B. F. Skinner’s research and contributions have played an essential role in the advancement of psychology. Skinner’s belief that behavior could be modified by environment and the modified behavior was controlled by the effects of this change was soon termed operant behavior. Skinner’s theory makes sense when one considers an early Skinner experiment which involved rats pressing a bar. Skinner’s research suggested that the rat pressing the bar was not dependant on any prior stimulus, but in fact because of the response created by its pressing the bar (Morris & Maisto, 2002).
      Skinner’s research taught us that through use of reinforcement, either positive or negative, behavior can be altered and a newly desired behavior easily adapted. Furthermore, Skinner’s teaching of punishment as a means of behavioral alteration is seemingly a common sense issue. Differing from negative reinforcement, Skinner shows punishment to be an event, or consequence that decreases likelihood of repetitive undesired behavior. An instrumental aid for child rearing, Skinner taught that punishment only has benefit when properly imposed; therefore, it need be swift and sufficient. Although punishment has its benefits, Skinner also maintained great care in explaining the possible drawbacks and that punishment that is not appropriately given, or is cruel in nature, will be ineffective (Morris & Maisto, 2002).

      Skinner further contributed to the advancement of understanding behavior with his insight into superstitious behavior. Skinner explained that humans learn superstitious behavior when a specific result follows a reinforcer which is not directly related to this result (Morris & Maisto, 2002).

      To question Skinner’s experimental findings, theory, and contributions would be absurd. Through wisdom and ingenuity Skinner gave immeasurable understanding of how behavior modification can be easily obtained.


Morris, C. G., & Maisto, A. A. (2002). Psychology: An...