How can you use B.F. Skinner's Learning Theory in a career and to assist in doing work more effectively?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Behaviorism is a study that analyzes how reinforcers create, destroy, or sustain a specific action (behavior).

The average career is multidimensional and requires a number of different tasks to be accomplished for success. Using the Skinner approach basically means applying an intervention that will encourage better performance skills.

Whenever a specific performance is expected, a rewards system is likely to encourage such performance because it works as positive reinforcement. This constitutes the principle behind operant conditioning: an input/reaction system where a motivator is used to induce a particular behavior.

An example would be encouraging professional development. When employees are asked to maintain their credentials updated, there must be some kind of incentive behind it that will ensure that such decision will eventually pay off in the form of a salary increase, additional vacation time, or even the assurance of employment safety.

Competing for incentives maintains the employees motivated to outperform one another, and, in cases where incentives are amply available to whoever competes, it maintains the energy level of the company quite high. Anybody at any age level operates best while positively motivated. It is a proven fact, because employees work toward progressing in their companies and getting fired or pink-slipped is not a consistent thought that they use. What this means is that the potentially positive gain of a reinforcer influences performance far more than the potential of getting fired (negative reinforcer). Hence, an employer can make great use of a system of incentives rather than elicit good performance through fear or warnings.

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