Behavioral Theorists:Skinner and Watson By: Francy Lopez & Alex Sparacino
The Behavioral Learning Theory • A theory that focuses on objectively observable behaviors and discounts any independent activities of the mind. • Theorists define learning as nothing more than acquiring new behavior based on environmental factors.
John B. Watson(1878-1958) • Was born in Greenvile, South Carolina to Emma and Pickens Watson. • Graduated from Furman University in 1899. • Received his doctorate in 1903 from the University of Chicago. • Majored in psychology and minored in philosophy and neurology. • Became an associate professor of psychology at John Hopkins University. • Published the article, “Psychology as the Behaviorists Views It” in 1914. • Became the President of the American Psychological Association. • Published the “Little Albert experiment in 1920. • Died in Connecticut in 1958.
Behaviorism • Watson proposed an idea of objective study of behavior (behaviorism) • Saw psychology was the study of peoples actions and the ability to predict and control the actions. • Behaviorism assumes that behavior is observable and can be correlated with other observable events. • The goal is to explain relationships between conditions, behavior and consequences. • His view of behaviorism was considered radical.
“Little Albert” • Took a child named Albert from an orphanage. • Wanted to determine if a loud sound would cause a fear response in Albert. • Albert was placed in a blank room • An experimenter stood behind him and made a loud noise by striking a hammer on a steel bar. • First Trial: • Albert was startled and raised up his hands. • Second Trial: • Albert began to tremble • Third Trial: • Albert was crying and having a fit. • At 9 months old Albert was introduced to a white rat, rabbit, dog, monkey, masks without hair, and more things. • He showed no signs of fear when introduced to those things. • At 11months he was represented with the white rat. • Each time he would reach out to touch something the bar would be struck. • The first time he was shocked but the second time he started to cry. • A week later he was shown the rat again. • Did not reach for it immediately. • Rat was placed closer; Albert reached for it but then snatched his hand away. • Rat was presented again and Albert cried at the sight of the rat.. • Watson did this experiment many more times with different objects and animals. • Each time Albert showed the same response to the objects/animals. • Watson had accomplished conditioning a fear into Albert.
Burrhus Frederic Skinner- B. F. Skinner(1904-1990) • Born on March 20, 1904 in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. • Received his BA in English from Hamilton College in upstate New York. • Went back to school at Harvard when he got his masters in psychology in 1930, and his doctorate in 1931. • Stayed there to do research until 1936. • Taught at the University of Minnesota. • Became chairman of the psychology department at Indian University in 1945. • Went back to Harvard in 1948 to teach and stayed there for the rest of his life. • Wrote the book Walden II • Died on August 18, 1990 of leukemia.
Operant Conditioning • Operant conditioning is a process of behavior modification in which a subject is encouraged to behave in a desired manner through positive or negative reinforcement, so that the subject comes to associate the pleasure or displeasure of the reinforcement with the behavior. • Skinners whole system was based on operant conditioning. • Operant conditioning has four parts: • Positive Reinforcement- a behavior is strengthened by the consequence of experiencing something positive. • Negative Reinforcement- a behavior is weakened by the consequence of experiencing a negative condition. • Extinction- a behavior is weakened by the consequence of not experiencing a positive or negative condition.
The “Skinner Box”(Operant Conditioning Chamber) • Skinner was very interested in stimulus-response reactions of humans to different situations. • Invented the Skinner Box to test these theories. • Used pigeons and rats. • The Skinner Box: • Contained one or more levers which an animal can press • Contained one or more stimulus lights. • Contained one or more places in which reinforces (food) can be delivered. • Can also deliver punishers like an electric shock • The box can measure the animals presses on the levers • Can also measure nose-poking and hopping (used with birds). A Skinner Box
“Skinner Box” Experiments • Skinner did many experiments with the Skinner Box. • Rats experiment: • The rat would be in the box and each time the rat pushed a lever, they would be rewarded with a pellet of food. • If the rat took to long they would be shocked by an electric field at the bottom of the box. • The rat learned that each time they pushed the lever they would be rewarded for their action. • Pigeon experiment: • The pigeon was almost the same as the rats experiment but they had a few different things. • The box had a food pellet delivery chute that dropped a pellet of food at completely random times. • They pigeons began to do the behaviors that they were doing before the food came down more often. • The next time, whatever action they were doing before the food came they did more of. • They would be constantly checking the food chute.
Similarities Both were behavioral theorists. Believed that people were born as blank slates. Thought psychology should be studied as though people did not have a mind. Wanted scientists to focus on the way people learned connections between stimuli and responses. Differences Watson was classical conditioning while Skinner was operant conditioning. Watson used a human in his experiments while Skinner used animals. Watson was the invented behaviorism while Skinner just followed in his footsteps. Watson had no reinforcements while Skinner did. Watson VS. Skinner
Bibliography • http://www.muskingum.edu/~psych/psycweb/history/watson.htm • http://www.psychology.sbc.edu/Little%20Albert.htm • http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/skinner.html • http://www.juliantrubin.com/bigten/skinnerbox.html