Posts Tagged B.F. Skinner and behaviorism

Understanding Internal Motivation and Feelings

image of a man with emotion symbols

Very often, people don’t fully understand why they do or think things. Are thoughts, feelings, and actions driven by internal motivation or external motivation?

Let’s look at feelings and how internal and external factors affect them. Most people have a hard time untangling the sources of various positive and negative feelings and are prone to misunderstand their causes. In a classic demonstration of this, the current day’s weather affected how people being interviewed rated how well their entire life had been up to that point. They were more likely to characterize their whole existence as sunny when the weather was nice. Conscious awareness of this reaction, however, brought about an immediate change. When the interviewers called attention to the weather … >>>


Skinner and Behaviorism vs. Marshall

The term “Behaviorism” usually refers to approaches of Pavlov (classical conditioning of stimulus/response) and Skinner (behavior modification by reinforcing behavior AFTER an act occurs).

Although behavior modification is popular in schools, the practice is counterproductive for promoting responsibility. The reason is that responsibility requires initiative that emanates from within a person, rather than from some external stimulus.

The essence of behavior modification is to reward desired behavior and ignore undesired behavior. The fact that inappropriate behavior is ignored sends the message that nothing is wrong with inappropriate behavior, and so there is no incentive to stop doing it. Therefore, a major problem with the approach is that when undesired behavior is not addressed, such behavior becomes “reinforced.”

All behavior … >>>


Behaviorism’s Founder

Frank Knight (November 7, 1885 – April 15, 1972) was a professor of economics at the University of Chicago. Four of his students received the Nobel Prize for Economics (Paul Saluelson, Milton Friedman, George Stigler, and James Buchanan, Jr.) . Professor Knight was rather outspoken. The short paragraphs below are his comments about behaviorism and its best known founders, John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner.

John B. Watson was a founder of the psychological school referred to as behaviorism. Behaviorists, represented more popularly by the controversial utopian B.F. Skinner of Harvard University, argue that all human behavior can be understood in terms of stimulus-response models that have been developed from studying the behavior of rats in mazes.

In 1932, … >>>