B.F. Skinner

Burrhus Frederic Skinner, Behaviorist

History and Accomplishments


Institutions: University of Minnesota, Indiana University and Harvard University

Known for: Operant conditioning, operant conditioning chamber, radical behaviorism

Notable Awards: National Medal of Science

Believed that free will was an illusion and human action depended on consequence of previous actions.

Skinner called the use of reinforcement to strengthen behavior "operant conditioning".

B.F. Skinner was famous for his Skinner box that has a bar or pedal on one wall that, when pressed, causes a little mechanism to release a food pellet into the cage. The rat is moving around the cage when it accidentally presses the bar and, as a result of pressing the bar, a food pellet falls into the cage. The rat soon learns that pressing the bar gives it food this is an example of operant conditioning.