Skinner?s Theory of Personality

Skinners Theory of Personality



Prof. Skinner is nowadays considered among the most prolific and contributive activists in the field of radical behaviorism. Having analyzed series of his studies, it has become evident that these academic works were highly affected by the technology and utilized different machineries in making his experimental studies. Among his major inventions, the famous air crib machine should be most indispensably mentioned. However, as far as his psychological endeavors are concerned, it should be highlighted that they have a number of valid and feeble points.

As a radical behaviorist, Prof. Skinner always considered that the entire activity of the humanity is generated by specific incentives and the way people respond to these incentives. Personally I admire the fact that he managed to aggregate a sufficient probative evidence to support his academic positions. He drawn numerous parallels between the way humans behave in the way animals do too and ultimately found out that we have very much in common. In particular, this postulate defines that our emotions and activity are generated by the innate animal instincts (Frager & Fadiman, 2012). Furthermore, it has been welcomed by his peers. This element of his theory is supported by the outstanding Austrian scholar Sigmund Freud.

Secondly, his canon of parsimony should be understood as another pillar of his theory. These theoretical elements evolve over the axes of the problem of choice. Having two opportunities even the most intelligent and academically prepared human being (the experiment was done on the scholars) are likely to choose the simpler one (Frager & Fadiman, 2012). This postulate is supported by the subsequent work of his followers, as well as by our daily life observations.

Despite the fact that I find his theory highly persuasive and informative, the conceptual framework is far from being absolutely impeachable. In particular, the author actively uses the concepts of freedom, autonomous man dignity and creativity. However, it is reported that that the unanimity on how these concepts should be construed and understood has not been achieved insofar; therefore, it is not explicitly clear what the author purported using this terminology.

As far as his academic recognition is concerned, he was heartily welcomed by the classical and contemporary behaviorists, who position the concept of reinforcement as the key determinant to understanding psychology, as well as humanists and classical philosophers in general, and by Alfred North Whitehead in particular.

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The academic framework of this scholar is of immense practical importance for the psychology nowadays. For instance, providing therapy effective drug abstinence treatment, a therapist, following the postulates of Professor Skinner, is likely to identify the motives, which may encourage the person to act accordingly.


With regard to the daily probative evidence of his academic endeavors, it should be stressed that our routine life completely confirms his scholarly assumptions. Firstly, his famous canon of parsimony is one of the most evidentiary illustrations in this context. Multiple questionnaires distributed among the law school graduates demonstrated that 71% of the newly qualified legal practitioners decided to practice law not because of the motives of social responsibility, particular legal inclination or other stimulus, but because they did not have to study of mathematics or physics in the course of their curriculums, since these academic disciplines are considered among the hardest and mentally consuming. The incomes ultimately accrued by the lawyers and mathematics are almost identical, so the future professionals decided not to work excessively. Besides, my personal experience suggests that his postulate is indeed valid and academically legitimate. In particular, facing the need to calculate something, I always use electronic calculators and do not conduct the calculations manually. This observation supports the idea that the humankind always tends to act in the simplest way.

Secondly, his concept of reinforcement or stimulus is also observable every day. In fact, all humans taking a particular action are always motivated by something. This something may be of monetary and nonmonetary natures. For instance, I asked my parents why they decided to marry, excluding the explanation that the simply love each other. The response was quite predictable, since they explained that the major stimulus for the marriage was mutual usual care, the unanimous desire to procreate offsprings and have someone, who would take care for themselves and the growing progeny. Obviously, these findings are completely consistent with the animal instincts, for which the instance of self-reproduction and self-defense are the predominant ones.

Thirdly, it is explicitly evident today that the reinforcements identified by the professor at issue can be of positive or negative natures. While the positive ones increase our desire to take specific actions (for instance, for the majority of my peers, the critical incentive to pursue a high degree was described as the desire to provide them and their families financially), the negative ones make us repulse and abstained from specific actions (for instance, the fear of lung cancer makes us give up on smoking and abusing other substances).

The last, but not the least daily confirmation of his operating conditioning theory is the way the majority of the parents bring up their children. To exemplify, the good behavior of the kids is often encouraged by giving them sweeties and gentle treatment, like padding on the heads and telling them how wonderful and perfect children they are, while a child, whose behavior and discipline are troublesome, is always discouraged from acting this way by means of punishments ("you will not go for a walk your friends") or oral reprimands ("what a mischievous little boy you are!").

Overall, my firm opinion that the theory of radical behaviorism is the most relevant among the rest of the personality theories developed to explain the reasons of a particular human demeanor.

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