interested in their system of classical conditioning.
DiscoveringPsychology • After some traveling, he decided to go back to studying and enrolled in Harvard University. • He got his masters in psychology in 1930 and his doctorate in 1931. • He stayed there to do research until 1936. • He then taught at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) and later at Indiana University, where he was chair of the psychology department from 1946–1947. • He returned toHarvard as a tenured professor in 1948 and remained there for the rest of his career
Personal and Mature Life • He met and marriedYvonne Blue in hisyears at theUniversity of Minneapolis. • Theyhad 2 daughters; Julie and Deborah. • On August 18, 1990, B. F. Skinner died of leukemia after becoming perhaps the most celebrated psychologist since Sigmund Freud.
Skinner’sTheory • Skinner was still rebellious and impatient with what he considered unintelligent ideas. • In graduate school, a professor named William Cozier encouraged his ideas and helped him develop his theories. • Skinner started constructing an apparatus to study the behavior of rats. • This cage (later named “Skinner box”) had a bar or pedal on one wall that, when pressed, caused a little mechanism to release a food pellet into the cage. www.youtube.com/watch?v=R37djtako3I&feature=related
Skinner’sTheory • Skinner discovered that the rate with which the rat pressed the bar depended not on any preceding stimulus (as Watson and Pavlov had previously stated), but on what happened after the bar was pressed. • Unlike the reflexes that Pavlov had studied, this kind of behavior operated on the environment and was controlled by its effects. • Skinner named it operant behavior. The process of arranging the contingencies of reinforcement responsible for producing this new kind of behavior he called operant conditioning.
Skinner’sTheoryExpansions • Skinner had to make his own rat pellets, a slow and tedious task. So he decided to reduce the number of reinforcements he gave his rats for whatever behavior he was trying to condition. • The rats kept operant behaviors at a stable rate and this led him to discover “schedules of reinforcement”. • The measured behavior was as regular as a pulse beat and marked the beginning of the science of behavioral analysis.
Skinner’sTheoryExpansions • Schedules of Reinforcement: • The fixed ratio schedule: If the rat pressed the pedal three times he got a goodie. Or five times. Or twenty times. Or “x” times. There is a fixed ratio between behaviors and reinforcers: 3 to 1, 5 to 1, 20 to 1, etc. • The fixed interval schedule uses a timing device of some sort. If the rat pressed the bar at least once during a particular stretch of time (say 20 seconds), then he got a goodie. If he failed to do so, he didn’t get a goodie. But even if he hit that bar a hundred times during that 20 seconds, he still only got one goodie. • Skinner also looked at variable schedules. Variable ratio means you change the “x” each time . First it takes 3 presses to get a goodie, then 10, then 1, then 7 and so on. Variable interval means you keep changing the time period. First 20 seconds, then 5, then 35, then 10 and so on. www.youtube.com/watch?v=rst7dIQ4hL8
Skinner’sTheoryExpansions • After accomplishing the invention of this system, Skinner started asking himself whether he could get more complex sorts of behaviors using this. • He responded with the idea of shaping, or “the method of successive approximations.” • Basically, it involved first reinforcing a behavior only vaguely similar to the one desired. Once that was established, you look out for variations that come a little closer to what you want, and so on, until the animal performed a behavior that would never show up in ordinary life. • Skinner and his students have been successful in teaching simple animals to do some quite extraordinary things. www.youtube.com/watch?v=AepqpTtKbwo
The Big Theory: Radical Behaviorism • Through his different findings and the development of his system known as operant conditioning, Skinner developed a philosophy known as Radical behaviorism. • It underlies the experimental analysis of behavior approach to psychology. • The philosophy emerged during the reign of behaviorism. However, it bears little resemblance to other schools of behaviorism. • It differs in aspects like the acceptance of mediating structures, the role of private events and emotions, and other areas.
RADICAL BEHAVIORISM • It proposes that all actions performed by an organism are determined and not free. • It embraces the genetic and biological endowment and ultimately evolved nature of the organism and brings about a sort of mix between nature and nurture. • It treats everything we do as behavior, including private events such as thinking and feeling.
SignificantInventions • Project Pigeon: • In 1944 World War II was in full swing. Airplanes and bombs were common, but there were no missile guidance systems. • Skinner sought funding for a top secret project to train pigeons to guide bombs. • He trained pigeons to keep pecking a target that would hold a missile onto a target. The pigeons pecked reliably, even when falling rapidly and working with warlike noise all around them. • Project Pigeon was discontinued because a more practical way of guiding missiles was discovered. • Skinner discovered Pigeons behave more rapidly than rats, allowing more rapid discoveries of the effect of new contingencies.
