One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An apparatus for studying instrumental conditioning in animals (typically rats or pigeons) in which the animal is isolated and provided with a lever or switch which it learns to use to obtain a reward, such as a food pellet, or to avoid a punishment, such as an electric shock.
- ‘The students have a joke about the rats in the Skinner box.’
- ‘The studies described as operant were conducted in Skinner boxes using positive reinforcement and a free operant procedure.’
- ‘The ‘projects’ turned out to be a dreadful welfare-state variant of the Skinner box.’
- ‘An animal behaviorist I knew used to demonstrate this in laboratory rats that were previously shaped to the Skinner box procedures.’
- ‘The novel becomes a sort of Skinner box, the characters within prodded and cajoled by jolts of the otherworldly.’
1940s: named after B. F. Skinner (see Skinner, B. F).
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