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Skinner's influences in the development of psychology

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Discuss at least one way in which Skinner has influenced the development of psychology. I will be discussing the ways in which Skinner influenced psychology based on his behaviourist theories. Skinner was a great contributor to psychology and to the behaviourist movement. Skinner's influence on psychology is based upon his belief that all topics studied should be directly observable and replicable, therefore consisting of empirical data under controlled laboratory conditions. Behaviour is a good example of this. Skinner also believed in approaching all aspects in a highly scientific way. Skinner tried to be scientific and collect accurate results through the set out of an experiment that was later named the Skinner box. The Skinner box was a piece of apparatus consisting of a lever and tray. If the lever is lowered, a pellet of food is automatically dropped into the tray for the rat. ...read more.


Skinner failed to realise the role of cognitive thought processes in learning, which was a limitation of the behaviourist theories. They also dismissed the idea of free will and individual differences. Skinner believed that environmental factors like nurture could have an effect on behaviour. The used a behaviour modification technique called the token economy. This method has been developed and used in the treatment of several disorders such as bulimia and schizophrenia. This can be used to increase a desired behaviour as a token reward is given for behaving appropriately. The tokens can be exchanged for a specified commodity of a stated value, giving purpose to the collection of tokens. Skinner's theories have been adopted by educational institutions such as schools. If you hear a bell ring then you know to react to it e.g. go to lessons. Other areas in which Skinners theories have been applied are in the circus and animal training facilities for the blind that need guide dogs. ...read more.


Skinner loathed the use of punishers and he argued their undesirable side effects were often worse than the actual behaviour that was to be reduced. Skinner's dependent variable was usually the frequency or rate of responding, not the errors that were made or the time at which it took. Skinner's theory suggests that behaviour is a function of its consequences, this derived from the theory of reinforcement and punishment, which increases or decreases a specific type of behaviour e.g. talking calmly rather than irrational shouting. Skinner has been an influential participant in the development as even today his ideas are being adopted by other psychologists in order to develop a theory further. If it were not for Skinner the world would not be as functional as it is at this present day. Educational institutes embrace Skinners methods seriously and applied them to everyday life which has helped in their progression and operation. Although many other groups wished to criticise Skinners methods, it is obvious that he did more active and vital developments than negative ones for psychology. Leigh-Ann Cooke ...read more.

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