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B.F Skinner Essay

924 words - 4 pages

Psychology Paper
One of the most influential, yet controversial psychologists in the 20th Century was B.F. Skinner. Skinner was born on March 20, 1904 in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. As a young boy, he spent his time inventing. A well-known invention from his childhood was used for a door to door business selling elderberries; he built a flotation system which could separate ripe from green berries. His inventions continued on to his high school years when he made a contraption used to spread “green dust” that helped the broom to pick up dirt. Skinner went on to further his education at Hamilton College. There, Skinner decided he would pursue a career in writing. After college, he lacked ...view middle of the document...

He designed an enclosed heated crib with a Plexiglas window. This crib was designed to be more safe than regular cribs because it lacked bars with which infants could get their limbs trapped and it was warm enough so that blankets were not required, reducing the risk of suffocation. However, Skinner was criticized for his crib invention and accused of experimenting on his own children.
Not long after Skinner married Yvonne, he started a new teaching job in Minnesota but became restless when World War II began. Skinner wanted to contribute to the war effort so he began new experiments involving pigeons guiding bombs. Skinner’s Pigeon Project was discontinued to make way for other projects for the war effort. However, the Pigeon Project did play a vital role in the advancement of psychology. It was found that pigeons behave more rapidly than other animals that were previously used in experiments, such as rats. In 1945, Skinner and his family moved to Indiana so that he could hold the position of Chair of the Psychology Department at Indiana University. Three years later, Skinner and his family packed up to move again so that he could accept a teaching position in the Psychology Department at Harvard University. In 1961, Skinner and his collaborators identified the four schedules of partial reinforcement: fixed-ratio schedules, variable-ratio schedules, fixed-interval schedules, and variable-interval schedules. Fixed-ratio schedules reinforce behavior after a set number of responses. Variable-ratio schedules provide reinforcement after an unpredictable number of responses. Fixed-interval schedules reinforce the first response after a fixed time period. Variable-interval schedules reinforce the first response after varying time intervals.
On what seemed to be a normal day in November of 1953, Skinner attended his daughter’s math class for Father’s Day. This visit caused Skinner to design his first teaching machine. Skinner witnessed teaching procedures...

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