B.F. Skinner

One of the First Behaviorists

Skinner Quick Backround

Born in 1904 in Pennsylvania, he graduated from Hamilton College, trying to become a writer, unsuccessfully, followed by a successful career in psychology, after graduating from Harvard. Dying of leukemia in 1990.

Famous For:

Skinner is most famous for his blatant belief that we have no free will nor, any individual consciousness. He wrote many books featuring this belief in the late 60's and early 70's one of the most famous being Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971). A famous quote of his being " The real Problem is not whether machines think but whether men do." - B.F. Skinner

Fun and Famous

Pigeon Ping Pong: Was a developmental stage of the "Skinner box" a test box where we tested rewards and punishments on both rats and pigeons that was just pushing disks back and forth, which later turned into a ping pong match between the birds.

Effects of His Finds

Positive reinforcement is still considered a great tool for shaping behavior, and rewards and punishment are still used and valued in schools today. This is also used in parenting such as ice cream after being good, or in weight loss, like getting a sweet if you were good all week.


Skinner helped us understand how we think and act, by pointing out the obvious, that a lot of us failed to realize. That we do fall in line through rewards and punishments, especially when we are little. It helped us understand motives, and why we do the things we do, hence our behavior. Skinner even recognized it is especially effective when we are young by saying, "Society attacks early, when the individual is helpless." - B.F. Skinner This helped us learn how to control the young and how to learn to deal with reckless behavior and stop it at the source.


B.F. Skinner had very few critics at the time, but he did have enough that at the end of his lifetime he wrote many autobiographies trying to explain his work. His time was very traditional and most of the time people did what they were told so it was very logical, and rational for people to believe they had to thought on there own. Only rewards and punishments.