- NAME: B.F. Skinner
- OCCUPATION: Academic, Academic Author
- BIRTH DATE: March 20, 1904
- DEATH DATE: August 18, 1990
- EDUCATION: Harvard University, Hamilton College
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Susquehanna, Pennsylvania
- PLACE OF DEATH: Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Full Name: Burrhus Frederic Skinner
- AKA: Burrhus Skinner
- AKA: Burrhus F. Skinner
- AKA: B.F. Skinner
Best Known For
American psychologist B.F. Skinner is best known for developing the theory of behaviorism, and for his utopian novel Walden Two (1948).
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He later wrote The Technology of Teaching (1968).
Skinner presented a fictional interpretation of some of his views in the 1948 novel Walden Two,
which proposed a type of utopian society. The people in the society were led to be good citizens through behavior modification—a system of rewards and punishments. The novel seemed to undermine Skinner's credibility with some of his academic colleagues. Others questioned his focus on scientific approaches to the exclusion of less tangible aspects of human existence.
In the late 1960s and early '70s, Skinner wrote several works applying his behavioral theories to society, including Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971). He drew fire for seemingly implying that humans had no free will or individual consciousness. Noam Chomsky was among Skinner's critics. In 1974, Skinner tried to set the record straight regarding any misinterpretations of his work with About Behaviorism.
In his later years, B.F. Skinner took to chronicling his life and research in a series of autobiographies. He also continued to be active in the field of behavioral psychology—field he helped popularize. In 1989, Skinner was diagnosed with leukemia. He succumbed to the disease the following year, dying at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on August 18, 1990.
While many of his behavioral theories have fallen out of favor, Skinner's identification of the importance of reinforcement remains a critical discovery. He believed that positive reinforcement was a great tool for shaping behavior, an idea still valued in numerous settings including schools today. Skinner's beliefs are still being promoted by the B.F. Skinner Foundation, which is headed by his daughter, Julie S. Vargas.
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