B.F. Skinner: A Brief Biography
Burrhus Frederic Skinner, or B.F. Skinner, was an American psychologist and behaviorist who developed the theory of operant conditioning. He was born on March 20, 1904 in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, and he died on August 18, 1990 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Skinner was a prolific writer, and his works are still widely read and studied today.
Early Life and Education
Skinner was born to Grace and William Skinner, who were both lawyers. He was the middle child of three siblings. As a child, he was a voracious reader, and he was also interested in building things. He attended Hamilton College in New York and graduated with a degree in English literature in 1926. He then went on to study psychology at Harvard University, where he earned his master’s degree in 1930 and his doctorate in 1931.
Career and Research
Skinner’s research focused on the effects of rewards and punishments on behavior. He was particularly interested in the concept of operant conditioning, which is the idea that behavior is shaped by its consequences. This is the basis of his well-known theory of reinforcement, which states that behavior is strengthened when it is rewarded and weakened when it is punished.
Skinner also conducted research on the effects of drugs on behavior and the potential of using operant conditioning to modify behavior. He was an advocate of behavior modification, which is the idea that behavior can be changed through the use of rewards and punishments.
Skinner was a professor at the University of Minnesota from 1937 to 1945, and then at Harvard from 1948 until his retirement in 1974. He wrote several books, including “The Behavior of Organisms” (1938), “Science and Human Behavior” (1953), “Verbal Behavior” (1957), and “Beyond Freedom and Dignity” (1971).
Skinner’s research and writings have had a lasting impact on the field of psychology. His theories of operant conditioning and reinforcement are still widely used in the fields of education, therapy, and parenting. His work also had a major influence on the field of behavior modification, which is still used today to treat a variety of psychological disorders.
Skinner was a highly influential figure in psychology, and his works continue to be studied and discussed today. He was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1968, and he was posthumously inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 1991.
B.F. Skinner was a pioneering psychologist and behaviorist who developed the theory of operant conditioning. His research and writings have had a lasting impact on the field of psychology, and his work is still widely studied and discussed today. He was a highly influential figure in psychology, and his legacy continues to live on.
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