OPENING SKINNER'S BOX: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century.
By Lauren Slater. Norton. 276 pages. $24.95
In the 1940s, psychologist B. F. Skinner put his daughter in a Plexiglas box he called the "Heir Conditioner." His theory, which launched one of the longest-running debates in psychology, was that scientists could shape human behavior through controlled environments and rewards. Skinner conditioned rats to press levers and cats to play piano, and he's reviled for trying to control humans through science. As the story goes, he was somehow connected to the Nazis, and his daughter Deborah, raised in the box, lost her mind at 31, sued him, then shot herself in a bowling alley.
But according to Lauren Slater, a psychologist and the author of Prozac Diary (1998), that story is mostly myth. With her new book, she hopes to set the record straight about Skinner and other experimental psychologists. In 10...
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