BF Skinner Biography

BF Skinner is an American psychologist, known for his influence on behaviorism. Skinner calls his own philosophy “radical behaviorism” and believes that the concept of free will is just an illusion. On the contrary, he believes that all human behavior is the direct result of conditioning.

most famous

Many of his discoveries, inventions, and achievements include the creation of an operational conditioning room (aka Skinner Box), his research on enhanced timelines, the introduction of reaction rates as a dependent variable in the research, and the creation and tracking of cumulative recorders These response rates.

In a survey, Skinner was named the most influential psychologist of the 20th century.

Life and death

  • Born: March 20, 1904
  • Date of death: August 18, 1990


Burhrus Frederic Skinner was born and raised in Susquehanna, a small town in Pennsylvania. His father was a lawyer and his mother was a housewife. He grew up with a brother who was two years younger than him. He later described his childhood in Pennsylvania as “warm and stable.”

As a boy, he likes to build and invent things; a skill he will later use in his own psychological experiments. His younger brother Edward died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 16.

During high school, Skinner became interested in scientific reasoning through extensive research on Francis Bacon’s writings.

In 1926, he went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Hamilton College.

After earning his undergraduate degree, he decided to become a writer, a period of time he later called a “dark year.” During this period, despite the encouragement and guidance of the famous poet Robert Frost, he only wrote a dozen short newspaper articles, and was soon disappointed in his literary talent.

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While working as a clerk in a bookstore, Skinner came across the works of Pavlov and Watson by chance, which became a turning point in his life and career. Inspired by these works, Skinner decided to abandon his career as a novelist and enter Harvard University to pursue a postgraduate course in psychology.

After obtaining a doctorate. After graduating from Harvard in 1931, Skinner continued to work at the university for the next five years, thanks to scholarships. During this period, he continued to study operational behavior and operational conditioning. He married Yvonne Bleu in 1936, and the couple later had two daughters, Julie and Deborah.


While at Harvard, Skinner became interested in studying human behavior in an objective and scientific way. He developed what he called an operational adjustment device, which later became known as the “Skinner Box.”

The “Skinner Box” device is a room with a stick or key that animals can press to receive food, water or other forms of reinforcement.

It was during this time at Harvard that he also invented the cumulative recorder, a device that records responses as slashes. By looking at the slope of the line representing the response rate, Skinner was able to see that the response rate depends on what happens after the animal presses the bar.

That is, a higher response rate follows the reward, while a lower response rate follows the lack of reward. The device also allowed Skinner to see that the reinforcement plan used also affects the response rate.

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Using this device, he found that behavior was not as dependent on previous stimuli as Watson and Pavlov insisted.Instead, Skinner discovered that behavior depends on what happens Rear response. Skinner called it operational behavior.

Pigeon Project

After getting married, Skinner held a faculty position at the University of Minnesota. During his teaching at the University of Minnesota and during World War II, Skinner became interested in helping the war. Since there was no missile guidance system at the time, he received funding for a project that involved training pigeons to guide bombs.

In the so-called “pigeon project,” the pigeon is placed in the nose cone of the missile and is trained to peck at the target, and then guide the missile to the intended target. The project was never realized because the development of the radar was also in progress, although Skinner had considerable success with pigeons.

Although the project was eventually cancelled, it did bring some interesting discoveries. Skinner was even able to teach pigeons to play table tennis.

Baby tender

In 1943, BF Skinner also invented the “baby shake” at the request of his wife. It should be noted that baby tendering is different from the “Skinner Box” used in Skinner’s experimental research.

He created an enclosed heated crib with plexiglass windows in response to his wife’s request for a safer alternative to traditional cribs. Ladies Home Magazine An article titled “Baby in a Box” was printed on the crib, partly because of some misunderstandings about the intended use of the crib.

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Later events also led to further misunderstandings about Skinner’s crib.

In her 2004 book Open Skinner’s Box: The Great Psychological Experiment of the 20th Century, Author Lauren Slater mentioned an often cited rumor that baby tenders were actually used as experimental devices.

