" Of several responses made to the same situation, those which are accompanied or closely followed by satisfaction to the animal will, other things being equal, be more firmly connected with the situation, so that, when it recurs, they will be more likely to recur; those which are accompanied or closely followed by discomfort to the animal will, other things being equal, have their connections with that situation weakened, so that, when it recurs, they will be less likely to occur "
Thorndike, E. L. (1911). “Animal intelligence: Experimental Studies”. p. 244
7. Law of Effect: If the response in a connection is followed by a satisfying state of affairs, the strength of the connection is considerably increased whereas if followed by an annoying state of affairs, then the strength of the connection is marginally decreased.
10. Prepotency of Elements: Different responses to the same environment would be evoked by different perceptions of the environment which act as the stimulus to the responses. Different perceptions would be subject to the prepotency of different elements for different perceivers.
In 1913, Watson published the article " Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It " — sometimes called " The Behaviorist Manifesto ". In this article, Watson outlined the major features of his new philosophy of psychology, called "behaviorism".
The first paragraph of the article concisely described Watson's behaviorist position:
“ Psychology as the behaviorist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behavior. Introspection forms no essential part of its methods, nor is the scientific value of its data dependent upon the readiness with which they lend themselves to interpretation in terms of consciousness. The behaviorist, in his efforts to get a unitary scheme of animal response, recognizes no dividing line between man and brute. The behavior of man, with all of its refinement and complexity, forms only a part of the behaviorist's total scheme of investigation .”
Watson and Rayner selected an infant named Albert, at approximately 9 months of age, he was tested and was judged to show no fear when successively observing a number of live animals (e.g., a rat, a rabbit, a dog, and a monkey), and various inanimate objects (e.g., cotton, human masks, a burning newspaper).
Two months after testing Albert's apparently unconditioned reactions to various stimuli, Watson and Rayner attempted to condition him to fear a white rat. This was done by presenting a white rat to Albert, followed by a loud clanging sound (of the hammer and steel bar) whenever Albert touched the animal. After seven pairings of the rat and noise (in two sessions, one week apart), Albert reacted with crying and avoidance when the rat was presented without the loud noise.
Positive reinforcement is the strengthening of behaviour by the application of some event (e.g., praise after some behaviour is performed),
Negative reinforcement is the strengthening of behaviour by the removal or avoidance of some aversive event (e.g., opening and raising an umbrella over your head on a rainy day is reinforced by the cessation of rain falling on you).
Both types of reinforcement strengthen behaviour, or increase the probability of a behaviour reoccurring.
Punishment and extinction have the effect of weakening behaviour, or decreasing the probability of a behaviour reoccurring, by the application of an aversive event (punishment) or the removal of a rewarding event (extinction).
In one of Skinner’s experiments a hungry rat was introduced into the box. When the lever was pressed by the rat a small pellet of food was dropped onto a tray. The rat soon learned that when he pressed the lever he would receive some food. In this experiment the lever pressing behaviour is reinforced by food.
If pressing the lever is reinforced (the rat gets food) when a light is on but not when it is off, responses (pressing the lever) continue to be made in the light but seldom, if at all, in the dark. The rat has formed discrimination between light and dark. When one turns on the light, a response occurs, but that is not a Pavlovian conditioned reflex response.
In this experiment Skinner demonstrated the ideas of "operant conditioning" and "shaping behaviour." Unlike Pavlov's "classical conditioning," where an existing behaviour (salivating for food) is shaped by associating it with a new stimulus (ringing of a bell or a metronome), operant conditioning is the rewarding of an act that approaches a new desired behavior.
Skinner's operant chamber allowed him to explore the rate of response as a dependent variable, as well as develop his theory of schedules of reinforcement. The first operant chambers were attached to cumulative records on drums producing characteristic pauses, scallops, and other lines.
In 1954 B.F. Skinner embarked upon a series of studies designed to improve teaching methods for spelling, math, and other school subjects by using a mechanical device that would surpass the usual classroom experience.
He believed the classroom had disadvantages because the rate of learning for different students was variable and reinforcement was also delayed due to the lack of individual attention.
Since personal tutors for every student was usually unavailable, Skinner developed a theory of programmed learning that was to be implemented by teaching machines.
