On October 21, 1965, renowned behavioral psychologist Burrhus Frederic (B.F.) Skinner spoke at Amherst College about planning experimental communities. In his lecture, Skinner explains the meaning of utopias, dystopias, and critical thinking. This was originally broadcast on WFCR’s “Four College Lecture Hall.”
Today Skinner is considered one of the most influential behavioral scientists. He developed the foundations of the discipline of radical behaviorism, working with both negative and positive reinforcements. Punishment, he found, weakens behavior, whereas reinforcement strengthens behavior.
Skinner was born on March 20, 1904, in the small town of Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Hamilton College in 1926 with a B.A. in English. When he was 24 he went to graduate school at Harvard University, eventually studying psychology. In 1936 he married Yvonne Blue and had two children after moving to Minnesota, where Skinner first started teaching.
Nine years later the family moved to Bloomington, Indiana, where Skinner served as chair of the psychology department at Indiana University. After just two years, Skinner relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and began teaching at Harvard in 1948. Skinner died on August 18, 1990.