Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Skinner Box, the

  • Ioulia PapageorgiEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1051-1



A laboratory apparatus developed by B. F. Skinner in operant conditioning experiments to study animal behavior, which typically contains a lever that delivers reinforcement in the form of food or water upon being pressed.


The Skinner box (also known as operant conditioning chamber) was invented by Skinner while developing his theory of operant conditioning as a graduate student at Harvard University in the 1930s. It is used in the experimental study of animal behavior and allows the experimenter to manipulate, observe, and record an animal’s behavior in response to environmental stimuli. Reinforcement delivery in the form of food or water is contingent upon a lever being pressed by the animal (usually a rat or pigeon). Responses are recorded on a cumulative recorder. The Skinner box and the cumulative recorder are two of Skinner’s most important inventions in the experimental study of behavior and played a...


Skinner Box Operant Conditioning Chamber Cumulative Record Open Source Device Laboratory-maintained Animals 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus

Section editors and affiliations

  • Menelaos Apostolou
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus