Discuss the salient features of Skinner’s theory of personality.

B.F. Skinner is famous for his research on operant conditioning. He found that behaviour did not depend on the preceding stimulus as Watson and Pavlov maintained. Instead, Skinner found that behaviours were dependent upon what happens after the response. Skinner called this operant behaviour in operant conditioning, schedules of reinforcement are an important component of the learning process. When and how often we reinforce a behaviour can have a dramatic impact on the strength and rate of the response.

A schedule of reinforcement is basically a rule stating which instances of a behaviour will be reinforced in some case, a behaviour might be reinforced every time it occurs. Sometimes, a behaviour might not be reinforced at all. Either positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement might be used, depending on the situation. In both cases, the goal of reinforcement is always to strengthen the behaviour and increase the likelihood that it will occur again in the future.

In real-world settings, behaviours are probably not going to be reinforced each and every time they occur. For situations where we are purposely trying to train and reinforce an action, such as in the classroom, in sports or in animal training, we might opt to follow a specific reinforcement schedule.

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