Running head: B.F. SKINNER OPERANT CONDITIONING 1 B.F. Skinner Operant Conditioning YourFirstName YourLastName University title
B.F. SKINNER OPERANT CONDITIONING 2 AbstractRadical behaviorism is substantially different from customary psychology; hence it is not asurprise to realize that it has been widely misunderstood. It offers an alternative to thetraditional treatments of mind that avoids some of the mysterious problems raised by thoseviews. B.F Skinner for several times, tried to describe this option with restricted success,partly attributable to the dullness of his prose, as well as the excessiveness of his purportedapplications (Skinner, 1953). Operant conditioning has contributed much on the developmentof behavior in many ways. Operant conditioners succeed at using schedules of alternatingreinforcement to create the type of constant animal performance needed in studying objectswhich produce effects only after prolonged experience. B.F. Skinner Operant ConditioningProduction of Behavior Operant conditioners rely mostly on the ability they have in producing behaviorto some specifications manipulating the manner in which the response of an animal pays off.Behavior of a particular form can be modeled by reinforcing instances that are more andmore closely estimated to the behavior one wishes to manufacture. Operant conditioners can,for instance, teach animals to respond abruptly or slowly, in order to exert great or smallamounts of force, to hold down a lever for a time limit that is specified, to pause beforereacting or to emit a specified number of responses before doing anything else. This impliesthat there is a possibility of shaping the intensive as well as the temporal aspects of theanimal’s responding in creative ways to produce a lot of fascinating and helpful types ofbehavior. For instance, if the toxicologist has an interest in knowing how a chemical affects
B.F. SKINNER OPERANT CONDITIONING 3the ability of an animal to engage in repetitive, strenuous physical activity. The animal willeither be compelled to make a run in order to escape from being tumbled against the end ofthe box or from being shocked or simply use positive reinforcement. Nord (1997), taughtsquirrel monkeys to run up and down on a vertical pole three meters high, by pressing pedalsat both terminals in order to earn food capsules. They found that the monkeys would steadilywork on the task for a period of forty five minutes, going up and down at least three times ina minute. The experiment chose a reinforcement schedule producing a steady rather slow rateof performance. However, they could only as easily have manufactured a much higher ormuch lower rate. The point being addressed here is that they injected work by a smallmonkey at a speed called for by the exacting problem facing them without subjecting theanimal to a demanding coercion.Operant conditioning on the measurement of sensitivity Operant conditioners can teach animals to react differentially to a variety of physicaldimensions of their surroundings. They practice this by reinforcing one reply in the presenceof one incentive and the other response in its absence. The stimulus thereafter comes to guidethe response. This is the reason behind the occurrence of significant senses, that is, whatanimals hear, smell, and see a midst other senses. Stokinger, on the limitations of animalbehavioral toxicology, argues that the fact that animals cannot account for the sensation theyexperience, they should not be used as experimental apparatus to draw conclusions on man.He argues that by changing the stimuli suitably, one can quantify how well they sense theirenvironment. The absolute threshold, which is, the minimum detectable energy level cantherefore, be established. Through this variance, one can also get a hint on how easily animalsdetect little additions and subtractions to their environment (Nord, 1997).
