Carl Rodgers and B.F. Skinner: Behaviorism Comparison between two descriptions of behavior

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B.F. Skinner, who favored the behaviorist approach to psychology, criticized the psychoanalytical theory by suggesting that psychology should be the study of behavior and not just the mind. However, Skinner's approach was radical, in that he did consider our inner thoughts and feelings, but denied that they had anything to do with behavior. His study of behavior involved close contact with the experimental laboratory, where he experimented with small animals such as rats and pigeons. As the experimenter, he was able to study the use of stimuli and reinforcement of behavior.

Skinner pointed out that aggression, like any other form of behavior, is a result of social and physical issues in our environments. With this in mind, he believed that human behavior is therefore controllable. In Skinner's view, if aggression is apparent in a person, then it is determined by past and present relevant events, together with genetic endowment, hereditary factors that are passed through our genes in the process of evolution.

He argued that full knowledge of these two sets of factors, genetic endowment and personal history; hold the key to controlling behavior such as aggression.

The behaviorist approach fails to acknowledge individual free will and choice however, and the frustrations involved in the inability to express these. It is often these unobservable issues that cause behaviors, such as aggression. When looking at positive reinforcement, Skinner often refused to consider the mental causes of aggression. For example, if a drunk tries to start a fight with you in a pub, Skinner's theory would indicate that the best form of action from previous experience would be to walk away. This however, ignores the events leading up to this point, and you may decide to stay and fight or maybe stay and make friends. The mind selects a response according...