Burrhus Frederic Skinner, more commonly known as B. F. Skinner, was an American psychologist, philosopher, scientist and poet. An important advocate of behaviourism, Skinner is known for inventing the operant conditioning chamber, and for his own experimental analysis of behavior. He is widely considered as one of the most influential psychologists of all time.
Early Life and Education:
Born in 1904 in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, Skinner’s father was a lawyer. Skinner went to Hamilton College, New York, as he wanted to become a writer. After getting his B.A. in English literature in 1926, Skinner attended Harvard University, where he later received a PhD in 1931. After becoming disenchanted with his literary skills, and inspired by John B. Watson’s Behaviorism, he acquired a degree in psychology, which led to the development of his influential operant behaviorism.
Contributions and Achievements:
B. F. Skinner was a prominent researcher in Harvard University until 1936. He accepted teaching positions at the University of Minnesota and Indiana University. In 1948, he returned to Hardvard as a tenured professor.
Skinner devised the operant conditioning chamber. He introduced his own philosophy of science known as “radical behaviorism”. His brand of experimental research psychology is highly regarded, and deals with the experimental analysis of behavior. Skinner’s analysis of human behavior enhanced his work “Verbal Behavior”, which has lately seen a boost in interest experimentally and in applied settings. Skinner’s science also made other advances in education through the work of his students and colleagues, particulary in special education. He was a prolific author who wrote about 21 books and 180 articles.
Skinner worked out the rate of response as a dependent variable in psychological research. He also figured out the cumulative recorder to assess the rate of responding as part of his highly influential work on schedules of reinforcement. Although Skinner’s work reach back toward the founding of educational psychology, and forward into its modern era, they arguably never attained their true potential.
Later Life and Death:
B. F. Skinner died of leukemia on August 18, 1990. He was 86 years old.