Burrhus F. Skinner

Verplanck, W S (1954) Burrhus F. Skinner. [Book Chapter]

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In dealing with Skinner, we are concerned with a theorist who now espouses no theory, a systematist whose system is still developing, and a constructive thinker some of whose most important contributions have been those of a critic. In the course of his writings, Skinner has presented the results of a comprehensive experimental program, and elaborated a theory of behavior based upon it. Since its publication in comprehensive form in The Behavior of Organisms, he has, one may infer from more recent writings, modified it greatly by eliminating several central concepts without substituting others. These publications are not sufficient to enable us to analyze the system in its current status, so that we will restrict ourselves to its earlier form. From an examination of this theory, we may learn something of the reasons for its alteration, and perhaps reveal some relationships between the adequacy of the theory as it was stated and the procedures which were followed in its construction. That portions of the theory as it was presented in 1938 no longer find complete acceptance is not relevant to our purpose; much may be learned from autopsies. The revision of Sinner's theoretical views has not extended downward to his basic assumptions with respect to the nature of psychological theory, nor to the elementary statements of much of his data language and of the basic laws of behavior. The systematic position is unchanged. It is largely at the level at which complex concepts are introduced that revisions have been made.

Item Type:Book Chapter
Subjects:Psychology > Behavioral Analysis
Biology > Behavioral Biology
Psychology > Perceptual Cognitive Psychology
Psychology > Social Psychology
ID Code:601
Deposited By: Verplank, William
Deposited On:26 Feb 1998
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:54


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