Famous Lambda Chi Alpha Alumni: B.F. Skinner

Some of us may know some of our more famous Brothers, President Harry Truman, Supreme Court Justice Harry BlackmunKenny Chesney. But many of our other Brothers who have made major advancements and achieved recognition in their chosen fields are less know to many Lambda Chi’s throughout the world.

B.F. SkinnerThose of you who study psychology and human behavior, as well as fans of the televison show Lost may be surprised to learn that Psychologist B.F. Skinner was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha as well.

According to Wikipedia, Skinner was an author, inventor, advocate for social reform and poet. He was the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University from 1958 until retirement in 1974. He invented the operant conditioning chamber, innovated his own philosophy of science called Radical Behaviorism, and founded his own school of experimental research psychology — the experimental analysis of behavior. His analysis of human behavior culminated in his work Verbal Behavior, which has recently seen enormous increase in interest experimentally and in applied settings. He discovered and advanced the rate of response as a dependent variable in psychological research. He invented the cumulative recorder to measure rate of responding as part of his highly influential work on schedules of reinforcement. In a recent survey, Skinner was listed as the most influential psychologist of the 20th century. He was a prolific author, publishing 21 books and 180 articles.

Lost logoFrequent viewers of the television show Lost will recognize Skinner’s name as an influence of the Dharma Initiative. In the goal of creating a place where scientists can work to create world peace, Skinner was an obvious reference for the show’s writers. Specifically, the Skinner Box, as a possible model for the way the television show’s characters interact and live on an island together.

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