Burrhus Frederic Skinner

Hess Václav
Michková Adéla
Pham Thi Bich Hanh
Vaňourek Tomáš
Structure of the presentation
About B. F. Skinner
Behavioral approach
Skinner's box
Reinforcement theory of motivation
Theory in practice
Burrhus Frederic Skinner
"The consequences of
behavior determine the
probability that the
behavior will occur
again" –B. F. Skinner
Burrhus Frederic Skinner
• * March 20, 1904 in Susquehanna
• † August 18 ,1990
• 1926 he received his B.A in English literature at
Hamilton college
• 1931 he received PHD from Harvard university.
• 1945 he was Psychology Department Chair at the
University of Indiana
• 1948 he joined the psychology department at
Harvard University
Some his activities and achievements
• Skinner innovated “radical behaviorism”
• Founded his own school of experimental analysis
of behavior
• Discovered and advanced the rate of response as
a dependent variable in psychological research
• He has 4 famous inventions:
Air crib
operant conditioning chamber
cumulative recorder-teaching machine
Pigeon-guided missile.
The Behavioral Approach
• Skinner showed that by presenting animals or people
with rewards & punishments you could shape their
• Shaping: involves presenting a reinforcement for
each successive approximation of a desired behavior
• E.g., if we want to shape lever pressing in rats, we
would reinforce any behavior that even remotely
resembles lever pressing
Skinner Box
• Skinner created an apparatus that would
present rewards to an organism (animals
& humans!!) based on their behavioral
• He even had his daughter stay
in the box for several experiments
The Skinner Box
Reinforcement theory of motivation
• 1. Positive Reinforcement: Strengthens a response by
presenting something that is perceived as appetitive
(pleasant) after a behavior is emitted.
• E.g., Immediately praising an employee for coming early
for job.
• 2. Negative Reinforcement: strengthens a response by
removing a negative/undesirable consequences after a
behavior is emitted.
• E.g., Constantly being reminded to be more productive.
Reinforcement theory of motivation
• 3. Extinction- It implies absence of reinforcements. In
other words, extinction implies lowering the probability of
undesired behavior by removing reward for that kind of
• E.g., if an employee no longer receives praise and
admiration for his good work, he may feel that his
behavior is generating no fruitful consequence.
• 4. Punishment - Removing positive consequences so as
to lower the probability of repeating undesirable behavior
in future
• E.g., Suspending an employee for breaking the
organizational rules.
Implications of Reinforcement Theory
• Managers have to:
– Set clear and reasonable expectations
– Identify strong motivators
– Encourage desirable behavior
– Effectively use reinforcement
Skinner's theory in practice
Glass, M. How Can Managers Use Reinforcement Theory to Motivate Employees?
[online] Small business. Available from: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/canmanagers-use-reinforcement-theory-motivate-employees-18559.html [Accessed 1
November 2012]
Cherry K. B. F. Skinner Biography (1904-1990) [online] About.com. Available from:
Management study guide. Reinforcement Theory of Motivation [online]
Management study guide. Available from:
[Accessed 1 November 2012]
Thank you for your attention

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