Dynamics of Personality: CH. 8, Psychoanalytic Learning Theories, B.F. Skinner


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B.F. Skinner: General Idea
Took beliefs of Watson to their extreme
Behavior can be completely understood in terms of responses to environmental factors
“Personality” and internal structures of the mind are superfluous (“fictions”)
Well known for
Behavioral conditioning
Reinforcement theory
Classical/Respondent Behaviors
Refers to reflexes/automatic responses
e.g., touching a hot stove, pulling hand away
Can also be conditioned, e.g., Pavlov
Operant Behavior
Learned based on consequences; more complex behaviors
Stimulus does not have to be present
Anything that increases the likelihood of a behavior
Increasing Behavior
Use positive and negative reinforcers
Positive Reinforcer
Something being added that increase a behavior being elicited
Ex: candy for cleaning up; praise for good performance
Negative Reinforcer
Something aversive is taken away
Ex: aspirin relieves a headache

Remember, reinforcers increase behavior

Decreasing Behavior
DRO – Direct Reinforcement of Other (desired) behavior
Anything that follows a behavior and leads to a decreased likelihood that the behavior will occur again
Problems with Punishment
Does not teach desired behavior
Can lead to aversive reaction to punisher, not behavior
Can block a behavior, may not eliminate it
Withholding reinforcement until the behavior goes away
Ex: ignoring temper tantrums
Letting the behavior occur until the person gets tired of it
Ex: eating an entire cake
DRO – Direct Reinforcement of Other (desired) Behavior
Adds reinforcement to promote behavior
Operant Conditioning
Learn to do things that are reinforced; stop doing things that are ignored or punished
Makes behavior either increase or decrease
Deliberately molding responses though series of reinforcement sin order to achieve desired behavior
Rewarding successive approximations to a goal
Telling the difference between behaviors that are and are not reinforced
Applying a response learned in one situation to another situation
Reinforcement Schedules
Two variables can change
1. Fixed or variable
1. Consistently or inconsistently
2. Time or product
1. Interval or rate
Four Schedules
Skinner on Assessment
What is there to assess
Observable behavior!
Functional Analysis
Observing frequency of behavior, the situation on which it occurs. And reinforcement associated with it
Behavior observations
NOT — self-reports of behavior (mentalism)
Physiological measurements of behavior
Ex: heart rate, blood pressure, brain waves, etc. in response to something
Free Will?
Skinner: There is no such thing as internal self-control
Self Control
The ability to exert control over the variables that determine our behavior
4 Types of Self – Control
1. Stimulus Avoidance
2. Self-Administered Satiation
3. Aversion Stimulation
4. Self-Reinforcement
Stimulus Avoidance
Avoid stimulus
Ex: turn the channel when an annoying commercial comes on; don’t buy cookies while dieting
Self-Administered Satiation
Purposely overdo a bad habit to rid yourself of the behavior
Ex: eat ice cream so often that you no longer crave it
Aversion Stimulation
Provide self with undesired consequences for unwanted behavior
Ex: Not going out this weekend for going out too much last weekend
Reward self for desirable behavior
Ex: Go out to dinner when get a good grade
Theory Critique
Comprehensiveness: A
Only described behavioral actions well
His early work with rats and pigeons
Precision and Testability: A
A real strength
Applied Value: A-
Learning principles
Token economies
Schools, correctional institutions, and hospitals

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