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Behavioral Analysis Theory by B. F. Skinner Essay

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Updated: Mar 2nd, 2021

Assumptions

B. F. Skinner assumes that the person’s behavior is caused by environmental effects because it is a natural phenomenon.

Thus, the person’s behavior can be explained only with references to external factors or stimuli. In this case, the person’s internal states such as thoughts or desires are not important to cause the behavior.

As a result, Skinner assumes that there is no free will to influence a person’s behavior.

Any changes in the behavior can be explained with references to classical and operant conditioning. From this point, environmental stimuli in the form of positive or negative reinforcement and positive or negative punishment can influence different types of behaviors without the impact of internal factors (Feist & Feist, 2008).

Natural selection and the evolution of cultures are two more factors to affect a person’s behavior.

Reliability

It is possible to discuss Skinner’s theory as reliable because it is based on significant research in the field and on the observation data.

The Behavioral Analysis Theory provides the significant base and background for further research on the origins and causes of the person’s behavior (Feist & Feist, 2008). Thus, the theory is reliable and appropriate to generate the research.

The theory assumptions are supported with references to the results and findings of the laboratory studies, and this fact contributes to the discussion of the theory as rather reliable in comparison with the other theories which are based on observations.

Skinner refers to the scientific approach as the main one to provide the sources for the development of the effective theory.

Validity

The theory can be discussed as validated when its assumptions and basic principles are approved with references to the other researches. Skinner’s ideas based on the laboratory studies are approved by many researchers specializing in the field.

Nevertheless, the problem is in the fact that the data of the laboratory studies and surveys can also be falsified.

Furthermore, the focus on observation as the main method limits the possibilities for the theory’s development. On the other hand, the concentration on the empirical observation provides the grounds for supporting the assumptions with the help of the empirical data (Feist & Feist, 2008; Fryling, 2013, p. 157).

Application

In spite of the fact that Skinner claims that psychotherapy is developed to control and predict the person’s behavior and this approach violates the natural laws, the Behavioral Analysis Theory is actively used in working with patients in order to analyze their history of reinforcement.

Thus, the theory is effective to examine and analyze the personal history of reinforcement in order to focus on the aspects and stimuli which can cause inappropriate behaviors. The work with these stimuli which can be unconscious by the patient can lead to positive results.

Furthermore, the principle of reinforcement and punishment is actively applied in relation to the people’s social life, and the further study of this principle’s effects on people’s behaviors is important for psychotherapy (Vargas, 2013, p. 167).

The ideas and concepts of the Behavioral Analysis Theory oriented to self-control and social control can be effectively used to work with the persons’ inappropriate social behaviors and when patients experience problems with self-control and self-regulation.

References

Feist, J., & Feist, G. (2008). Theories of personality. USA: McGraw-Hill Humanities.

Fryling, M. (2013). Constructs and events in verbal behavior. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 29(1), 157-165.

Vargas, E. (2013). The importance of form in Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior and a further step. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 29(1), 167-183.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Behavioral Analysis Theory by B. F. Skinner." March 2, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/behavioral-analysis-theory-by-b-f-skinner/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Behavioral Analysis Theory by B. F. Skinner'. 2 March.

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