Positive Reinforcement – Skinner Essay Sample

9 September 2017

The best manner to understand the full importance of the applications of B. F. Skinner’s ( 1953. 1971 ) thought and his research consequences is to read his novel. Walden Two ( 1948 ) . The book is about a Utopian community designed and maintained harmonizing to Skinnerian rules of operant behavior and agendas of support. A similar application was made in an industrial state of affairs in the Emery Air Freight instance ( “At Emery. ” 1973 ) . By using Skinnerian rules. which are based on legion research findings. Emery rapidly realised an one-year nest eggs of $ 65O. OOO.

Skinner is neither an OD practician nor a direction adviser. but his theory and research are so applicable to direction patterns and to organizational alteration. For Skinner. control is cardinal. If one can command the environment. one can so command behavior. In Skinner’s attack. the more the environment is controlled the better but the necessary component of control. is the wages. both positive and negative. This necessity is based on a fundamental of behavior that Skinner derived from his many old ages of research. a construct so basic that it may be a jurisprudence of behavior: that people ( and animate beings ) do what they are rewarded for making. Let us see the rules that underlie this fundamental of behavior. The first stage of erudite behavior is called determining. the procedure of consecutive estimates to the desired behavior. When kids are le_arnin2 to walk. they are reinforced by their parents’ promoting remarks or physical stroke but this support typically follows merely the behaviors that lead to effectual walking. Programmed acquisition. invented by Skinner. is based on this rule. To keep the behavior. a agenda of support is applied and. by and large. the more variable the agenda is. the longer the behavior will last.

Skinner hence advocates positive support for determining and commanding behavior. Often. nevertheless. when we consider commanding behavior. we think of penalty ( “If you don’t make this. you’re gon na acquire it: ” ) . Harmonizing to Skinner. penalty is no good. His stance is non based wholly on his values or caprices. nevertheless. Research clearly shows that. although penalty may temporarily halt a certain behavior. negative support must be administered continuously for this certain procedure to be maintained. The rule is the antonym of that for positively reinforced behavior. There are two really practical concerns here. First. holding to reenforce a certain behavior continuously is non really efficient.

Second. although the punished behavior may be curtailed. it is improbable that the topic will larn what to make ; all that is learned is what non to make. Thus. the manner to command behaviour harmonizing to Skinnerian theory and research is to reenforce the desirable behavior positively and. after the defining procedure. to reenforce the behavior merely on occasion. An attempt~ should be made to disregard unwanted behaviors and non to penalize ( unless. possibly. society must be protected ) but. instead. to pass clip positively determining the coveted behavior. The deductions of Skinner’s work for administrations is that a premium is placed on such activities as establish- ing incentive systems. cut downing oreliminating many of the control systems that contain built-in menaces and penalties. supplying feedback to all degrees of employees sing their public presentation. and developing programmed-learning techniques for developing employees.

The application of Skinner’s work to OD did non happen consistently until the seventiess. Therefore. his influence is non every bit permeant as is Maslow’s. for illustration. Skinner’s behaviour -motivation techniques as applied to people besides raise important inquiries sing moralss and values: Who exercise the control and is the receiver cognizant? Therefore. it is non a inquiry of whether Skinner’s methodological analysis plants but instead how and under what fortunes it is used.


From BURKE. W. W ( 1987 ) : Administration Development. Reading. Massachusetts. Addison-Wesley. pp. 35-37 Mention:
“At Emery Air Freight: Positive Reinforcement Boosts Performance” . Organisational Dynamics. 1 ( 3 ) 41-67 Skinner B. F ( 1948 ) : Walden Two. N. Y. : Macmillan
Skinner B. F ( 1953 ) : Science & A ; Human Behaviour. N. Y. : Macmillan Skinner B. F ( 1971 ) : Beyond Freedom and Dignity. N. Y. : Knopf.

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