Skinner’s Research on Human Behavior

Skinner’sResearch on Human Behavior

Skinner’sResearch on Human Behavior

Skinner,unlike most of the psychologists, developed his theory of learningusing observable data alone. Most of these observable data wereobtained from the animal laboratories (Frager &amp Fadiman, 2013).Skinner’s research work was based on observable behavior because hebelieved that the most appropriate way to study behavior is toinvestigate the cause of a given action as well as its consequences(McLeod, 2007). This means that the study of human behavior orlearning should not take into account the personality or the innerworkings.

TheSkinner’s research resulted in the identification of patterns thatare responsible for stability of changes in human behavior. Skinneridentified that operant behavior is regulated by its ownconsequences. The conclusion of Skinner’s observations was that alltypes of behavior that occur naturally can be in human or animals canbe trained to occur in any direction, including more strongly or moreoften (Frager &amp Fadiman, 2013). Conditioning is dependent onevents that take place after a given behavior has been completed.This is because operant or spontaneous behaviors are controlled bytheir consequences.

Thereare three facts that can be inferred from Skinner’s study of thevariables affecting operant conditioning. First, it is possible foroperant conditioning to be done without the awareness of the subjectbeing conditioned. This means that conditioning can be done duringthe wake as well as during the sleep states. Secondly, conditioningcan be maintained even when the subjects are aware that they arebeing conditioned. This means that the resistance of the subject tothe process of conditioning cannot prevent the subjects from beingconditioned (Frager &amp Fadiman, 2013). Third, successfulconditioning requires the collaboration of the subjects in case theyare aware that the process of conditioning is taking place. Inconclusion, Skinner made a significant contribution to the field ofpsychology by suggesting that studying observable behavior is moreeffective than focusing on the inner mind.


Frager,R., &amp Fadiman, J. (2013). Personalityand personal growth (7th ed.).Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

McLeod,S. (2007). Skinner-Operant conditioning. SimplyPsychology.Retrieved September 16, 2014, from