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Experimental analysis of behavior

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The experimental analysis of behavior is the name given to the approach to psychology founded by B. F. Skinner. As its name suggests, its foundational principle was the rejection of theoretical analysis, in particular the kinds of learning theory that had grown up in the comparative psychology of the 1920-1950 period, in favor of a more direct approach. It owed its early success to the effectiveness of Skinner's procedure of operant conditioning, both in the laboratory and in behavior therapy.

Although the experimental analysis of behavior was founded on the ideas of Skinner's radical behaviorism, it can be seen as a set of procedures and topics, and nowadays these are followed by many psychologists who do not align themselves with Skinner's philosophy of psychology.

Skinner's own use of the intervening variable of response strength to explain the effects of reinforcement has led many to question the popular notion that the experimental analysis of behaviour is atheoretical. The idea that Skinner's position is atheoretical is probably inspired by the arguments he put forth in his article Are Theories of Learning Necessary? However, Skinner does not argue against the use of theory as such, only against certain theories in certain contexts.

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