Burrhus Frederic Skinner

by: Katie Ford

About Burrhus

Burrhus was an American psychologist, behavourist, author, inventor, and social philosopher. He was born on March 20th 1904 in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania.
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Skinner's Approach

Burrhus believed that the best way to study behaviour is to look at what causes certain actions as well as their consequences. He called this approach operant conditioning which means roughly changing behaviour by the use of reinforcement which is given after the desired response. His theory is based on the work of Edward Thorndike.

Skinner Box

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The Skinner box is a laboratory apparatus used in the experimental analysis of behaviour to study animal behaviour. He created it while he was a graduate student at Harvard University. It studies behaviour conditioning by teaching a subject animal to perform certain actions (pressing a lever) in response to a certain stimuli (light or sound signal). When the subject animal completes the action, it gets rewarded with food or another reward. The mechanism delivers a punishment for incorrect or missing responses.


B. F. Skinner died of leukemia on August 18, 1990 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


September 11 2014 "B. F. Skinner" retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._F._Skinner

December 13 2012 "Who Was B. F. Skinner: A Look Inside From a Fellow Behavior Analysist's View" retrieved from http://www.drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/who-was-bf-skinner-an-inside-look-from-a-fellow-behavior-analysts-view

2014 "Skinner - Operant Conditioning" by Saul McLeod retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html