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History and Systems of Psychology

BEHAVIORISM:Edward Lee Thorndike, Law of belongingness

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BEHAVIORISM:Albert Weiss, Edwin Holt, Learning, Canalization, Walter Hunter >>
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History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
VU
Lesson 17
BEHAVIORISM
One of the greatest developments in the history of mankind is the industrial revolution of the 18th
century. It marked the advent of a completely new era of thinking and approach towards gaining
knowledge. A rational approach was adopted and the ancient speculative methods given by the Greeks were
rejected. The industrial revolution had a deep impact on the development of human thoughts; therefore the
discipline of psychology was also bound to be impacted.
The path of this influence on psychology is easily traceable. As industry developed and manual
labor was shifted to machine labor, there were a number of changes in society and human behavior. New
towns were established, close to the factories; housing shifted from huge farm houses to small houses; labor
working hours and habits changed; dependence on modes of living changed as well. One of the impacts of
the industrial revolution was that, as the production shifted from manual labor to factories, the production
increased rapidly. Therefore, new markets were sought and it became imperative to predict and control
human behavior, in order to sell more. Another aspect of this development was that the attention of
researchers now shifted towards these workers aiming at getting maximum productivity from the industrial
labor. This productivity was based on human behavior and the result was that, the need to study human
behavior arose. As mentioned earlier, man had become more rational in his approach and had disposed of
speculation as a means of gaining knowledge. This made him focus on concrete facts and adopt scientific
approach in his study. Psychologists started analyzing, predicting and controlling human behavior since it
was visible while consciousness was not. It gave birth to the school of thought now called the Behaviorist
School.
Edward Lee Thorndike
Edward Lee Thorndike was an American behaviorist philosopher/psychologist, who was born in
1874 and died in 1949. After completing his studies Thorndike moved to Harvard University, where
William James had set up his psychological laboratory. Thorndike had read James and was impressed with
his work on functions of consciousness. He set up his lab at Harvard, working with chicks but later
transferred to James' house where he did his experiments on cats which are his most famous experiments.
He devised the "puzzle box" which he used for these experiments.
Based upon his experiments he formulated what he called "laws of learning," or how learning takes
place. In other words, Thorndike made efforts to learn how the process of learning actually takes place.
Before we look at those laws, first let us have a look at the concept of learning that Thorndike proposed.
He said that learning takes place by stimulus-response connections rather than by association; according to
him learning takes place by two ways which he called laws of learning. The laws are as follows:
i.
Law of effect
The law of effect states that all responses that followed by satisfaction are stamped into an
individual and he learns those responses. This means that any act that is performed by an
individual, when it is reinforced by a reward that brings satisfaction to the performer, the act
becomes learnt.
For example, if an animal such as a cat is rewarded with food if it performs a certain act, the act
shall be learnt by the cat. This is what Thorndike concluded through his experiments.
ii.
Law of exercise
The law of exercise states that responses that are repeated are also stamped in and become learnt.
This law does non focus on the reinforcement through satisfaction but states that when the
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History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
VU
individual keeps on performing a certain act, the act is learnt. In other words, the exercise that is
constantly performed by an individual is learnt by him or her.
The law of effect given by Thorndike is similar to Pavlov's law of conditioning by reinforcement
and the second law, i.e. law of exercise is similar to James's theory of habit formation due to repetition.
As mentioned earlier, Thorndike devised the puzzle box for his experiments. The puzzle box was a
box with a door operated through a lever in it. A string with a ring was attached with the lever, which
released the door of the box, when pulled. The box was big enough to accommodate a cat. Thorndike used
cats for his experiments. As the cat was trapped in the box, it tried hard to escape. The only escape possible
was through the door which opened by pulling the string attached to the lever. As the cat pulled the string
with its paw, the door of the box opened and it escaped. When the cat was put into the box a number of
times, it learnt to use the string to escape. Therefore, based on this observation, Thorndike came up with
his laws of learning.
Thorndike also emphasized on a concept important to learning, which he called the "Recency
effect." He saw in his experiments on cats that the last act in the series of acts by the cats, which is
reinforced, is learnt quickly. For example if a cat is rewarded for the last act which it performs in a series of
acts, the last one shall be learnt by the cat. Therefore, as the name implies, the law relates to the most recent
act performed by the subject which is learnt by it.
