Definition of Skinner box in English:

Skinner box


  • 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 that it learns to use to obtain a reward, such as a food pellet, or to avoid a punishment, such as an electric shock.

    • ‘An animal behaviorist I knew used to demonstrate this in laboratory rats that were previously shaped to the Skinner box procedures.’
    • ‘The students have a joke about the rats in the Skinner box.’
    • ‘The novel becomes a sort of Skinner box, the characters within prodded and cajoled by jolts of the otherworldly.’
    • ‘The ‘projects’ turned out to be a dreadful welfare-state variant of the Skinner box.’
    • ‘The studies described as operant were conducted in Skinner boxes using positive reinforcement and a free operant procedure.’


1940s: named after B. F. Skinner(see Skinner, B. F.).


Skinner box

/ˈskinər ˌbäks/