The Flight of the Killer Pigeons

  • B. F. Skinner


Around the turn of the twentieth century, American psychologist Edward Lee Thorndike investigated how animals learn. In one series of observations he placed a cat in a ‘puzzle box’ and measured the time it took to escape. Over a number of trials the time taken to escape decreased, yet the animal showed no sign of insight into the problem. It got out but it did not understand how it did it. From his observations he developed the Law of Effect, which states that the consequence of a successful behaviour is that it is more likely to recur in similar circumstances. This provided a description of animal behaviour that did not require notions such as consciousness or thought.


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Copyright information

© Philip Banyard and Andrew Grayson 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. F. Skinner

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