Thorndike performed further experiments to substantiate his laws of learning. This further
experimentation and observation lead him to repeal the law of exercise, and modify the law of effect. He
then proposed the "law of belongingness" to explain animal learning.
iii. Law of belongingness
The law of belongingness states that only relevant responses that "belong" to the learning situation
are learnt. For example, the moving of paws by the cat in the puzzle box is learnt but not pricking
of ears.
Thorndike could be classified as a behaviorist because he explained learning as a psychological
function in behavioristic, observational terms. He did try to look into consciousness but restricted his
studies to the behavior of animals and used comparative psychology to explain human behavior and
learning.
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Table of Contents:
  1. INTRODUCTION:Methodology, Grading, Course Overview up to Midterm
  2. ANCIENT GREEK PHILOSOPHY/PSYCHOLOGY:Socrates, Plato
  3. GREEK THINKERS:Aristotle, Contiguity, Contrast
  4. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 5TH TO 12TH CENTURY:Saint Augustine, Avicenna
  5. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 5TH TO 12TH CENTURY:Al-Ghazali, Ibn-Rushd, Averroes
  6. RENAISSANCE:Rene Descartes
  7. ASSOCIATIONISTS:Thomas Hobbes, John Locke
  8. ASSOCIATIONISTS:David Hume, FRENCH REVOLUTION, Denis Diderot
  9. GERMAN CONTRIBUTION:Wilhelm Liebniz, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Hegel
  10. INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION:RUSSIAN CONTRIBUTIONS
  11. RUSSIAN CONTRIBUTIONS:Ivan Pavlov, Reflex, Acquisition
  12. RUSSIAN CONTRIBUTIONS:Vladimir Bekhterev
  13. IMPACT OF PHYSICAL SCIENCES ON PSYCHOLOGY:Charles Darwin, Gustav Fechner
  14. STRUCTURALIST SCHOOL OF PSYCHOLOGY:Wilhelm Wundt
  15. FUNCTIONALISM:William James, John Dewey
  16. EUROPEAN FUNCTIONALISTS:David Katz, Edgar Rubin, Jean Piaget
  17. BEHAVIORISM:Edward Lee Thorndike, Law of belongingness
  18. BEHAVIORISM:Albert Weiss, Edwin Holt, Learning, Canalization, Walter Hunter
  19. BEHAVIORISM:J.B.Watson
  20. NEO-BEHAVIOURISTS:Clark Hull, Edward Tolman, Edwin Gutherie
  21. NEO-BEHAVIORISTS:B.F. Skinner, Karl Lashley, Donald Hebb, Hobart Mowrer
  22. GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY:Max Wertheimer, Similarity, Proximity, Closure
  23. GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY:Wolfgang Kohler, Kurt Koffka, Edward De Bono
  24. GESTALT SCHOOL AND DYNAMIC PSYCHOLOGY:Kurt Lewin, DYNAMIC PSYCHOLOGY
  25. HISTORICO-EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY:Leon Vygotsky, Sergei Rubenstein
  26. HISTORICO-EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY:Alexei Leontiev, K.M Bykov
  27. SCIENTIFIC LOOK AT MENTAL DISORDERS
  28. SCIENTIFIC LOOK AT MENTAL ILLNESS:Philippe Pinel, Sameul Tuke
  29. SIGMUND FREUD AND THE PSYCHOANALYTIC MOVEMENT:The Superego
  30. SIGMUND FREUD AND PSYCHOANALYTICAL MOVEMENT:Anna Freud
  31. CARL JUNG AND ANALYTICAL PSYCHOLOGY:Carl Gustav Jung
  32. JUNG’S ANALYTICAL PSYCHOLOGY:Carl Gustav Jung
  33. ALFRED ADLER AND INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY:Alfred Adler
  34. NEO-FREUDIANS:Harry Stack Sullivan, Karen Horney
  35. NEO-FREUDIANS:Karen Horney, Erich Fromm
  36. ERIKSON and MORENO:J.L. Moreno, Protagonist, Audience, Role playing
  37. HUMANISTIC PSYCHOLOGY:Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Positive Psychology
  38. MODERN TRENDS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT
  39. MODERN TRENDS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT:Biological Approaches
  40. ANTI-PSYCHIATRY MOVEMENT:D.L. Rosenhan, R.D. Laing, Aaron Esterson
  41. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE THIRD WORLD:Frantz Fanon
  42. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE THIRD WORLD CHINA AND PAKISTAN
  43. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 21st CENTURY
  44. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 21ST CENTURY:Consumer Psychology
  45. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 21ST CENTURY:Sports Psychology, Positive Psychology