Behavioural psychology is created by the environment because of the way it acts upon the organism to make it behave in the way it does. This is a natural progression from the views of Charles Darwin where the environment was seen to be the sole agency responsible for the evolution of all organic life. While these ideas (brought about my Darwin) required extremely long periods of time to take effect on the organism, the theory was applied to Man with the idea that the response or effect (i.e. behaviour towards the subject) results from immediate or recent environmental forces or causes (i.e. stimuli). Main psychologists in this area were Watson, Skinner, James, Thorndike and Pavlov.
Skinner developed a psychology that concentrates not on the person but on those variables and forces in the environment that influence a person and that may be directly observed, presenting behaviourism and learning theory in its purest, most extreme form.
He chose to describe variables and forces in the environment that shape behaviour rather than to develop a theory of personality because he believes that the term ?personality? and concepts of internal structure are ultimately superfluous. Thus, behaviour is best understood in terms of responses to the environment.
Operant conditioning involves reinforcing and shaping spontaneous responses. It differs from classical conditioning in terms of the nature of the behaviour (which is freely made rather than elicited by a stimulus) and the nature of the reinforcement (which follows rather than precedes the behaviour).
Skinner distinguished three different schedules of reinforcement ? continuous, interval, and ratio reinforcement ? and described their effectiveness. A continuous schedule is more effective for initially developing behaviour but a variable ratio schedule is more effective for maintaining it.
Skinner also observed behavioural control and came to the conclusion that punishment is...