A Different Perspective on Skinner

I found it interesting how this text book sheds a new light on B.F. Skinner. Up to this point I was always under the assumption that he was someone who had some interesting theories, but was eccentric and unethical. A key reason for this was the infamous Skinner Box. Powell, Symbaluk, & Honey (2009) explained that the real reason for the skinner box was to provide filtered air and regulated temperature to the crib. It was a great alternative to the unstable and jail cell like standard cribs (Powell 2009). This was obviously somehow lost in translation and the press assumed he was having his daughter conditioned through the Skinner Box. People assumed Skinner was coldly experimenting on his own daughter, and there were rumors she had a horrible childhood as the result of it. Other psychology classes even led me to believe that he performed unethical experiments on his own daughter. The video below shows Skinner in completely different light from what I pictured him to be. He points out the Skinner Box rumors are far from the truth, and he and his daughter had a great relationship. His daughter is even in the audience during this lecture. Knowing this I am far more interested to learn what Skinner's own theories were.


  1. I thought this post and video was really interesting. I always thought the Skinner box was really strange and I felt bad that his daughter was the test subject! But the video proves everyone wrong, by saying that he has a good relationship with his daughter and she isn't as traumatized as everyone thinks!

  2. I thought the last part of the video was interesting when he addressed the question about why it seems like just about any therapeutic approach has some success. Skinner says that any patient that falls into the hands of a therapist who is enthusiastic about a new treatment is a lucky patient. I did some research on antidepressants and placebo studies last semester and found evidence that this may be true. In a book by Irving Kirsch, called The Emperor's New Drugs, he found that there are significant benefits for patients in the placebo groups of antidepressant drug trials if the clinician simply takes the time to ask questions. There are many studies that examine how administration of a drug or therapy affects its effectiveness and it seems to be especially useful when dealing with depressed patients.


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