Skinner’s Reinforcement Theory

Skinner’s Reinforcement Theory

Skinner’s Reinforcement Theory.

B.F. Skinner’s reinforcement theory is one of the oldest motivation theories that explain behavior. Also known as operant conditioning or behaviorism, it states that the behavior of individuals is as a result of its consequences. Skinner’s work is based on the law of effect developed by Edward Thorndike, who developed it after learning the behavior of animals using the puzzle box.

The law effect suggests that animals try different behaviors and adopt those that bring positive effect and minimize on those that bring negative consequences.

One of the central concepts that skinner used is reinforcement, which means that one event has the ability to lead to occurrence of another effect. According to the theory, much of human behavior is structured by applying reinforcement consequences such as payoffs and punishments (Skinner, 1969).

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as a result of reinforcement, as others learn through observation. Others interpret the world around them by using their brains, and others behave in certain ways because they are aware of the benefits or for their own pleasure.

Personality goes beyond what is learned through reinforcement. There are many aspects of personality that needs to be explained in the skinners theory.

However, even though it does not explain some oblivious questions on personality development, it is still valid to date. It is used in various institutions as a motivator towards achieving set goals and objectives. Although it is fails to explain some aspects, it is still relevant.


Blackman, D. E. (1974). Operant conditioning: An experimental analysis of behaviour. London: Methuen.

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