New Developments in Operant Conditioning and Their Implications
From the very beginning, the area of psychology known as the experimental analysis of behavior, or operant conditioning, has looked beyond itself for extension and application of its basic principles to complex situations. B. F. Skinner, the person most responsible for the development of operant-conditioning research, was at work on an account of language at the same time that his seminal Behavior of Organisms (1938) was published. The account of language was twenty years in the making (Skinner, 1957), but the important point is that it began at the same time that the laboratory discipline was beginning; it began when there were almost no basic principles to apply. This orientation toward extension of laboratory principles has characterized Skinner’s work ever since (e.g., Skinner, 1948, 1953, 1968, 1971).
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