MadSci Network: Neuroscience

Re: What is the difference between the Skinner box and the Puzzle box?

Date: Tue Dec 12 11:57:28 2000
Posted By: Cynthia L. Park, Grad student, Cognitive Psychology, Florida Atlantic Universty
Area of science: Neuroscience
ID: 974315859.Ns

Dear Kyle,

The Skinner box produces more accurate and useful results compared to Thorndike's puzzle box. This is because the Skinner Box is an experimental environment that is better suited to examine the more natural flow of behavior. In other words, the Skinner box lets you measure a number of successful responses on the part of the animal because the animal stays in the box and can push the lever (or other mechanism) many times to receive multiple rewards. As you can see in the attached picture of the Thorndike box, an animal must escape from the box in order to earn its' reward. Once it is outside the box the experiment is over.

Thorndike Box The Thorndike box was invented by E. L. Thorndike in the 1830s. The Skinner box came later and was considered an improvement in the device. Thus, it is the Skinner box that is the apparatus that has become the prototypical device for the controlled laboratory study of operant behavior.

Thank you for your question.

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