There are rumors that Skinner’s daughter was the subject, and she committed suicide. Slater’s book pointed out that this was nothing more than a rumor, but later reviews of the book incorrectly pointed out that her book supported these claims. This led to Skinner’s surviving daughter Deborah’s angry and enthusiastic refutation of the rumors.

[1945 年,斯金纳搬到印第安纳州布卢明顿,并成为印第安纳大学心理学系主任。 1948 年,他加入了哈佛大学的心理学系,即使在 1974 年退休后,他仍然在那里任职。


在斯金纳的操作性条件反射过程中, 操作数 指任何影响环境并导致后果的行为。 他将操作行为(在我们控制下的行为)与响应行为进行了对比,他将其描述为任何条件反射或自动发生的行为,例如当您不小心碰到热锅时将手指向后猛拉。

斯金纳将强化定义为任何能强化其遵循的行为的事件。 他确定的两种强化类型是正强化(奖励或表扬等有利结果)和负强化(消除不利结果)。







斯金纳在 1953 年参加了他女儿的数学课后,也对教育和教学产生了兴趣。斯金纳指出,没有一个学生收到任何关于他们表现的即时反馈。

有的学生很挣扎,无法完成问题,而有的学生很快就完成了,但真的没有学到任何新东西。 相反,斯金纳认为最好的方法是创造某种可以塑造行为的设备,提供增量反馈,直到实现所需的响应。

他首先开发了一种数学教学机器,可以在每个问题后立即提供反馈。 然而,这个最初的设备实际上并没有教授新技能。

最终,他能够开发出一种机器,可以提供增量反馈并以一系列小步骤呈现材料,直到学生获得新技能,这一过程称为程序化教学。 斯金纳后来出版了他关于教学和教育的著作集,题为 教学技术.



借鉴他以前的文学生涯,斯金纳还用小说来表达他的许多理论思想。 在他 1948 年的书中 瓦尔登湖二号,斯金纳描述了一个虚构的乌托邦社会,在这个社会中,人们通过使用操作性条件反射被训练成为理想的公民。

他 1971 年的书 超越自由和尊严 也使他成为争议的避雷针,因为他的作品似乎暗示人类并没有真正拥有自由意志。 他 1974 年的书 关于行为主义 部分是为了消除有关他的理论和研究的许多谣言。

在晚年,斯金纳继续写他的生活和他的理论。 1989年,他被诊断出患有白血病。

就在他去世前八天,斯金纳获得了美国心理学会颁发的终身成就奖,当他领奖时,他在拥挤的礼堂发表了 15 分钟的演讲。 他于 1990 年 8 月 18 日去世。


  • 1966 年美国心理学会 Edward Lee Thorndike 奖
  • 1968 年 – Lyndon B. Johnson 总统授予的国家科学奖章
  • 1971 – 美国心理基金会金奖
  • 1972 – 年度人文主义者奖
  • 1990 – 美国心理学会杰出终身贡献奖


  • Skinner, BF (1935) 两种类型的条件反射和一种伪类型。 普通心理学杂志,12, 66-77。
  • Skinner, BF (1948) 鸽子中的“迷信”。 实验心理学杂志,38, 168-172。
  • Skinner, BF (1950) 学习理论是否必要? 心理评论,57, 193-216。
  • 斯金纳,BF (1971) 超越自由和尊严
  • Skinner, BF (1989) 认知思想的起源。 美国心理学家,44 岁, 13-18。


斯金纳是一位多产的作家,发表了近 200 篇文章和 20 多本书。 在 2002 年的心理学家调查中,他被认定为 20 世纪最有影响力的心理学家。 虽然行为主义不再是一种占主导地位的思想流派,但他在操作性条件反射方面的工作今天仍然至关重要。

心理健康专业人员在与客户合作时经常使用操作技术,教师经常使用强化来塑造课堂行为,动物训练师严重依赖这些技术来训练狗和其他动物。 斯金纳非凡的遗产在心理学和从哲学到教育的众多其他领域都留下了持久的印记。


BF Skinner Biography
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