B.F. SKINNER OPERANT CONDITIONING 4 An animal’s internal sensation can also be a measure through operant conditioning.Interceptor events play a crucial role here. However, they in most cases serve asdiscriminative stimuli. An animal can again be trained in regards to how they react the drugsthey have just been given. One ought to first of all train the animal to react to agents whoseimpacts are known before engaging to the unknown drugs or toxic substances. This will makeit possible for one to understand how the animal reacts on such substances by comparing thetwo. The challenge of quantifying the strength of irritating substances can be studied in thesame manner though it may also be done through escape conditioning given that thesubstances are adequately aversive.Schedules of reinforcement Operant conditioners do well in coming up with the stable animal behavior that istypically maintained catalysts are made available only from time to time. An emergent ofpatterns of responding which are quite specific to the contingencies of reinforcement iscommon on such schedules. Research shows that, the operant baselines controlled by theschedules are stable in all circumstances daily. Performances which are schedule controlledare said to be useful on issues concerning behavioral mechanisms of action. This is to meanthat one is able to know aspects of behavior that are exactly are more relevant to how asubstance produces its effects (Emilio, 2003). Research shows that reinforcement schedules has nothing to add on the study of toxicimpacts on the acquisition of new behavior. Scholars argue that there can be as many ways ofstudying learning as there are ways of confronting organisms having changed reinforcementcontingencies and then looking at them as they get used to the new contingencies. Schedulesalso play a vital role in ensuring that the worker having an interest in the way various reinforcers reveal toxicity is adequately helped. A study done by Wood (2006) showed that a
B.F. SKINNER OPERANT CONDITIONING 5toxic substance can as well play a role of a reinforcer in itself when delivered in accordanceto a schedule. Work is described by Wood as a solvent that at times serves as the vehicle forthe ingestion of more toxic compounds such as those which emerge in household aerosolproducts (Wood, 2006). In addition, the stability of operant performances controlled byschedules can be precious in dropping the variability of sensory or physiological measures.This suggests that anybody with an aim of making repeated determinations concerning theawake animal would be well advised to put into consideration the merits offered by suchdirect methods.Skinner’s idea of human nature Skinner (1971) remains undecided and blurred on the responsibility that human natureand environment play in issues concerning learning. Operant behavior operates upon theenvironment to produce consequences according to skinner (Emilio, 2003). Nevertheless, theenvironment does not remain passive, rather it chooses. He however, agrees that operantbehavior is given a chance to only a function that is ceremonial. A section of his philosophyon human nature suggests that it is a suitable discovery to which he assigns all sorts of naturaltendencies short of proper explanations. In spite of recognizing natural, human endowments,which has developed as a result of its survival value in the evolutionary process, Skinner seesin it only those things that will serve his theory. He does not hesitate to manipulate his viewson human nature to hold up his claims on the capacity and efficiency of operant conditioning.He holds on a extremely low opinion of human nature (Nord, 1997). He has a preference oftechnology of operant conditioning in order to be in charge of men.Operant conditioning and a paradox of teleology
B.F. SKINNER OPERANT CONDITIONING 6 Porpora (1990) figures out an ambiguity in the analysis of goal-directedness andargues that an evasion on this vagueness led to mistaken conclusion that behavior resultingfrom operant conditioning is goal directed in the logic specified by Wright (1972) and byTaylor (1964). He proposed and endorsed a breakdown of goal directedness that fail toexhibit the ambiguity he finds in Wright and that his claims captured the true intend ofTaylor. His analysis specifies that operant behavior is not goal directed. Ringen (1976),iterates the division that exists between responded and operant conditioning. He argues thatthe typical case of the responded conditioning is that of the Pavlov’s dogs where salivation asa response is produced by the sound of a bell. This he goes on to say that has achieved thestatus of stimulus that is conditioned by the fact that it is temporarily paired with a meal. Hethereafter observes that, this manner of conditioning is deliberately non teleological. Thereexist no link between behavior and its effects on the surroundings. This is based on the factthat the salivation of the dog cannot in anyway produce food. In this method, behavior isdrawn out, not by a stimulus, but by the history of reinforcement in which such behavior hasproduced. Taylor (1964) gives an explanation teleology as being one that accounts for someevent of cluster of events by laws in terms of which the occurrence of an event is held to bedepended on its requirement at the end. According to this explanation, Taylor argues thatbehavior is typically a function of causal attribute of an environment which needs a little bitof behavior for the production of some constant goal. This shows that as the environmentvaries, a corresponding change in behavior is experienced. This argument brings about thefact that the incidence of a certain behavior could be explained by a teleological accountrather than by a mechanistic account. However, Noble refutes this; he shows that, in anyincidence where behavior is explained by a teleological account, a mechanistic account maybe offered as well (Noble, 1967). Despite that Taylor points out that in contrast to the