SignificantInventions • Air Crib: • In an effort to help his wife cope with the day to day tasks of child rearing, Skinner thought he might be able to improve upon the standard crib. • He invented the 'air-crib' to meet this challenge. • An 'air-crib‘ is an easily-cleaned, temperature and humidity-controlled box Skinner designed to assist in the raising of babies. • Air-cribs were later commercially manufactured by several companies. Air-cribs of some fashion are still used to this day.
SignificantInventions • Cumulative recorder: • The cumulative recorder is an instrument used to automatically record behavior graphically. • Initially, its graphing mechanism has consisted of a rotating drum of paper equipped with a marking needle. The needle would start at the bottom of the page and the drum would turn the roll of paper horizontally. • Each response would result in the marking needle moving vertically along the paper. This made it possible for the rate of response to be calculated by finding the slope of the graph at a given point. • The cumulative recorder provided a powerful analytical tool for studying schedules of reinforcement.
PublishedBooks • The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis (1938): First book by Skinner. Proposes his theory about operant conditioning. • Walden Two (1948): Perhaps Skinner’s most important book. It modeled a modern utopia were people developed modeling his ideas about operant conditioning. • Science and Human Behavior (1953): A novel about applying science to human affairs. • Verbal Behavior (1957): A merely theoretical book about the study of the behavior with language and linguistics. • Schedules of Reinforcement (1957): A summary of the idea of schedules of reinforcement in operant conditioning.
PublishedBooks • Cumulative Record: A Selection of Papers (1959): Different published articles written by Skinner. Include a wide range of content. • The Analysis of Behavior: A Program for Self Instruction(1961): Teaches the explicit prediction and control of the behavior of people. • The Technology of Teaching (1968) • Contingencies of Reinforcement: A Theoretical Analysis (1969): A significantly theoretical approach to his system of operant conditioning and studying behavior. • Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971): One of his most controversial books. Establishes him as a social inventor and philosopher. The novel makes a connection between his ideas about behaviorism and the conflicts of humans and society. • About Behaviorism (1974): Skinner defines, analyzes and defends his controversial philosophy about behaviorism.
PublishedBooks • Particulars of My Life: Part One of an Autobiography (1976): Skinner’s autobiography since his birth to his acceptance in Harvard University. • Reflections on Behaviorism and Society (1978) • The Shaping of a Behaviorist: Part Two of an Autobiography (1979) • Notebooks (1980): A unique collection of entries that reveal his thoughts, observation and opinions on a wide variety of subjects. • Skinner for the Classroom (1982) • Enjoy Old Age (1983): Skinner deals with the topic of aging and the mature human years. • A Matter of Consequences: Part Three of an Autobiography (1983): Skinners autobiography since his return to Harvard University as a professor. • Upon Further Reflection (1987) • Recent Issues in the Analysis of Behavior (1989): Another collection of papers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-NlINHHKPI&NR=1
Skinner’sLegacy • BurrhusFredericSkinner has come tobeknown as one of themostinfluential and controversial phsychologists in the 20th century. • Hislegacy in thefield of psychology and thestudy of humanbehavior in social and scientificaspectscreatedanentirely new way of viewingthehumanrace and theexistentialphilosophy. • A commontype of therapyused in differentrehabilitation centers and hospitalsisknown as behaviormodification and itisbasedonthe ideas of Skinner. • Skinner’scontributionto verbal behavior has alsohelped in thefield of linguistics and in therapyforautism and other similar disorders.
Awards • 1968 - National Medal of Science from President Lyndon B. Johnson • 1971 - Gold Medal of the American Psychological Foundation • 1972 - Humanist of the Year Award • 1990 - Citation for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology
Bibliography • http://www.bfskinner.org/BFSkinner/AboutSkinner.html • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._F._Skinner#Inventions • http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/skinner.html • http://www.answers.com/topic/b-f-skinner • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radical_behaviorism • http://ww2.lafayette.edu/~allanr/books.htm • http://psychology.about.com/od/profilesofmajorthinkers/p/bio_skinner.htm • http://www.biography.com/articles/BF-Skinner-9485671 • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verbal_Behavior_(book)