Edwin L Thorndike Biography: (1874- 1949) He was an American psychologist, who’s thinking is thoroughly associationistic. He was a functionalist in his emphasis on the utilitarian aspect of psychology. According to him, psychology is about the stimulus- response connections. He was of the view that behavior can be analyzed into associations. He said that the behavioral processes are quantifiable. Believed that behavior was explicable on the basis of nothing but stimulus- response connections inherited and acquired.
Initial work by in1898 (published dissertation) studied problem solving in animals. Tried to analyze the conditions under which animals learn. Focus of the study: the relationship between the animals’ response and their consequences. Main finding: The consequence of any response determines if the response will be repeated in future or not:
The Law of Effect by Any response that leads to an outcome that is satisfying for the organism is likely to be repeated; a response leading to an outcome that is not satisfying is not likely to be repeated
Association by Contiguity
• The organism forms an association or connection between the response and its consequences. For it to be effective, the response and the outcome have to be closely linked — both in time and space • The theory drew attention towards the significance of reward and punishment in learning new behaviors Criticism against Thorndike’s Approach It was not clear about what exactly ‘Satisfying’ meant.