Saturday, December 26, 2015

Burrhus Frederic Skinner (1904-1990)

Perhaps the most recognized behaviorist in the history of the psychological learning theory movement was Burrhus Frederic Skinner. B. F. Skinner was born in northeastern Pennsylvania in 1904. He continued to write and work until his death on August 18, 1990.

Skinner grew up in a strict Presbyterian home, but rejected the Christian faith as a teenager.

Skinner studied English and classics at Hamilton College where he received his AB (1926) in literature. He intending to be a writer but in 1927 after reading Watson and the philosopher Bertrand Russell, Skinner enrolled at Harvard, earning his MA in 1930 and his PhD under E.G. Boring in 1931.

Following teaching stints at the University of Minnesota and Indiana University, Skinner returned to Harvard in 1948 where he finished his career in 1974.

Regarded as a classic, his dissertation reflected his theory that a reflect arc, a then widely debated concept, was nothing more than the relationship between a stimulus and a response. He argued that all behavior in fact could be explained by looking at the stimuli that result in its occurrence.

Skinner is considered by many to the most important figure in 20th century psychology. B.F. Skinner advanced the controversial psychological theories of behaviorism and operant conditioning, which propounded the control of behaviors through consequences particularly positive consequences.

Skinner was committed to a descriptive science of behavior; that is, a non-theoretical science of behavior, something akin more to engineering than to a form of theoretical physics. He was interested in how to build behavior into a system and show to predict and control that behavior.
Burrhus Frederic Skinner (1904-1990)

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