Behavior: A Skinnerian Innovation: Baby in a Box

IN 1945, when Deborah Skinner was eleven months old, she had a rather dubious distinction: she was the most talked-about infant in America—the famous "baby in a box." The box, or "air crib" as her father called it, was his own invention, a glassed-in, insulated, air-controlled crib that he thought would revolutionize child rearing and, in line with his behaviorist theories, produce happier, healthier children.

One of the major practical problems in raising a young baby, Skinner reasoned, is the simple one of keeping it warm. The infant is usually covered by half a...

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