Operant conditioning by B.F Skinner

B.F Skinner is considered one of the most influential psychologist of this era. He studied human aspects and behaviourism of the day to day life that most of us fail to observe and put it into theory .His discovery are used till date to treat, diagnose and find solution to psychological problems. B. F. Skinner was an American psychologist best-known for his influence on behaviourism.

Early life

Burrhus Frederic Skinner was born and raised in the small town of Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. His father was a lawyer and his mother a homemaker. During high school, Skinner started to develop an interest in scientific reasoning from his extensive study of the works of Francis Bacon. After earning his undergraduate degree he decided to become a writer, a period of his life that he would later refer to as the “dark year. He wrote short newspaper articles and receiving some encouragement and mentorship from the famed poet Robert Frost. While working as a clerk at a bookstore, Skinner happened upon the works of Pavlov and Watson, which became a turning point in his life and career. Inspired by these works, Skinner decided to abandon his career as a novelist and entered the psychology graduate program at Harvard University.

He Best Known for Operant conditioning, Schedules of Reinforcement, Skinner Box Cumulative Recorder, Radical Behaviourism. Among his many discoveries, inventions, and accomplishments were the creation of the operant conditioning chamber (aka the Skinner Box), his research on schedules of reinforcement, the introduction of response rates as a dependent variable in research, and the creation of the cumulative recorder to track these response rates. Skinner’s operant conditioning process, an operant referred to any behaviour that acts on the environment and leads to consequences. He contrasted operant behaviours (the actions under our control) with respondent behaviours, which he described as anything that occurs reflexively or automatically such as jerking your finger back when you accidentally touch a hot pan.

Operant conditioning and experiments

Skinner identified reinforcement as any event that strengthens the behaviour it follows. The two types of reinforcement he identified were positive reinforcement (favorable outcomes such as reward or praise) and negative reinforcement (the removal of unfavourable outcomes).Punishment can also play a role in the operant conditioning process.

Skinner distinguishes between two types of behaviour respondent and operant. Respondent behaviour is directly under the control of a stimulus. Operant behaviour appears to be spontaneous rather than a response to specific stimulus .Stimulus that may influence operant behaviour is called discriminative stimulus the word operant derived from the fact that operant behaviour of the rates and the environment to produce some effect. Thus, the telephone rings going to where it is and receiving our operant acts that lead to a telephonic conversation. To demonstrate operant conditioning in the laboratory, a rat is placed in a box called the skinner box that is deprived of food for some specified period and so was assumed to be motivated by hunger drive inside the Skinner box there is a protruding bar with the food dish beneath that small light bulb above the bar can be lit at the experimenters discretion. Left alone in the box, the rat move absolutely restlessly and by chance occasionally presses the bar. The rate at which it first pushes the bar defines the preconditioned of operant level of bar pressing after establishing the opponent level the experimental attaches the food dispenser so that every time the rat presses the bar, a palette of food falls into the dish. The rat eats and soon presses the bar again. The food reinforces by pressing and the rate of pressing increases dramatically. If the food dispenser is disconnected and pressing the bad no longer no longer delivers would the rate of bar pressing will diminish .Experimenter can set up a discrimination by presenting food if the bar is pressed while the light is on and not giving these reinforcement if the response is made in the dark. Selective reinforcement leads to the rats pressing the bar only in the presence of light operant conditioning refers to the increase in the probability of response in a particular stimulus environment by following the response with reinforcement. Usually reinforcement is something that can satisfy a basic drive like food to satisfy your hunger. Operant behaviour is consequences that lead to change in voluntary behaviour person.

Operant conditioning is not just something that takes place in experimental settings while training lab animals. It also plays a powerful role in everyday learning. Reinforcement and punishment take place in natural settings all the time, as well as in more structured settings such as classrooms or therapy sessions. Examples in real life include-     Homework Completion-A student tends to complete his/her homework daily; because he/she knows that he/she will be rewarded with a candy (action) or praise (behaviour). Incentives and Bonus-Workers are often offered with the incentives and bonus in return of completing their targets in time or for regular attendance. It makes the workers to perform better, so that, they can continuously get those incentives and bonus.

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