Opening Skinner’s Box

Lauren Slater’s Opening Skinner’s Box is a superb book about “great psychological experiments of the 20th century”, as the blurb says. The book deals with 10 psychological experiments and is written in an easy-to-read, conversational form.

Slater writes about psychology from her perspective, as someone who has suffered depression, as a psychologist, as a wife, and a mother. The writing’s not heavy on the psychologist mumbo-jumbo and it has some elements of humour, so the book’s interesting to read.

It’s informative as well–Slater starts off with B. F. Skinner’s famous rat experiments and proceeds to a varied set of experiments, from Stanley Milgram’s experiment to lobotomy–stuff that she regards as influential and interesting. What makes this book different is that in addition to a scientific view, Skinner Slater also offers her personal thoughts, which give you a different perspective on the experiments.

You may have read or heard about the experiments, but this book is still worth a read because it’ll make you think about the assumptions that we make about human behaviour and mental health, among other things.

I enjoyed the writing style and the story-like narrative of the essays and it makes me want to read more of Slater’s work.

PS: Updated a day later because a smart reader pointed out a mistake.


2 thoughts on “Opening Skinner’s Box

  1. Sounds like a good book. Would’ve made studying those darn things much more interesting when I was in school :)

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