B.F. SKINNER OPERANT CONDITIONING 7parsimonious explanation given by a teleological account, what such mechanistic accountsamounts to is a series of explanations which offers no foundation for predicting in theparticular situation. He however, agrees that it eventually remains to be seen whether amechanistic framework can provide a viable general explanation such as that which is offeredthrough teleological framework.Application of operant conditioning to education In regards to Skinners point of view, operant conditioning applied to education is easyand straight forward. He states that, teaching is the arrangement of the unforeseen events ofreinforcement over which the students acquire knowledge. These events consist of threestages; an occasion through which there is an occurrence of behavior, the behavior in itself inaddition, to the effects resulting from that behavior. Methods used to arrange thosecontingencies of reinforcement results into a more effective control of learning behavior aswell as allow one to form the behavior of an organism almost at will. In his essay, thetechnology of teaching, Skinner outlines a thorough and technical summary of operantconditioning and its use to education (Nord, 1997). Current educational practices have gotten a considerable number of shortcomingsunder which Skinner puts more emphasis. Overreliance on aversion, or punishing,consequences in controlling learning is one of the failures of the teacher. Unlike long agowhere corporal punishment was a norm, reforms made in the education sector have justshifted this kind of punishment to a non-corporal one (Williams, 2008). These aversivecontrols include scolding, criticism, sarcasm, ridicule, extra home or school work as well asincarceration. In institutions of higher learning, this pattern of aversive ness stays aliveaccording to Skinner, in the manner of assigning and testing through which learners are madeto read books, attend lessons, perform experiments, write papers and take tests among others
B.F. SKINNER OPERANT CONDITIONING 8(Lejeune et al., 2006). They are prone to suffer aversive consequences in case they fail toreport accurately on what they have seen, heard or read. The judgment of a teacher is by thestrictness of the threat he inflicts and how firm he makes students work in spite of how muchthey have actually learned. The actual result of this kind of controls come along with a range of forms of escapeamong students; counter attacks, and inaction with such emotional accompaniment as fear,anger, resentment, and anxiety. Skinner argues that most students are well exposed andseriously need education, yet they cannot force themselves to study. These methods ofreinforcement not only have effects on students but also on teachers (Lejeune et al., 2006). Atthe beginning, a teacher may start his career with enthusiasm towards his or her professionand students only to find himself playing time after time unsociable role as a stock of violentbehaviors is frequently reinforced. This view does not create a center of attention or holdsuperb quality teachers. According to Skinner, sometimes the occupation has been endurableonly to weaklings or to those who enjoy treating others aversively. Skinner states that the initial step in designing instruction is to define terminalbehaviors- the main lessons that a student ought to know at the end of the learning (Skinner,1953). Thereafter, there should be an organization of events to strengthen behaviors throughreinforcement. In the midst, of the behaviors that can be trained are those required forcomposite learning and thinking. Contrary to ordinary belief that programming is helpfulonly in schooling on the knowledge height programming can also be applied to teach at extracomplex levels of thinking (Williams, 2008).Conclusion B.F Skinner, being the founder of operant conditioning, had a believe that the bestway to get a hint of behavior of one is to take a look at the causes of action and its
B.F. SKINNER OPERANT CONDITIONING 9consequences. He particularly based his theory on the works done by Edward Thorndike ‘lawof effect’ (Thorndike, 1905). The stress on the behavior of psychology is primarily on theway one learns to behave in a particular manner. Human beings are constantly getting newbehaviors daily and the manner in which the behaviors that already exist can be modified(Nord, 1997). Skinner’s point of view attempts to expose how negative effects resulting fromreinforcements. He also addresses the role played by engaging punishments to one’s subjects.He shows that punishments has nothing to perfect behaviors but only weakens the existingbehaviors (Lejeune et al., 2006).ReferencesEmilio, R. (2003). Behavior & Philosophy: What is Defined in operational Definitions? TheCase of Operant Psychology. London: Longhorn.Lejeune, H, Richelle, M & Wearden, J. (2006). Journal of the Experimental Analysis ofBehavior. New York: Wiley & Sons.Noble, D. (1967). “Charles Taylor on Teleological Explanation”. Amsterdam: Munford.Nord, W. R. (1997). Organizational Behavior & Human Performance. New York: Wiley &Sons.Ringen, J. (1976). “Explanation, Teleology, and operant Behaviorism: A study of theexperimental Analysis of Purposive Behavior” Philosophy of Science. Washington: McGrawHill.Skinner, B.F. (1953). Science and Human Behavior. New York: MacMillan.Thorndike, E. L. (1905). The elements of psychology. New York: A. G. Seiler.Williams, J. (2008). Times Educational Supplement. Washington: McGraw Hill.
B.F. SKINNER OPERANT CONDITIONING 10Wood, R. W. (2006). Stimulus Properties of Inhaled Substances. London: Oxford UniversityPress.