B. F. Skinner (the behaviorist) contends that all human behavior is controlled by rewards and/or punishments.  Therefore, he claims everything we do is to earn a reward or avoid a punishment. ...

B. F. Skinner (the behaviorist) contends that all human behavior is controlled by rewards and/or punishments.  Therefore, he claims everything we do is to earn a reward or avoid a punishment.  This means humans have no "free will" or "choices."  Further, Skinner contends that we are simply and always controlled by the rewards/punishments in our environment.

Excluding biological processes (breathing, sleeping, etc. ) name three behaviors you have ever "chosen" that were done without reward or punishment.  Justify your response for each selected behavior.

Expert Answers
jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Skinner believed that behaviors are reinforced by rewards, including positive and negative reinforcement. However, some behaviors aren't reinforced by positive reinforcement or the removal of negative reinforcements. There are some self-sacrificing or altruistic behaviors, for example, in which the person does not expect a reward and might even experience punishment. An example is sharing your food with a hungry person who you will never see again. You don't expect a reward or recognition for that behavior, but you do it anyway. You don't experience any external rewards, and you might even suffer as a result of going hungry. Another example is providing help to a hurt animal along the side of the road. In this example, you might arrive late to your destination or even brave the elements to help the animal, which causes you to suffer. A final example is giving money to a charity (without wanting the recognition that results). You might have less money to spend on yourself as a result, which is punishing, but you do it anyway. In each case, there might be no recognition or reward; instead, you are motivated by a sense of altruism rather than a desire to be rewarded or to avoid punishment. 

Unlock This Answer Now