Thursday, April 29, 2010

Experimental analysis of behavior

The American psychologist BF F. Skinner was one of the most illustrious representatives of behaviorism, psychology current Anglo-Saxon particularly important to the First World War to the 50s. This course is based on the idea that scientific explanation in psychology to ignore any reference to the conscience of the individual, study only the external behavior observed experimentally. Behaviorists - or behaviourist - then leave aside the mental processes (the brain is considered a "black box"), in their non-objectified, to focus on behavior, seen as responses to the individual environmental stimuli.

For Skinner, the question is how learning takes place from the observation of behavior. In the experimental analysis of behavior that is the most comprehensive statement of its design, the center of which is the "operant conditioning". The actions of the individual can be followed by either a "positive reinforcement" (eg reward) or a "negative reinforcement" as a punishment. Thus he learns. The individual will in fact behave himself avoiding negative reinforcement and increasing positive reinforcement.

The invention of a method.

According to Skinner, the quasi-totality of human and animal behavior can be explained by operant conditioning. Her work will particularly affect the psychology of learning and, in the 60s, Skinner invented a method for learning in education: it provides the student with tasks of increasing complexity, increasing rewards for knowledge that seeks to develop. Because for Skinner, what education, if the organization of "reinforcement contingencies that accelerate learning? In his book, Skinner developed his thoughts on operant conditioning, believing that fields as diverse as psychotherapy, economics and politics are also based on reinforcement between action and response. This is generally the case of social life, since "the group members teach each other, [...] to stimulate one another to work [...] and necessary moral sanctions which have the same effect as laws enacted by governments. They do it naturally, by organizing various contingencies of reinforcement. This will strengthen a behavior is not determined but evolves according to the genetic history of the species, or different cultures. For example, a new custom is selected only if its consequences are positive for the community. Behaviorism was long hegemony, while being heavily criticized for not taking into account internal processes such as motivation or memory. It has been gradually supplanted by a cognitive approach, which refuses to rule analysis what happens "inside" of the individual, what he saw or felt subjectively, even seeing it as the basis for the development of behavior.

1969 Burrhus Frederic Skinner

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