Week 10 First Impression: Learning

Operant conditioning is a type of learning where behavior is controlled by consequences or rewards. Skinner believes that free will is not a thing because of operant conditioning. I disagree with Skinner, no matter if you are effected by the power of operant conditioning, you still have free will. Free will is the ability to make your own decisions. As I read more and more about operant conditioning, it sounds very similar to the way I was raised by my parents. I am rewarded for doing good things and punished for doing bad. But if I didn’t have free will why did I sometimes make bad choices that resulted in me getting punished? If we did not have free will, why do people make bad choices all the time? Frequently, people get into trouble with the law knowing there is a possibility of them suffering the consequences. If Skinner was right, then there would never be any crime in the world. Everyone would always make the right decision. Life is full of operant conditioning, if we do something right such as work hard at our job we might get a promotion. If we are slacking off at work, we might get fired. If we study hard we’ll ace the exam, if we don’t we might fail. We receive consequences and rewards for our actions on a daily basis. Whether or not it was a good choice, we still have the ability to make our own decisions no matter what the outcome may be.

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One thought on “Week 10 First Impression: Learning

  1. It seems obvious to most that we have free will, or at least that is the assumed ideal for most, but some would argue that we have the illusion of free will since we do make bad choices, as you have argued. The reward we gain by making bad choices (such as sleep for skipping classes or free-time for not studying for an exam) is greater than the punishment we might recieve, thus causing us to automatically pick the more appealing option. We operate under automatic and controlled thinking, the lack of free will being our automatic thinking always taking over. While I don’t personally agree with this opinion, as I’m sure you don’t either, it is reasoning that psychologists discuss.

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