The teaching machine is composed of mainly a program, which is a system of combined teaching and test items that carries the student gradually through the material to be learned.
The "machine" is composed by a fill-in-the-blank method on either a workbook or in a computer. If the subject is correct, he/she gets reinforcement and moves on to the next question. If the answer is incorrect, the subject studies the correct answer to increase the chance of getting reinforced next time.
The teaching machine is merely a device for presenting the set of frames of which the program is composed.
However, it is not supplementary but all-inclusive. The program will do all the teaching through a response/reward mechanism.
Skinner also noted that the learning process should be divided into a large number of very small steps and reinforcement must be dependent upon the completion of each step.
Skinner suggested that the machine itself should not teach, but bring the student into contact with the person who composed the material it presented. He believed this was the best possible arrangement for learning because it took into account the rate of learning for each individual student.
Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century by Lauren Slater (2004)
“ . . . caged for two full years, placing within her cramped square space bells and food trays and all manners of mean punishments and bright rewards, and he tracked her progress on a grid. And then, when she was thirty-one and frankly psychotic, she sued him for abuse in a genuine court of law, lost the case, and shot herself in a bowling alley in Billings, Montana. Boom-boom went the gun. ”
American psychologist best known for his maternal-separation and social isolation experiments on rhesus monkeys, which demonstrated the importance of care-giving and companionship in social and cognitive development.
In a well-known series of experiments conducted between 1957 and 1963, Harlow removed baby rhesus monkeys from their mothers, and offered them a choice between two surrogate mothers, one made of terrycloth, the other of wire.
Two groups of baby rhesus monkeys were removed from their mothers. In the first group, a terrycloth mother provided no food, while a wire mother did, in the form of an attached baby bottle containing milk.
In the second group, a terrycloth mother provided food; the wire mother did not.
It was found that the young monkeys clung to the terrycloth mother whether or not it provided them with food, and that the young monkeys chose the wire surrogate only when it provided food.
Whenever a frightening stimulus was brought into the cage, the monkeys ran to the cloth mother for protection and comfort, no matter which mother provided them with food. This response decreased as the monkeys grew older.
Harlow's interpretation of this behaviour, which is still widely accepted, was that a lack of contact comfort is psychologically stressful to the monkeys.
The importance of these findings is that they contradicted both the then common pedagogic advice of limiting or avoiding bodily contact in an attempt to avoid spoiling children and the insistence of the then dominant Behaviourist School of Psychology that emotions were negligible.
The novel's protagonist, Alex, believes he can be released from prison early by participating in an Ivan Pavlov/B.F. Skinner inspired rehabilitation program referred to as the "Ludovico technique," which conditions criminals to become nauseous from the mere thought of violence.
Before participating in the program the prison chaplain warns against it, declaring that an action is only good if derived from good intentions. Thus conditioning in any form is criticized for being dehumanizing and oppressive.
In 1959, Chomsky published a widely influential review of Skinner's book Verbal Behavior , Chomsky broadly and aggressively challenged the behaviourist approaches to studies of behaviour dominant at the time, and contributed to the cognitive revolution in psychology.
In the review Chomsky emphasized that the scientific application of behavioural principles from animal research is severely lacking in explanatory adequacy and is furthermore particularly superficial as an account of human verbal behaviour because a theory restricting itself to external conditions, to "what is learned", cannot adequately account for generative grammar.
Chomsky raised the examples of rapid language acquisition of children, including their quickly developing ability to form grammatical sentences, and the universally creative language use of competent native speakers to highlight the ways in which Skinner's view exemplified under-determination of theory by evidence.
He argued that to understand human verbal behaviour such as the creative aspects of language use and language development , one must first postulate a genetic linguistic endowment. The assumption that important aspects of language are the product of universal innate ability runs counter to Skinner's radical behaviourism.
Skinner, who rarely responded directly to critics, never formally replied to Chomsky's critique. Many years later, Kenneth MacCorquodale's reply was endorsed by Skinner.
He claimed that Chomsky did not possess an adequate understanding of either behavioural psychology in general, or the differences between Skinner's behaviourism and other varieties; consequently, it is argued that he made several serious errors.
Chomsky has maintained that the review was directed at the way Skinner's variant of behavioral psychology " was being used in Quinean empiricism and naturalization of philosophy "