Behavior Modification Essay

1094 Words 5 Pages
Behavior Modification

In the book A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess the main character, Alex, is exposed to an experimental technique known as "Ludovico's Technique" which causes him to feel pain whenever he is exposed to sex, violence, or certain types of music. This Ludovico's Technique is a form of behavior modification, most likely inspired by B.F. Skinner.
Burrhus Frederic Skinner was a widely known, and criticized, psychologist/behaviorist who founded the operant science of behaviorism around 1938. He is most famous for "Skinner's box", where a rat would be placed in a box and conditioned to press a lever in order to receive food. What Skinner is most widely criticized for is his disbelief in the higher mental activities,
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Skinner, pg. 129).
Although this enclosed environment was never meant to condition his child, it has been used by his critics to dehumanize him. Walden Two was a work of fiction, which exposed many of Skinner' s beliefs about society. The main character, Frazier, set up a community in which he used operant conditioning, the positive reinforcement side of it, to create an almost utopian community (B.F. Skinner, pg. 148). Skinner's most criticized book, Beyond Freedom and Dignity, suggested that "the survival of the human species and hence the future of humankind could be best engineered by a science of behavior that decried the concept of individual freedom as the solution to the great problems of the day" (B.F. Skinner, pg. 193). Skinner concluded this controversial book with the line "We have not yet seen what man can make of man" (B.F. Skinner, pg. 195). Such experiments must have influenced Burgess when he was writing about Alex.
The two types of behavior conditioning are respondent, or classical, conditioning, which was used on Alex, and operant conditioning, which was founded by Skinner. Respondent behavior of an organism is the uncontrolled responses to the environment, or stimuli. Some examples include pulling your hand away from a hot stove or leg flexion caused by a thorn in a dog's leg (A primer of. . . pg. 7). The operant behavior is everything else, which

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