Definition of Skinner box in English:

Skinner box

Syllabification: Skin·ner box
Pronunciation: /ˈskinər ˌbäks


  • 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.
    More example sentences
    • The studies described as operant were conducted in Skinner boxes using positive reinforcement and a free operant procedure.
    • 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.


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

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