Burrhus Frederic Skinner was born in 1902, and he became one of the most celebrated psychologist having conducted numerous researches and especially on human behavior. Before he died in the year 1990, Skinner wrote several books on psychology and he also came up with various theories, the most famous being the operanti conditioning theory. This discussion takes an in-depth look at this theory and its contributions to scientific research in personality psychology.
According to Skinner, operant conditioning is the kind of behavior that is displayed by a person as a result of something, and the nature of the result changes the person's tendency to engage in a similar behavior in future (Skinner, 1948, p.23). Simply put, it is a learning method where people are punished for bad behavior and rewarded for good behavior. Skinner's argument in this theory was that people's thoughts and motivations cannot be used to explain their behavior. Instead, external factors should be considered in explaining the behavior of persons. Skinner looked at any active action or behavior that is bound to bring consequences as operanti.
[...] Opponents of this theory have argued that Skinner has by and large undermined the nature of human beings. They feel that Skinner has not only viewed human beings as animals but also as objects that can be controlled. Skinner seems to ignore the intrinsic value that human beings have by virtue of being. By caging a rat in a box and thereby controlling and shaping its behavior, what he refers to as conditioning, Skinner seems to totally overlook the free will which is accorded to human beings and assumes that human beings can be caged and controlled so that they can behave in a particular manner. [...]
[...] People do not always display certain behavior as explained by this theory. Just because someone is aware that they will be rewarded for good behavior does not necessarily make them change their behavior and even when they do; it may be short- lived just for the purpose of getting the reward after which they will go back to their previous behavior. Skinner has also been accused by his critics as being a radical behaviorist who did not give much room to other thoughts. [...]
[...] F. (1948). Superstition' in the Pigeon. [...]
[...] Instead, this theory concentrates solely on external factors such as the environment. This is however not to say that Skinner does not recognize or appreciate the existence of these external conditions. There are many organizations that have adopted this approach. They therefore look at external factors such as workplace environment to explain the behavior of employees at the workplace. For this reason, the management of an organization will always construe employees' motivation as being a result of the good environment at the workplace. [...]
[...] He helped bring to the open, discussion regarding the reasons why people behave in a certain way. We all behave in certain ways during certain times but we do not pay much attention as to why we do so. Skinner therefore got us to think so that every time we behave in a certain way, we stop to think what triggered us to behave in a certain manner. Another aspect that makes this theory believable and its claims valid is the fact that Skinner based all his claims on scientific research. [...]
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