It’s the birthday of psychologist B(urrhus) F(rederic) Skinner (books by this author), born in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania (1904). He was the leading exponent of the school of psychology known as behaviorism, which explains the behavior of humans and animals in terms of their psychological responses to external stimuli. He coined the term operant conditioning to describe the phenomenon of learning as a result of an organism responding to its environment. He did extensive research with animals, notably rats and pigeons, and invented the famous Skinner box, in which a rat learns to press a lever in order to obtain food.
Skinner, who said, “A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.”