BF Skinner and Motivation

Motivation is a term used in psychology to mean the cause of behavior that is persistently directed toward a goal. A simple reflex action, such as jerking one’s hand away from a hot stove, is not said to be motivated in the psychological sense. Motivation is usually made up of a combination of motives, which may also be called drives, incentives, or interests. Drives usually activate an individual to satisfy a physiological need, such as for food, sleep, or relief from pain.

Incentives and interests are usually said to stimulate action that satisfies emotional and mental needs or desires. Motivation is often based on acquired social values. Such values may motivate a person to seek a college education or to win the approval of others. Another person, with different social values, might reject higher education for the immediate goal of a job in order to buy a car and expensive clothes. Adequate motivation is one of the important conditions for efficient learning. In general, the stronger the motivation, the more effectively the student will learn.

Motivation research is the study of consumer’s reasons for buying or not buying certain items or services, and for preferring to do business with one firm rather than with another. Such research is a special interest to advertising agencies. Great emphasis is placed on discovering the consumer’s hidden, or unconscious, motives. To discover these motives, researchers use special tests and interviews that must be conducted and interpreted by psychologists. For example, in projective tests individuals are asked to respond to things such as words, sentences, and pictures.

The responses are studied for the purpose of discovering various attitudes and opinions, called images. These images might depend on factors such as social class, occupation, age, and sex of the respondents, and can serve as a guide in creating advertisements. It might be found, for example, that a product is more likely to sell if its advertisement makes a person feel that his social status will improve if he buys the product. Not all psychologists accept the same theory of motivation or agree on the best way to conduct motivation research.

However, conclusions reached by psychologists can serve as a source of ideas for advertising agencies. Thesis Statement: This study summarizes the field of motivation and BF Skinners theoretical views and discuss his impact on the motivation field. II. Background B. F. Skinner was the foremost behavioral psychologist in the United States. Behavioral psychology, as distinguished from the earlier, mentalistic school which focused on the mind of man, is concerned with predicting and controlling the behavior of organisms, man included.

Skinner’s main work has been based in the principles operant (observable) conditioning, whereby the organism’s behavioral responses in a situation are reinforced or discouraged according to a system of rewards and punishments. Skinner’s experiments have shown that, through such conditioning, animal behavior can be controlled and predicted to a far greater than was ever thought possible (Smith & Sarason 18). Burrhus Frederick Skinner was born in March 20, 1904 in Susquehanna, Pa.

After graduating from Hamilton College he spent a year trying to write fiction and poetry but soon came to the conclusion that his talents law elsewhere (although he did eventually write a novel, Walden Two (1948), in which he describes a utopian community based on operant conditioning). He then went to Harvard University where he obtained a Ph. D. in psychology. An important influence there was the biologist W. J. Crozier, introduced him to animal experimentation. After teaching for several years at Minnesota and Indiana universities he joined the Harvard faculty in 1948.

Skinner’s most important is the Behavior of Organisms (1938), in which he presents the basic principles of operant conditioning. These might best be understood in the context of typical experiment of Skinner’s. A rat is the context at 80 to 90 percent of its normal weight and punt into a device now known as a Skinner box. This device provides a stark environment that restricts what can happen to the rat to those events the experimenter can control or observe. The box contains an opening, through which food may be presented, and a lever.

The rat presses the lever a number of times to obtain pellets of food. The rat‘s bar-press is called an operant. It does not matter how the rat presses the bar—with its paw, its tail, or its nose—the operant is the same because the consequences are the same, the eventual production of food (Smith & Sarason 18). By means of scheduling the reinforcement—the reward of food—for various numbers of bar-presses or at various time intervals, remarkably stable patters of bar-pressing may be observed. Skinner has extended to education his idea that behavior can be controlled best in restricted environments.

Teaching machines developed by him and his students immediately label correct or incorrect students’ answers to questions programmed into the machines. Thus, the students are given prompt reinforcement for the required response. According to Skinner, operant conditioning may be used to control one’s own behavior as well as he behavior of others. Only by arranging conditions so that one’s behavior is reinforced can self-control and smoking clinic made use of operant conditioning. Skinner’s ideas have also been used in behavior therapy. He believes that undesirable behavior exists, at least in part, because it is reinforced.

For example, a parent may reinforce a child’s tantrums by paying more attention to the child. Through therapy, undesirable behavior may be changed by removing the reinforcement for it and reinforcing instead some other, preferable response. III. Discussion A. Skinner and Radical Behaviourism By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, Freud’s method of introspection had dominated American psychology. It has become the norm and a traditional method. However, a new set of theory had developed out from dissatisfaction of the introspection method.

They were convinced that the introspective method has insurmountable limitations for revealing the nature of man. They were certain that consciousness could not be accurately studied at all and decided to discard it entirely from their scientific work. Some had even denied the existence of consciousness merely because one person cannot observe it in another. Instead, they turned to man’s overt behaviour, which they studied through objective methods (Smith & Sarason 18). Their study delved into the environmental causes and how these elicit a response from an individual.

