This is why I love psychology.


B. F. Skinner is one of my favourite psychologist (yes I have favourite psychologist) and this to me was just the most bizarre, sinister and yet brilliant idea. 

B. F. Skinner discovered the theory known as ‘operant conditioning' which to over simplify is the notion we can dictate and teach or remove behaviours in people and animals through positive and negative stimulus, or the removal of positive and negative stimulus. After applying it to just about everything you can imagine, B. F. Skinner during WWII began working on Project Pigeon. The plan was to put pigeons inside specially designed pelican missiles with a lens on the front of the missile that projected images onto an inner screen. The pigeons were then trained using operant conditioning to peck at German battleships. While inside the missile this pecking would re-orientate the missile and guide it towards the ships. Although the first pigeons were trained successfully, the project was dumped and electronic guided systems were later used. To me this is like mixing the Flintstones with war and I can’t help but wonder how different war may be if Skinner was the chief weapons designer in WWII. 

I’m watching “The Brain: a secret history” on BBC4, its talking about Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) and classical conditioning, I definitely did not know he had furthered his famous experiments on dogs by conducting them on children. They conditioned children to open their mouths and chew (conditioned response) every time the their wrists were squeezed (conditioned stimulus) by continually feeding them cookies (unconditioned stimulus) out of a tube. By pairing the neutral stimulus of the child’s wrist being lightly squeezed with the real stimuli of cookies, the child was conditioned to open their mouths/chew every time their wrists were squeezed, despite no cookies being dispensed by the, horribly degrading, tube. It seems that Pavlov also directly mirrored his classic experiments on salivation in dogs on Children, including surgically implanting a collecting duct in their salivary glands to measure the amount of saliva in response to the conditioned stimulus, what ever that may have been. FUCKED. Naughty man 

On a better note, B F Skinner’s (the dude that did operant conditioning) daughter has conditioned her rad cat how to play piano \m/

I’m sorry for my shit explanation, its too late for brain function, and its tumblr, not sk00l. Ya know? 

b.f. skinner & operant conditioning

B.F. Skinner - 

  • behaviourist who stressed that psychologists should focus on behaviour that could be objectively measured and verified
  • formulated the principles of operant conditioning

operant conditioning: learning process in which behaviour is shaped/maintained by consequences (rewards or punishments) that follow a response. 

  • contrasts with classical conditioning - behaviour controlled by stimuli preceding a response