B. F. Skinner’s take on free will

September 5, 2009 at 11:18 pm (Uncategorized)

“I submit that what we call the behavior of the human organism is no more free than its digestion.”

Source.

B. F. Skinner, in 1953, brought about a return to John Watson’s stimulus-response approach. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stimulu…response_model for more information.) He thought that it was the nurture part that determined behavior. This was mainly because, as Watson pointed out, only observable behavior is considered scientifically sound, whereas thoughts were irrelevant.

The fundamental principle that Skinner gave was simple:

Organisms tend to repeat responses that lead to positive outcomes, and they tend not to repeat responses that lead to neutral or negative outcomes.

As a result, behaviorism flourished as the dominant school of thought in psychology during the 1950s and 1960s.

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