three characteristics of science described by Skinner

3. There seem to be three characteristics of science described by Skinner (intellectual honesty, skepticism, and search for order). Describe or define each, and give an example in your own words, and explain why each is important to science.

three characteristics of science described by Skinner


In the introduction to his book About Behaviorism, B. F. Skinner describes three characteristics of science:

High predictability of output – The results of behavior experiments can be predicted with high accuracy. If an experimenter predicts that a rat will press a lever when it is hungry, he can make sure that she has food available at the right time. He also knows precisely how much food she needs to consume in order to achieve the desired outcome (i.e., pressing the lever). This high degree of control over events allows scientists to observe and measure variables such as hunger and satiety in animals like rats or pigeons in controlled environments where everything else remains constant except for whether or not they receive their daily meal (food pellets being dispensed through a tube). The use of stimuli and rewards to control behavior – All attempts to change behavior must be preceded by a systematic search for relevant environmental events that can trigger the desired response. For example, if we want our dog “Fido” to go potty on command but he usually happens upon something tasty first thing out of his crate when we let him out each morning before breakfast—then what? How do we get him focused on going outside? By using rewards…and avoiding punishment whenever possible! That’s right: positive reinforcement (i.e., praise) works best at getting our pets interested in doing something new when training new behaviors…

High predictability of output

  • Predictability of output: The ability to predict the outcome of an experiment or behavior.
  • Predictability of stimulus: The ability to predict what will happen when you present a particular stimulus to someone.

The use of stimuli and rewards to control behavior

  • Rewards
  • Punishment

Skinner’s theory of behaviorism states that rewards and punishments are used to change behavior. A reward is something that someone receives after doing something they want to do, like getting a dollar for helping your friend move house or getting a toy for doing well in school. Punishments are negative consequences that occur when someone does something wrong, such as being grounded from playing with friends for one day. There will always be differences between rewards and punishments based on the person receiving them; some people enjoy receiving money while others don’t care about it at all (unless they’re poor). The use of stimuli and rewards can be seen in many aspects of daily life including education systems where teachers give students exams instead of homework assignments because this method works better than handing out homework every night after dinner time because kids get bored easily when given too much work all at once which leads us back our original question: why do we make such drastic changes?

All attempts to control or change behavior must be preceded by a systematic search for relevant environmental events that can trigger the desired response.

The environment is the key to behavior. It can be changed to change behavior, and it can be manipulated in order to achieve a desired result. This means that if you want your child to behave better at school, you’re going to have to modify their environment. If you want them not so much distracted by television or video games but instead engaged in reading or writing more often, then maybe we should turn off the television when they come home from school so that they don’t feel like their time spent with us was wasted because of distractions like those two things (and maybe even take away those video games).

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Skinnerian thinking about human beings over my life as an educator–and it’s something I’ve passed on over several decades now–it’s this: We need our children (and ourselves) if we want them (or ourselves) not only safely but joyfully living out lives full of meaning and purpose!

Skinner describes the three characteristics of science

Skinner describes the three characteristics of science: predictability, stimulus-reward relationships and control.

Predictability refers to the ability to make predictions about the outcome of an experiment based on previous knowledge about the structure and function of that system. For example, if you know that your pet dog will bark if you give him a treat, then creating a situation where he is given both treats and not being punished for barking will result in a predictable behavior pattern.

In addition to predictability, Skinner also talks about stimulus-reward relationships: these are situations where there is an association between two events (e.g., giving food makes us hungry). If we see our friend laughing with another person after eating lunch together at work today then it might make us want more food because we associate laughter with good feelings; this means that our desire for more food may outweigh any potential consequences associated with gaining weight too quickly!


This is a very brief overview of the three characteristics of science, but it should give you a pretty good idea of what they are and how they affect our behavior every day. As we have seen, Skinner’s work has been influential in areas from psychology to philosophy and even economics, so it’s only fitting that this post ends with an example from each field!

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