This approach had come to be known as behaviourism, which also formed the basis for experimental research in the field of psychology (“The Behaviourist Approach”). A leading contemporary figure of behaviourism is B. F. Skinner of Harvard University. Skinner does not deny that mental events, images, and feelings occur within us (B. F. Skinner. “Are Theories of Learning Necessary? ”), although he maintains that these are themselves behaviours rather then causes (R. Smith, I. Sarason, and B. Sarason. “The Behavioural Perspective: Humans as Reactors”).

Theirs was a psychology based on stimulus-response connections, which they believed were established through a process much like the “association of ideas” first suggested by Aristotle and developed by the British philosophers of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. The basic concept of the behaviourists was that behaviour grows more complex through this process of forming new connections between stimuli and responses originally unrelated. Thus, in viewing man’s behaviour as made up of discrete, independent stimulus-response units, behaviourism was atomistic in its approach.

It proposes that much of our behaviour is dependent upon immediate consequences. A person learns certain behaviours as he reacts (responds) to a stimulus in the environment (see Are Theories of Learning Necessary? ”). When such responses are positively reinforced, it is prone to be adapted. Through the process of shaping in Skinner’s operant conditioning (a significant contribution to the school of behaviourism), it could even allow for the eventual emergence of responses not yet in the person’s existing behavioural storehouse.

Skinner likens the process of behaviour shaping to the way clay is moulded by the sculptor to assume its final form. A considerable contrast to Freud’s psychoanalytic approach then of behaviourism is the latter’s argument that the proper subject matter of psychology was observable, or overt, behaviour, not unobservable inner consciousness. Whereas psychoanalysis believes that behaviour is caused by the unconscious, in contrast, behaviourists see human beings as a product of their learning histories. Behaviourists argue that it is erroneous to believe that human behaviour is caused by inner factors.

Skinner says that this diverts the attention from the real causes of behaviour, which reside in the outer world. If human beings are to be changed, indeed saved, Skinner maintains, we must manipulate the environment that determines behaviour through its pattern of rewards and punishments (see The Behaviourist Approach”). Skinner believes that large-scale control over human behaviour is possible today but that the chief barrier to social engineering is an outmoded conception of people as free agents. Since Freud and Skinner’s basis for behaviour contrasts significantly, so does its approach to modification.

Skinner and his colleagues staunchly recommend that behaviour can be controlled completely by manipulating their environment, and not through Freud’s internal introspection. IV. Conclusion In conclusion, B. F Skinner basic assumption is based on the belief that all behaviors, “normal or deviant” are governed by the same learning principles. Behaviorism originated with John B. Watson around 1913 and was carried on later by such well-known psychologists as Clark Hull and B. F. Skinner. Watson argued that it is impossible to study in scientific way phenomena that can be known only through subjective reports.

If psychology was to be a science, he said, psychologists would have to concentrate on objective analysis of observable behavior, such as movements and speech; they would have to stop attempting the study of such as mental phenomena as consciousness and thought, except insofar as these phenomena were reveled in behavior. It was not that Watson had no interest in so-called mental phenomena. In fact, during the early days of behaviorism, he formulated a theory that explained thinking as subvocalization — as movements of the vocal chords that were so light as to produce no sound.

This theory, if it had been correct, would have allowed behaviorists to study thinking by analyzing the movements of the vocal cords. It was soon pointed out, however, that some thinking occurs so rapidly that the subvocalized sounds would have to be made at frequencies well beyond the physical capacity of the vocal cords, and so the effort to treat thinking as subvocalization has largely been abandoned. Reference: 1. The Behaviourist Approach”. http://www. ryerson. ca/~glassman/behavior. html 2. Skinner, B. F.

“Are Theories of Learning Necessary? ” http://psychclassics. yorku. ca/Skinner/Theories/ 3. Smith R, Sarason I, and Sarason B. “The Behavioural Perspective: Humans as Reactors”. Psychology, The Frontiers of Behavior. 1986. p. 18 OUTLINE I. Introduction A. What is motivation? Motivation is a term used in psychology to mean the cause of behavior that is persistently directed toward a goal. A simple reflex action, such as jerking one’s hand away from a hot stove, is not said to be motivated in the psychological sense.

Motivation is usually made up of a combination of motives, which may also be called drives, incentives, or interests. Thesis Statement: This study summarizes the field of motivation and BF Skinners theoretical views and discuss his impact on the motivation field. II. Background A. Who Bf Skinner is B. F. Skinner was the foremost behavioral psychologist in the United States. Behavioral psychology, as distinguished from the earlier, mentalistic school which focused on the mind of man, is concerned with predicting and controlling the behavior of organisms, man included.

III. Discussion A. Skinner and Radical Behaviourism By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, Freud’s method of introspection had dominated American psychology. It has become the norm and a traditional method. However, a new set of theory had developed out from dissatisfaction of the introspection method. IV. Conclusion In conclusion, B. F Skinner basic assumption is based on the belief that all behaviors, “normal or deviant” are governed by the same learning principles.

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