Source : Korean SAT English 2021 by Korean Education Broadcasting System - 86p.6

Ritualistic behaviour designed to influence future events is not, it seems, limited to humans.

B. F. Skinner’s classic research into ‘superstition in the pigeon’, conducted at Indiana University in 1948, supports this hypothesis. Skinner described an experiment in which pigeons were placed inside a box and were presented with a small piece of food once every fifteen seconds, regardless of their behaviour.

After a few minutes the birds developed various little unusual rituals, such as walking round in circles, moving their heads up and down and so on. The pigeons appeared to have concluded that their little routines were causing the release of the food even though in reality there was no relationship whatsoever.

Skinner’s explanation for this phenomenon was that the accidental pairing of the release of food early on in the process with whatever the bird happened to be doing was enough to reinforce that particular type of activity.


  • This question and answer is made by me to practice for expected essay questions in my student's finals.


Q : What motivated the pigeons the reinforce their ritualistic behavior? Describe using in ten to twenty words.

A : It was the accidental pairing of the release of food early on in the process with whatever the bird happened to be doing.

If you find any improper words or content, please let me know.