Saturday, June 18, 2016

Operant Conditioning

I’ve learned about Burrhus Frederick Skinner in multiple psychology classes I have taken and found his experiments to be very interesting.  Skinner tended to study operant conditioning in his own way. Operant conditioning is “a type of learning in which the future probability of a behavior is affected by its consequences”(Powell). Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning was if a behavior was followed by reinforcement, then it is most likely to be recurring, and if the behavior were followed by a punishment then it would be less likely to be repeated.
 Skinner demonstrated his theory with the “Skinner box”. This was one of his most famous experiments. Skinner concluded from his box experiment “the notion that all behavior could be analyzed in terms of reflexes, and along with other learning theorists, came to believe that behaviors could be conveniently divided into two categories” (Powell). The two behaviors were referred to as respondent behavior and operant behavior. Respondent Behavior “…consists of involuntary, reflexive-type behaviors, which can often be classically conditioned to occur in new situations” (Powell). Operant Behavior “…consists of behaviors that seem more voluntary in nature and are controlled by their consequences rather then by the stimuli that precede them” (Powell).

Powell, R. A., Symbaluk, D. G., & Honey, P. L. (2009). Introduction to learning and behavior. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

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