Ep 228 (video): Did B.F. Skinner Raise His Children in a Skinner Box?

You may have heard this rumor about B.F. Skinner raising his children in one of his (presumably oversized) “Skinner boxes”. Is there any truth to this? Related rumors: that Skinner’s daughter became mentally ill as a result of being raised in this box and that she sued her father when she became an adult. We finally find the answer to this long held belief in this fictional interview with B.F. himself (the audio is really Skinner talking).


…Ladies Home Journal ran a piece on the new crib in 1945…The title of the article, “Baby in a Box,” as well as Skinner’s use of the word “experiment” to describe the experience likely contributed to public skepticism about the device.. The image accompanying the article was similarly damaging; it showed Deborah enclosed within the crib, peering out with her face and hands pressed up against the glass. In addition, select parts of the article were reprinted in other major outlets. As a result, many readers did not get the entire story. Some began to make inferences about the nature of the crib based on the much more famous Skinner box. The air crib therefore became associated with rewards, pellets, levers, and the like. – Joyce and Faye

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Dementia: When “Living in the Moment” is Not A Good Thing

Tomorrow my mother turns 94 and her physical health is amazing. I have spoken about my mother and her husband Roy (who turns 99 next Spring) on this podcast several times including this episode where I interview him since he is in the final stage of Erikson’s Eight Stages of PsychoSocial Development. Like many people her age my mother suffers from dementia which means that while her long term memory is good, her short term memory is not good at all.
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220: PsycExplorer Roundup: More Evidence That Animals Think and Feel

In episode 217 I asked you to be frank with yourself: Does your animal really think? It’s easy to believe they do, but if you’re going to study this issue scientifically you have to eliminate our human tendency to anthropomorphize – to want to believe that animal actions are motivated by internal states.


Here’s a roundup of a few articles I found in my PsycExplorer app (PsycExplorerHD for iPad) which show exactly what psychologists are doing to find out what exactly is going on (if anything…) in the minds of dogs, cats, rats, chickens and yes fruit flies. Are they really thinking in there? Well, maybe so. These examples certainly convinced me, although it might all depend on what you mean by “thinking” and “feeling”. … Read more

Ep 214: Your Adolescence is Giving Me A Mid-Life Crisis!

We all know that adolescence is a time of change and often a tough time for the teen. But what about the parent? Today’s parents are often older than years ago, and today’s parents are sometimes going through their own self-examination, their own doubts, their own exploration. What happens when you bring those two together? Sometimes a lot of yelling frankly. In this episode I talk about the changes going on in the adolescent and in the older parent and how parents can avoid the yelling and the accusations that only undermine what the teen is going through and how parents can step back and examine themselves. A little understanding can go a long way.


How Adolescents Affect their Parents


Dopamine and Adolescence

Ep 211: Is a Little Deception Okay? Paid Crowds and Native Advertising

crowds for hireWe face more moral “dilemmas” in everyday life than maybe we don’t realize. How do we resolve them? In this episode I discuss two interesting moral dilemmas: a) should you employ for-hire crowds of actors to attend your event in order to make it look like you’re more popular than you really are? and b) should you place your advertisements on web and print pages in such a way that they don’t really look like ads at all? I discuss the moral questions involved in “native advertising“. You’ll find some unique examples of Kohlberg’s stages of moral development.


We’re all getting really good at using technology to avoid advertisements, but as we all know, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” – companies have to get you to find out about their products and hopefully buy them. But when do we step over the line? Is a little deception okay?

Resources on Native Advertising and Crowds for Hire


Related Episodes

How to Memorize Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development

The Psychology of Fundraising

Resources on Kohlberg

List of Good Resources on Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development