How does Skinner's explanation of emotions compare to developmentalists' explanation of emotions?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Skinner believed that emotions could be conditioned. That is, we can learn how to feel the appropriate (or suggested) emotions to external stimulus. For example, f we were happy at the death of a loved one, we would receive negative social feedback and this would "teach" us that the appropriate emotion is sadness. The nature of our emotions, according to Skinner, is learned, rather than innate.

Developmental psychologists view emotion as an innate outgrowth of early childhood experiences. Emotions, for the developmentalist, arise not from learning, but from observing and imitating early relational patterns learned in childhood. For example, a young person who witnesses domestic abuse in the household may grow up to feel a sense of security and fulfillment by participating in such a relationship.

One view emotions as acquired through a continuous learning process, the other views emotions as seated within early childhood experiences.

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial