Known as radical behaviorism, Skinner’s theory of human development concentrates on creating the cause-and-effect relationships between the environmental factors, individual behavior, and development.
Initially, Skinner’s observations were focused on animal behaviors. According to the researcher’s findings, minor changes in environment or stimuli called antecedents can result in significant shifts in animals’ behaviors. These observations led Skinner to a conclusion that behaviors are determined mainly by environmental factors as opposed to the medications approach claiming that development is driven by inner forces which are stored inside of the body (Barkway 2009). The application of these findings to human development is rather complicated because it might be not that easy to identify the changes in the environment leading to certain shifts in an individual’s behavior. Though it is doubtless that various external stimuli may have an impact upon an individual’s behavior, the question is whether the determinants of a person’s behaviors and development can be limited to the changes in the environment.
Discussing early language learning, Skinner points out the importance of teaching strategies as the most influential factors in the process of language acquisition (MacLaughin 2010; Greer 2008). As to health care practice, a clear understanding of this theory can help define the causes of patients’ diseases and establish the cause-and-effect relations between the antecedents and health problems as well as select effective intervention strategies by considering these relations.
Skinner’s radical behaviorism focuses on the links between environmental changes and a person’s condition and can be valuable for diagnosing and treating different diseases.
Barkway, P 2009 Psychology for health professionals, Elsevier, Australia.
Greer, D, 2008, ‘The ontogenetic selection of verbal capabilities: Contributions of Skinner’s verbal behavior theory to a more comprehensive understanding of anguage’, International Journal of Psychology & Psychological Therapy, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 363 – 386.
MacLaughin, S, 2010, ‘Verbal behavior by B. F. Skinner: Contributions to analyzing early language learning’, Journal of Speech-Language Pathology & Applied Behavior Analysis, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 114 – 131.