According to Thorndike, psychology is the study of stimulus-response connections. He was of the view that behavior can be analyzed into associations. He said that behavior processes are quantifiable. To him, if something exists, it must exist in some amount, and then it can be measured. Thorndike was a very prototype of this type of thinking, believing that behavior explicable on the basis of nothing but Stimulus-Response connections, inherited and acquired. Thorndike’s law of effect is a very famous concept of learning.
History Of Edward Lee Thorndike
He was one of the brilliant students of Cattell. Thorndike chose “Association in Animals” as the title of his thesis, reminiscent of British association psychology, but before submitting his dissertation he retitled it Animal Intelligence.
Adaptive changes in animal behavior he regarded as learning the formation and reinforcement of associations that served to strengthen bonds of association.
These associations came to be termed connections bonds and his system connectionism. He was greatly influenced by James and Hall. He was markedly more mechanical as well as being deterministic.
Thorndike’s Law Of Effect
His two laws of learning are exercise and law of effect, According to him, the behavior is predictable, formulated two major behavioral laws.
He held that as situations will produce like responses in the same organism and that if the same situation produces on two occasions two different responses, the animals must have changed.
Thus he held that the same cause produces the same effect. The two principal laws
- The Law Of Effect
- The Law Of Exercise
Satisfying Experience Tend To Be Retained
Thorndike’s law of effect states that satisfying experiences tend to be retained and annoying ones eliminated, the second holds that the more frequent recent and vigorous bond exercised is the one most effectively stamped in the organism.
Thus learning is not mental or ideational but mechanistic, a response to a stimulus.
His two laws served as explanatory of the connections are formed between situations (stimuli) so that a person’s feelings, wants knowledge, and behavior is grounded on the connections established between stimuli.
The effectualness of the law of effect is contingent on satisfying or unsatisfying consequences and in turn, the satisfying tend to be repeated.
Belongingness In Thorndike’s Law Of Effect
Though Thorndike’s experiments were limited to animals, he extended his theory to account for human intelligence as well.
With time he acknowledged diverse dimensions and types of intelligence as well as a principle he termed “belongingness” i.e one learns more readily when things are viewed as connected or as seeming “ to go together”.
Thorndike Modifies His Law Of Effect
During the 1930s, Thorndike repeated his law of exercise remarking that
if a certain state of affairs acts upon a man a thousand times a week for a year, he will, so far as the mere repetition of that state of affairs is concerned, probably respond no better the last week than the first. He also modified his law of effect saying that
“ Rewarding a connection always strengthened it substantially punishing its weekend it little or not at all”.
Spread Or Scatter Of Effect (Reward):
Thorndike was led to the scattering of effect in which rewards are diffused, according to benefit to proximate responses found in the immediate vicinity of the correct one.
For example, it was founded that when incorrect responses were made they were the ones nearest to those that were correct.
Transfer Of Training:
He and Woodworth at Columbia at the same university, the two collaborated in 1901 on an important paper dealing with the transfer of training”.
They titled it “ the influence of improvement in one mental function upon the efficiency of other functions.
Transfer occurs when elements in one function learned are identical to those necessary in the other function that is to be learned.
One Cannot Train The Mind In General
Consequently, training in one subject does not improve the mind so that it can generalize to the training of other subjects, that is, one cannot train the mind in general, for the mind is “ on its dynamic side a machine for making particular reactions to particular situations”. These findings corroborated Thorndike’s learning theory, learning being comprised of changes in specific bonds.
Conclusion-Thorndike’s Law Of Effect
According to the classical law of effect, the satisfaction attendant upon a successful outcome vivifies, strengthens, and reinforces the success getting responses.
Thereby increasing the chance of their subsequent selection and repetition. The unreinforced responses, on the other hand, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly (but always inevitably if the task is learned) drop out.
Psychologists prefer the principle of reinforcement to the law of effect as a primary determiner in response selection.
They argue that reinforcement is broader and more objective than effect.
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