Tuesday, November 1, 2016

On B. F. Skinner and Behaviorism

On B. F. Skinner and Behaviorism: Often considered one of the most important psychologists of the 20th century, Skinner was a pioneer in the field of behaviorism. And for the most part, behaviorism can be seen as a kind of 20th-century reaction to the 19th-century development of psychoanalysis. Whereas Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical methods tried to uncover "meaning" behind deep dreams and repressed feelings, Skinner's behavioral techniques put forth that dreams and feelings were secondary concerns. What truly mattered to behaviorists like Skinner were social appearances and personal actions. With a limited free will (and a limited capacity for self-expression), Skinner argued that most people could be conditioned to act a certain way. By examining routines, and conducting experiments involving reward mechanisms, he believed that through the principle of reinforcement, people could be programmed to learn specific behaviors.

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