Skinner & Piaget Essay

Burrhus Frederic Skinner was a behavioral theorist who impacted greatly on the developmental field. He is not considered a developmental psychologist, but many of his theories are still embraced by developmental theorists today (Diessner 2008). One of his more important contributions to the field was his theory of verbal behavior. Skinner defines verbal behavior as “behavior reinforced through the mediation of other people.” (Skinner 1957). Language is developed through process of thought and through social interactions within the environment. Children and intellectually disabled individuals learn language through listening to other individuals in the environment and develop and assign a meaning or definition to a word or object which is stored in memory. Others in the environment can reinforce that verbal behavior by further defining and reinforcing what that child or intellectually disabled individual has already constructed a meaning for and stored.

Skinner believed that all behavior, including verbal behavior was influenced by positive and negative reinforcement. Through these types of reinforcement, you can mold and shape a person’s behavior and elicit a desired response. Positive reinforcement is used in operant conditioning as a stimulus after a response that would provide an increased probability that the response would reoccur in the future (Skinner 1957). Negative reinforcement is the removal of an unpleasant stimulus when a desired behavior occurs (Skinner 1957).

In what I do for my agency as a behavior clinician, I utilize positive reinforcement on a regular basis with my consumers. We are always trying to reshape their behaviors, by initiating verbal praise and the giving of tangible rewards when they engage in the desired behavior. For many of our consumers this type of reinforcement is successful as it makes them feel good that something they did had a positive outcome and they had one to one attention provided to them by staff.

We can also affect verbal behavior with the same type of reinforcement. If a consumer makes an appropriate verbalization or response, they receive a reward. If they make an inappropriate verbalization they are not rewarded it gives them the impetus to go for the desired response or outcome. Many of our consumers learn concepts this way and it is shown to be very effective.

Skinner, B.F. (1957). Verbal Behavior. New York: Appleton
Diessner, R. (2008). Classic edition sources human development. Dubuque, IA. mcgraw hill contemporary learning series.

J. Piaget
Steven A. Vance
Post University

J. Piaget

Jean Piaget was a cognitive behavior theorist who believed that the social experiences that one receives from the environment is significant in that individual’s development as a human being. These would include positive and negative experiences. Piaget believed that a child can teach themselves independently and learn due to their willingness to learn (Moledina 2013).

Children engaging in gameplay and learning the rules that coincide with that game were discussed by Piaget. Piaget discussed four stages that would apply to this, they are: A more individualized stage where the child plays by himself. The second being the egocentric stage, where he might play with others but is still on his own. Cooperation is next, there is unified rules here and then codification of rules, where they are more developed and accepted by the group (Diessner 2008).

Video game playing can be a very solitary event, where the player engages himself in the game, but learn the rules of the games as playing takes place. The player becomes more proficient at the game once rules are accepted and internalized. My younger son engages in both individual play and group play with his peers while on X- box. In either case, rules have to be learned to play the game with positive results. It becomes more involved when there is group play because the rules might be less codified with some of the participants and are up for interpretation. There will always be participants who will know the rules better than others and the others in the group might

look to that person for guidance in the game. On the other hand, there might be a participant that does not know the rules at all and will try to convince the others to makes changes. Their making exceptions would depend on how internalized the rules would be for them and how resolute they would be. So, all of the stages Piaget discussed are in evidence here, where my son’s video game playing is concerned. So through gameplay and learning the rules, morality, or a sense of right and wrong is instilled in the individual and carries over to a grander scale to be utilized in every day life, not just in gameplay.

References Diessner, R. (2008). Classic edition sources human development. Dubuque, IA. mcgraw hill contemporary learning series. Moledina, M. (2013). Skinner versus Piaget: Summarize the differences between. Blog archive.…