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B.F. Skinner

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Born in 1904, American Psychologist B. F. Skinner made important contributions to the field of Psychology, in particular to the way we view behavior. Attending Hamiton College, and then Harvard College for a Ph.D., Skinner’s contributions changed the field of psychology with his theory of operant conditioning. The theory holds that when a behavior is followed by a consequence, the likelyhood of that behavior occuring again is influenced by whether the consequence is a reward or a punishment.

One of Skinner’s most famous inventions was called the Skinner box, in which a rat learns that pressing a lever in the cage (operant behavior) releases a food pellet (reward, also called reinforcer). On the other side of this learning process, if a particular behavior is punished, animals and humans alike, learn to not do it because the consequences are unpleasant.

What do you think? Do people behave in certain ways because they will be rewarded for doing good, and punished for the bad or is there more to it?



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