Skinner's Box & Operant Conditioning

One of B.F. Skinner's famous theories was on the concept of operant conditioning. A Skinner box, which is also known an operant conditioning chamber, is an enclosed space (like a box) that contains a lever that an animal can press or manipulate in order to obtain food as a type of reinforcement. When the lever is pressed, food is dispensed which in turn satisfied its hunger (positive reinforcement). Other stimuli can also be presented including lights, sounds, and images. In some instances, the floor of the chamber may be electrified (negative reinforcement). In this instance, the rat was given a shock and in order to stop the shock from happening, it would have to press the lever. At the end of his experiment, the rats learned how to obtain food through operant conditioning. The Skinner box became an important tool for studying learned behavior and contributed a great deal to our understanding of the effects of reinforcement and punishment.

Here's how the experiment looks like:


  1. B.F. Skinner is one of the most famous figures of psychology of all time because of his contributions to the different aspects of learning. I really like how you pointed out that Skinner's box can exhibit both positive and negative reinforcement, depending on the researcher's objectives.


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