John B Watson, gave the name to what we know today as behaviorism, and this study, placed in the mind the cause of all actions.
Burrhus Frederic Skinner, is also given reasons but radical behaviorism and was placed as one of the most important psychologists of the twentieth century.
B F Skinner then reformulated the law of effect turning it into the law of reinforcement, and was in charge of testing how organisms are capable of learning behaviors and increasing the chances of them being produced again thanks to reinforcements, thus obtaining operant conditioning.
In this sense, Skinner developed with his theory of stimuli that trigger responses, a camera to analyze the behavior of small animals and guide them to perform certain actions.
In the article below, we will explain in more detail what the skinner’s box experiment, its components and features consist of.
What is Skinner’s box?
The Skinner box in a basic and general concept, is a box that contains a lever or any other device that the animal must handle. It is a matter of reward-seeking, usually food.
For theEncyclopaedia Herder, Skinner’s experimental chamber is a mechanism for reinforcing behavior. The first time the animal obtains the reward, it is by trial and error, but through the programmed devices of the system the behavior of the animal is modified according to the desired objective.
Skinner’s box components
These boxes or chambers usually have three basic elements for the correct development of the experiment. And these are: the operandum, discriminative stimulus and the reinforcing device.
Operandum or also known in other research works as Manipulandum, is the process mechanism on which control is exercised for behavior. Controlling, of course, the variables and the environment where this situation unfolds.
It is what shows the subject that the experience is successful. It makes responses that have been reinforced or compensated in your presence more likely. They can be signals such as lights or sounds that are related to the completeness of the activity carried out.
It is the one that records the responses obtained and generates the stimuli (usually pleasant when it has been successful and seeks to reinforce the behavior).
Skinner’s box experiment
With this system, Skinner sought the stabilization or oblivion of behaviors. It was carried out in 1948 and eight pigeons participated. They were placed in a box, which later became known as the Skinner Box, and were given food at intervals independent of their responses.
It was discovered with this phenomenon (although to some extent it was considered superstitious), that the response that the subject under study made just before receiving food was reinforced and considered as a consequence of the appearance of the reward, that is, that this behavior would be the reason for obtaining it.
Some pigeons developed attitudes, such as circling counter-clockwise or hitting the head on the corners of the box in a very particular way.
In this sense, the responses of the scientific field were found. Some support the appearance of the responses in pigeons as development of behavior under reinforcement, and others made the observation that all pigeons usually develop identical behaviors.
However, there were rumors for many years that sullied Skinner’s name, which although they were declared false and discarded over time, spoke of when Skinner used a crib to introduce little Deborah (his daughter), it caused havoc to the height of causing permanent mental illness.
Skinner’s goal with Deborah’s crib was to bolster Deborah’s confidence, comfort, and prevent her from getting sick. That’s when Skinner was synonymous with fear, but nothing was true.
It should be noted that Lauren Slater wrote a book entitled Opening Skinner’s Box and in an interview with one of Skinner’s children they asked about little Deborah and the answer was: “None of that is true. She is an artist and lives in England”
Skinner box features
Skinner’s famous box is an experiment that materialized the law of reinforcement. The main features of this system are mentioned below to better understand the functionality of its objectives.
It was used to analyze operant conditioning
Research de In M. DlozarBlog, he explains that operant conditioning works with a principle of continuous reinforcement. And, later, an intermittent reinforcement is applied in order to stabilize the condition.
With Skinner’s box, the capacity of this paradigm was put into practice and verified, controlling the environment and the variable consequences (positive or negative). With this system then, the stimuli that lead a person to have specific behaviors were analyzed.
studied the behavior of animals
The experiments began with small animals (rats or pigeons), aiming at the exclusive use of limited communication. With this, it was possible to demonstrate that it is the consequences of their actions that will cause the adaptation of their behavior.
It has stimuli mechanisms.
Learning is described by researchers as the modification of observable behavior and that is usually a response to external or internal stimuli. Watson was the father of “Methodological Behaviorism “, and with this he differentiated this application from other previous postulations.
The stimuli are in Skinner’s box (visual or sound), which produced a first reference to attribute the opportunity to commit the action and later receive the compensation that the reinforcement would bring with it.
He sought to reinforce the law of reinforcement
The law of reinforcement evolved from Skinner’s experiments. He sought to modify the Law of Effect with objectivist and non-mentalistic methods. Skinner did not allow it to be defined as the stimulus being the connection for the response, but rather an increase in the probability of the response.
In the PsychestudyArticle entitled“Skinner’s theory on Operant Conditioning“ , it is exposed how for Skinner the best way to understand the behavior of individuals was by analyzing the causes of an action and its consequences.
The responses are the same operand.
The “operand” are the actions performed by an organism that have an effect on the environment. This effect can be positive or negative. If, then, the effect that is produced is positive, the aim is to reinforce the behavior, but if the effect is negative, the frequency of the behavior is being oriented to disappear.
Allowed to predict and control behavior
With the reinforcement of the behavior and its stimuli, the effect and objective of the experiment was based on the learning sequences. It is therefore that the variables were handled for the knowledge and anticipation of the answers.
B. F Skinner considered that the success of the experiment depended on whether the behavior could be controlled or predicted as a result.
It allowed to explain the pathological game
For neuroscience, the contributions of this behavior were of great interest, because a response was obtained from certain interesting behaviors. Pathological gambling is considered a form of non-drug addiction.
In the Psychologists in ActionBlog,he explains how betting houses have variable reward systems, where betting would be giving the lever. Betting several times produces losses and a couple of gains, which causes a highly addictive reaction.
It had repercussions in different areas of psychology
Skinner brought incorporation to psychology through his studies. Especially in the area of behaviorism. In building his theories, even when they were based only on animal studies, they concentrated on behavior.
It is therefore that in his works he proposed systematic ways for behavior and the analysis of applied conditioning.
Skinner, like Pavlov and Watson, also studied reflection. It was then determined as a correlation of events between stimulus and response. They understood that the application of observations would impose order on behavior.
As we have previously mentioned, he also focused on the study of conditioning theory, establishing its conditional dependence and the necessary event as a response.
It allowed to observe other behavioral phenomena
Behaviorism was by then a historical convergence with many influences, but its nature as a psychological doctrine has now been demonstrated.
Skinner emphasized that behaviorism was something internal, external, of experience and behavior, since it evaded the possibility of agreeing with those who considered that it was alien because it was a mental process of private events.
So he allowed behaviorism to be understood as something of logic and investigation. He even allowed the expansion of the different types of behaviorism and what their origins and characteristics were.