B. F. Skinner and Behavior Conditioning

Behavior conditioning is viewed as a significant psychopathological influence that extends beyond the concept of psychoanalysis and sexual psychology. Burrhus Frederic Skinner (1904-1990) considers the concept of conditioning as comprehensive type of learning wherein behavioral changes are manipulated rather than intrinsically stimulated. According to the article of Moore (2002), behavior conditioning of Skinner gives rise to two primary components: (1) the biological foundation of behavior manipulation through hormonal systems and other physiologic relations (e. g. neurologic functioning, genetic relationships, etc.

), and (2) the occurrence of the behavioral event. Behavior conditioning is the indirect manipulation of activities in order to elicit a behavioral response or behavioral pattern. B. F. Skinner’s idea of behavior conditioning revolves in his concept of Operant Conditioning, which is a type of learning process wherein stimulation of behaviors illicit behavioral modifications. According to the article of O’Donohue and Plaud (1994), Skinner’s behavioral conditioning involves a mutual relationship between the strengthening and weakening effects rendered by environmental consequences.

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The mutual relationship between (1) reinforcement and (2) punishment is directed by a stimulus control. According to B. F. Skinner, “human behavior is not a simple machine-like product of a stimulus, but is something dynamic, changing and in flux, as the environment is in influx”. Behavior conditioning of B. F. Skinner, indeed, constitutes environmental reinforcements and punishments that set the behavioral trends of a human being. Discussion Behavioral Conditioning
The psychological activities fostering behavior in an individual are said to be dynamic, ever changing and mutually linked with the external forces of the human environment. Skinner has observed early on that a large part of our behavior is not automatically elicited by an unconditioned stimulus. According to Moore (2002), the concept of behavioral conditioning is associated to the process of survival wherein a human being is directed to a specific pattern of behavior in order to foster adaptation towards the changing environment.
Skinner’s operant conditioning can be viewed as a diverse behavioral process that evolves and influences the individual’s survival during its lifetime by facilitating the adaptation towards the environment (Moore, 2002). The consequence behavior is the result of the individual’s way of adaptation towards the environment. In the process of the individual’s adaptation, the “environment in turn acts back on the behavior and on the individual: both are changed as a result of reciprocal behavior-environment interchange (Skinner, 1953)”.
According to Burgess (1997), Skinner’s idea of behavior conditioning comprises of three perceivable components that explain to the process of behavioral modification. These elements are (1) the inner activities of behavior, (2) nature of inner behavior, and (3) the role of the environment. Inner activities include the cognitive processes and activities (e. g. thinking, problem solving, decision-making, etc. ) that an individual performs prior to the adaptation of behavior.
Meanwhile, the nature of inner behavior is assessed whether the individual’s behavioral change is due to the evolution of society or external environment (phylogenetic) or genetically acquired (ontogenetic). Lastly, the environment facilitates the learning atmosphere that reinforces the permanent change of behavior in the individual (Burgess, 1997). In application of this theoretical proposition, the behavioral transformation of 12-year old that initiates a bullying behavior at school is first established by an inner assessment of self and environment.
The child analyzes the capacity of his strength over the others in the class, and then further internalizes the nature of his preferred action. Reinforcers of this behavior can either be other classmates influencing him to bully others or his intrinsic psychological desire to bully others. In a well-appropriate environment where the subject is regarded as the strongest, the chance of producing a bullying behavior to 12-year old boy is more likely (Burgess, 1997; O’ Donohue and Plaud 1994).
As for the analysis above, behavior conditioning is therefore affected by three major components, namely (1) the inner self, (2) the environment and (3) the process of behavioral adaptation. However, according to Moore (2002), another contributing factor to consider is the biological foundation of behavior. In Moore’s (2002) argument derived from Skinner’s behavioral conditioning, the influence of hormonal and genetic compositions is another perspective of behavior modifications.
“The science of behavior is concerned with behavior directly selected according to phylogenic contingencies, via inherited genetic mechanisms (Moore 2002)”. The contributions of genetics to causal behavioral events are said to be due to the sensitivity of nervous function to environmental stimulation. Skinner suggests that some behaviors dominating in an individual are not externally fostered, rather elicited only by the environment or other forms of reinforcements (Moore 2002). Components of Behavior Conditioning B. F.
Skinner’s view of behavioral conditioning comprises of diverse factors, specifically (1) the material environment during the lifetime of the individual organism (Moore 2002), (2) inner activities and nature of a behavior – phylogenetic (Moore 2002; Burgess 1997), (3) the Gene-Behavior relationship (Moore 2002), and (4) the reciprocal behavior-environment interchange (O’ Donohue and Plaud 1994). In these four contributing factors of behavior conditioning, Skinner, in his operant conditioning, has proposed two essential balancing components: (1) positive reinforcements (rewards), and (2) negative reinforcements (punishments).
Operant conditioning involves the functional relationships between behavior events and environmental events. Consequent behaviors can be demonstrated by systematic and controlled changes in the environment. To Skinner, “there are three-term contingency that exemplifies the relationship among antecedents, behavior and consequences. ” Most activities that human beings perform socially provide the context for other people to react according to these activities in one way or another; thereby, initiating consequences of behavior.
Such principle is also true in terms of physical environment through the presence of reinforcements, specifically reward systems and punishments. According to Skinner, “behavior is governed to some degree by reinforcement, which can be organized in endless variety of ways according to reinforcements and punishments. ” In addition by Moore (2002), reinforcements largely depend on the environmental settings and the behavioral nature present in the individual. Negative and positive reinforcements act as the behavior leverages that manipulates an individual’s behavior.
According to O’ Donohue and Plaud (1994), behavior conditioning and the basic elements of reinforcements and punishments are defined as the Law of Effect responsible for manipulating both desired and undesired behavioral practices. The main emphasis of behavior modification is to reinforce behaviors that are valuable, and negate those behavioral patterns that are not appropriate. In operant conditioning, the individual’s behavior operates on the environment and determines the occurrence of reinforcements as contingent to the behavioral conditioning.
According to Moore (2002), reinforcements are interrelated to the individual’s survival and adaptation. “Operant conditioning occurs when the probability of a response in the presence of an antecedent stimulus increases because of the prior consequences of the response in the presence of the stimulus in question (Moore 2002)”. Skinner’s view of behavioral conditioning identifies covert, implicit or private events as contributing factors to the mutual relationship between stimuli and the influence on behavior response. Conclusion In conclusion of the study, B.
F. Skinner in his idea of behavioral conditioning emphasizes behavior as a consequence of the relationship between environment and behavioral events. Conditioning behaviors is facilitated by manipulating the external reinforcements, specifically reward systems and/or punishments, derived from the different contributing factors. Behavior conditioning revolves in various contributing factors, namely (1) the inner and nature of behavior, (2) physical environment, (3) biochemical processes of behavior, and (4) reciprocal behavior-environment interchange.
Consequent behaviors are product of the individual’s adaptation in his environment as a form of survival mechanism. References Jensen, R. , & Burgess, H. (1997). Mythmaking: how introductory psychology texts present B. F. Skinner’s analysis of cognition. Journal of Psychological Record, 47, 221-227. Moore, J. (2002). Some Thoughts on the Relation between Behavior Analysis and Behavioral Neuroscience. Journal of Psychological Record, 52, 261-266. O’Donohue, W. , & Plaud, J. (1994). The Conditioning of Human Sexual Arousal. Journal of Sexual Behavior, 23, 221-228.

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