The Theories of B.F. Skinner

Essay by elvis21University, Bachelor'sA, June 2007

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The Theories of B.F. Skinner


Psy 250

The Theories of B.F. Skinner

Many theorists have presented their theory of personality in attempts to either explain their own personal lives or to describe the effects that genetics and the environment have in personality. Countless debates have risen over the actual cause of people's actions. Is it parental upbringing, genetic traits, unconscious forces or simply responses to stimuli? In this paper I am going to investigate B.F. Skinner and his views and philosophy on behaviorism and his approach to behavior therapy.

B.F. Skinner was born Burrhus Frederic Skinner in a small railroad town in northeastern Pennsylvania. His childhood was spent in a warm, stable family environment. His father was a lawyer and his mother, according to Skinner, was rigid with high moral standards. She would quickly take alarm if he showed any deviation from what was "right" according to her societal standards, and would ask him "what would people think"? Growing up, Skinner was an avid builder of things; he even built a gadget that confronted him with a sign in his bedroom closet whenever he forgot to hang up his clothes.

His focus in life had always stemmed from literary and artistic interests. He had a brother who was two and a half years younger and was into sports and social activities. At 16, he died suddenly of a cerebral aneurysm; Skinner has described his thoughts about his brother's death as being "not much moved". The most important figure in Skinner's life was a schoolteacher named Mary Graves. Miss Graves was responsible for Skinner's English literature major and his career as a writer.

Behavior therapy, unlike other theories, is not closely identified with any single person. It has several important proponents. (B.F.. Skinner...An Autobiography) However, it...