What Were the Contributions of B.F. Skinner?

B.F. Skinner’s major contributions to society were his explorations and research into behaviorism and a novel in 1948 based on his work called “Walden Two,” which depicted a Utopian society. He also wrote a number of books on behaviorism in society including “Beyond Freedom and Human Dignity” in 1971.

Burrhus Frederic Skinner was born in Pennsylvania in 1904. He earned his doctorate in psychology from Harvard University. While at the university, he developed an experiment he called the Skinner Box, which studied how rats behaved with a level that would dispense food. While his work at Harvard showed similarities to the work of Ivan Pavlov, his research studied how environments created learned responses, rather than a response from a stimulus.

Skinner was tasked with training pigeons during World War II to escort bombing runs; however, when the experiment was cancelled, he trained the animals to play ping-pong. After earning a professorship at Harvard, he created a machine that tested how children learn.

He also developed a theory on reinforcement in behaviors. This theory summarized that reinforced behaviors would continue, while behaviors that were not would disappear.

Some of Skinner’s work was widely criticized, including theories that postulated human beings have no free will. He wrote the book “About Behaviorism” in 1974 to clear up any misconceptions about his work.

Skinner passed away from leukemia in 1990.