Opening Skinner’s Box
By Lauren Slater
Review by Lizzie (Experimental Psychology)
Finding one book that covers all the different areas of psychology is really hard! A book that I enjoyed reading before I applied to Oxford was Opening Skinner’s Box by Lauren Slater, which was recommended by my school.
The book has a brief overview of 20 famous psychology experiments from the twentieth century, from Milgram’s obedience to authority experiment to Loftus’ false memory experiments. Milgram’s study is one of the most famous social psychology experiments, mostly because of its dubious ethics. Milgram found that 65 percent of participants would give a lethal dosage of electricity in a learning task when instructed to do so by an experimenter, despite hearing screams from their partner participant (an actor). Meanwhile Loftus found that people could “recall” being lost in a supermarket very vividly with only the slightest suggestion although the event had never occurred.
As well as giving an overview of famous experiments, Slater describes her follow-up, either recreating the experiment or finding participants who were affected by the experiment. I enjoyed the relaxed style of the book and found the different experiments really interesting to read about and would recommend it for a brief insight into some of the more famous experiments we come across in the Experimental Psychology course. However, it really only covers the more social aspects of psychology- there are so many different branches of the subject to explore, from perception, cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology and many more.
Opening Skinner’s Box by Lauren Slater