Psychologie: Behaviourismus

Vielen, die mit der Arbeit von Burhuss F. Skinner konfrontiert sind, ist nicht bewusst, dass Skinner seine Arbeit am Behaviourismus nicht nur auf spezifische Formen der Konditionierung gerichtet hat, sondern den Behaviorismus als evolutionäres Konzept ansieht, das sich einer Lernform bedient, die mMenschen per Evolution immanent ist:

quoteThe fact that operant conditioning, like all psychological processes, is a product of natural selection throws light on the question of what kinds of consequences are reinforcing and why. It is commonly said that a thing is reinforced because it feels, looks, sounds, smells, or tastes good, but from the point of view of evolutionary theory, a susceptibility to reinforcement is due to its survival value and not to any associated feelings.

The point may be made for the reinforcers which play a part in the conditioning of reflexes. Salivation is elicited by certain chemical stimuli on the tongue (as other secretions are elicited by other stimuli in later stages of digestion) because the effect has contributed to the survival of the species. A person may report that a substance tastes good, but it does not elicit salivation because it tastes good. Similarly, we pull our hand away from a hot object, but not because the object feels painful. The behavior occurs because appropriate mechanisms have been selected in the course of evolution. The feelings are merely collateral products of the conditions responsible for the behavior.

The same may be said for operant reinforcers. Salt and sugar are critical requirements, and individuals who were especially likely to be reinforced by them have more effectively learned and remembered where and how to get them and have therefore been more likely to survive and transmit the susceptibility to the species. It has often been pointed out that competition for a mate tends to select the more skillful an powerful members of a species, but it also selects those more susceptible to sexual reinforcement. As a result, the human species, like other species, is powerfully reinforced by sugar, salt, and sexual contact. This is very different from saying that these things reinforce because they taste or feel good” (Skinner, About Behaviorism, pp.52-53).

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