B.F. Skinner was a psychologist and behaviorist. He believed that any human action is the result of the consequences of the same action. If something good happens with the action, then it will probably be repeated. If the consequence is bad, then the action probably won't be repeated. Skinner called this reinforcement. He used this principle to strengthen a behavior called operant conditioning. He created the Skinner Box as a tool to study operant conditioning. The box had a lever and a food tray, and a rat could get food delivered to the tray by pressing the lever. Skinner observed that when a rat was put in the box, it would walk around and usually pressed the bar by accident, at which point a food pellet would drop into the tray. After that happened, the rate of bar pressing would increase dramatically and remain high until the rat was no longer hungry. Most of Skinner's work occurred during the Great Depression. This was a time of poverty and struggle. There were very little employment opportunities and the economy was a mess.
Skinner was very important to the world of psychology. He showed that some behaviors are due to previous experiences. He was important for the school of thought because he needed proof and actual data to show this was correct. He was in the depression and it probably encouraged him to keep working hard and to show people that he is right. Mental health professionals often use operant techniques when working with clients, teachers frequently use reinforcement and punishment to shape behavior in the classroom, and animal trainers rely on these techniques to train dogs and other animals. Skinner's legacy left a lasting mark on psychology.