Wednesday, March 20, 2013

B.F. Skinner: The Man Who Taught Pigeons to Play Ping-Pong and Rats to Pull Levers

From Besides Freud, Skinner is arguably the most famous psychologist of the 20th century. Today, his work is basic study in introductory psychology classes across the country. But what drives a man to teach his children’s cats to play piano and instruct his beagle on how to play hide and seek? Last year, Norwegian researchers dove into his past to figure it out. The team combed through biographies, archival material and interviews with those who knew him, then tested Skinner on a common personality scale. They found Skinner, who would be 109 years old today, was highly conscientious, extroverted and somewhat neurotic—a trait shared by as many as 45 percent of leading scientists. The analysis revealed him to be a tireless worker, one who introduced a new approach to behavioral science by building on the theories of Ivan Pavlov and John Watson. more

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