Skinner, B(urrhus) F(rederic) (1904-1990),
American psychologist, born in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, and educated at Harvard
University, where he received (1931) a Ph.D. degree. He joined the Harvard faculty
in 1948. Skinner became the foremost exponent in the U.S.
of the behaviorist school of psychology, in which human behavior is explained in terms of physiological responses to external
stimuli. He also originated programmed instruction, a teaching technique in which the student is presented a series of ordered,
discrete bits of information, each of which he or she must understand before proceeding to the next stage in the series. A
variety of teaching machines have been designed that incorporate the ideas of Skinner. Among his important works are Behavior
of Organisms (1938), Walden Two (1948), and The Technology of Teaching (1968). In Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971), Skinner
advocated mass conditioning as a means of social control. Later works include Particulars of My Life (1976) and Reflections
on Behaviorism and Society (1978).
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