6) B. F. Skinner: Operant Conditioning

Following Pavlov’s exploration of the phenomenon of Classical Conditioning came a large number of experiments and studies into the methods and processes of learning. Subsequently, this era shaped and greatly influenced the work of psychologists for decades to come, giving us some of the biggest names in various fields. (B. F. Skinner in this segment, O. H. Mowrer (segment 9) and Jean Piaget’s monumental developmental psychology studies (segment 12)).

Renowned American psychologist B. F. Skinner was the second major proponent of behaviourism, after Watson. An extremely prominent figure in the era of behaviourism, his work with pigeons and rats, as well as his innovation of laboratory technology to measure behaviour in these animals has influenced scientists for generations to come.

The following documentary explains Skinner’s unique place in the history of Behaviourism and psychology, along with his experimental contributions:

The following documentary features experimental footage of pigeons, as well as Skinner explaining these experiments and expressing his views on free will:

The following documentary features yet more experimental footage, depicting pigeons learning various behaviours through operant conditioning:

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