Write 6 pages thesis on the topic the behaviourist concept of operant conditioning. Skinner. He was a behaviourist who studied comparative psychology. Compared to Watson, his ideas were less extreme. He acknowledged the existence of the mind but elaborated that the objective study of human behaviour based on observable behaviour is better than dealing with the internal facets. Considered as one of the greatest theorists of behaviourism, he is responsible for coining the term “operant conditioning” and likewise developing the theory of operant conditioning (Wagner, 2009).
Expanding from the former ideas of fellow theorists Thorndike and Pavlov, Skinner’s theory asserted that learning was a result of a change in observable behaviour (Skinner, 1938). In this theory, he described the consequences of behaviour in the succeeding occurrence of a particular behaviour. He stated that the changes in behaviour are outcomes of an individual’s response to certain events, referred to as stimuli, existing in the environment. The response will then result to a particular consequence which may manifest in the form of action. Once this pattern of stimulus and response is reinforced or rewarded, the response will then be conditioned to occur as triggered by the stimulus.
One important element in the theory of operant conditioning is reinforcement. Defined in the context of Skinner’s theory, reinforcement or reinforcer, refers to any circumstance or event that would increase or strengthen the desired response or a particular behaviour (Levine, 1999). It can be in the form of verbal praise or through direct rewards like food or money. In line with reinforcement, the ideas of positive and negative reinforcement are introduced. Positive reinforcement refers to favourable events or results that are awarded after the manifestation of a particular behaviour.