You are on page 1of 13

The Piaget stages of development is a blueprint that describes the stages of normal intellectual development,

from infancy through adulthood. This includes thought, judgment, and knowledge. The stages were named
after psychologist and developmental biologist Jean Piaget, who recorded the intellectual development and
abilities of infants, children, and teens.
Piaget's four stages of intellectual (or cognitive) development are:
Sensorimotor. Birth through ages 18-24 months.
Preoperational. Toddlerhood (18-24 months) through early childhood (age 7).
Concrete operational. Ages 7 to 12.
Formal operational. Adolescence through adulthood.
Piaget acknowledged that some children may pass through the stages at different ages than the averages
noted above and that some children may show characteristics of more than one stage at a given time. But he
insisted that cognitive development always follows this sequence, that stages cannot be skipped, and that each
stage is marked by new intellectual abilities and a more complex understanding of the world.
Sensorimotor Stage- During the early stages, infants are only aware of what is immediately in front of them.
They focus on what they see, what they are doing, and physical interactions with their immediate environment.
Because they don't yet know how things react, they're constantly experimenting with activities such as shaking
or throwing things, putting things in their mouths, and learning about the world through trial and error. The later
stages include goal-oriented behavior which brings about a desired result.
At about age 7 to 9 months, infants begin to realize that an object exists even if it can no longer be seen. This
important milestone -- known as object permanence -- is a sign that memory is developing.
After infants start crawling, standing, and walking, their increased physical mobility leads to increased cognitive
development. Near the end of the sensorimotor stage, infants reach another important milestone -- early
language development, a sign that they are developing some symbolic abilities.

Preoperational Stage- During this stage, young children are able to think about things symbolically. Their
language use becomes more mature. They also develop memory and imagination, which allows them to
understand the difference between past and future, and engage in make-believe.
But their thinking is based on intuition and still not completely logical. They cannot yet grasp more complex
concepts such as cause and effect, time, and comparison.

Concrete Operational Stage- At this time, elementary-age and preadolescent children demonstrate logical,
concrete reasoning.
Children's thinking becomes less egocentric and they are increasingly aware of external events. They begin to
realize that one's own thoughts and feelings are unique and may not be shared by others or may not even be
part of reality. Children also develop operational thinking -- the ability to perform reversible mental actions.
During this stage, however, most children still can't tackle a problem with several variables in a systematic way.

Formal Operational Stage- Adolescents who reach this fourth stage of intellectual development are able to
logically use symbols related to abstract concepts, such as algebra and science. They can think about multiple
variables in systematic ways, formulate hypotheses, and consider possibilities. They also can ponder abstract
relationships and concepts such as justice.
Although Piaget believed in lifelong intellectual development, he insisted that the formal operational stage is the
final stage of cognitive development, and that continued intellectual development in adults depends on the
accumulation of knowledge.


Erikson's Psycho-Social Theory of DevelopmentPresentation Transcript
1. Eriksons psychosocial term isderived from the two source words namely psychological or the
root,psycho relating to the mind, brain,personality etc. and social orexternal relationships
andenvironment, both at the heart ofEriksons theory.
2. Each stage involves a psychosocialcrisis of two opposing emotionalforces. A useful term is used
byErikson for these opposing forcesis contrary disposition. Each crisisstage relates to a corresponding
lifestage and its inherent challenges.
3. Erikson used the word syntonicfor the first-listed positivedispositions in each crisis anddystonic for
the second-listeddispositions. Erikson connectedthem with the word versus.
4. If a stage is manage well, we carryaway a certain virtue or psychosocialstrength which will help us true
the restof the stages of our lives. Successfullypassing through each crisis involveachieving a ratio or
balance betweenthe two opposing dispositions thatrepresent each crisis.
5. On the other hand, if we dont do so well,we may develop maladaptations andmalignancies, as well as
endanger all ourfuture development. A malignancy is theworse of the two, and involves too little ofthe
positive and too much of the negativeaspect of the task. A maladaptation is notquite as bad and involves
too much of thepositive and too little of the negative.
6. The 8 Psychosocial Stages of DevelopmentSTAGE 1 STAGE I INFANCYToo much TRUST Too much
MISTRUSTMALADAPTATION Psychosocial Crisis MALIGNANCY Sensory TRUST vs. MISTRUST
Withdrawal maladjustment VIRTUE HOPE
7. STAGE 2 STAGE II EARLY CHILDHOODToo much AUTONOMY Too much SHAME Psychosocial
Crisis MALADAPTATION MALIGNANCY AUTONOMY vs. SHAME Impulsiveness Compulsiveness and
DOUBT VIRTUE DETERMINATION
8. STAGE 3 STAGE III EARLY CHILDHOODToo much INITIATIVE Too much GUILT MALADAPTATION
Psychosocial Crisis MALIGNANCY Ruthlessness INITIATIVE vs. GUILT Inhibition VIRTUE COURAGE
9. STAGE 4 STAGE IV SCHOOL-AGE STAGEToo much INDUSTRY Too much INFERIORITY
Psychosocial Crisis MALADAPTATION MALIGNANCY INDUSTRY vs. Virtuosity Inertia INFERIORITY
VIRTUE COMPETENCY
10. STAGE 5 STAGE V ADOLESCENCEToo much EGO IDENTITY Too much ROLE CONFUSION
Psychosocial Crisis MALADAPTATION MALIGNANCY EGO IDENTITY vs. ROLE Fanaticism
Repudiation CONFUSION VIRTUE FIDELITY
11. STAGE 6 STAGE VI YOUNG ADULTHOODToo much INTIMACY Too much ISOLATION
MALADAPTATION Psychosocial Crisis MALIGNANCY Promiscuity INTIMACY vs. Exclusion ISOLATION
VIRTUE LOVE
12. STAGE 7 STAGE VII MIDDLE ADULTHOODToo much GENERATIVITY Too much STAGNATION
MALADAPTATION Psychosocial Crisis MALIGNANCY Over Extension GENERATIVITY vs. Rejectivity
STAGNATION VIRTUE CARE
13. STAGE 8 STAGE VIII LATE ADULTHOODToo much INTEGRITY Too much DESPAIR
MALADAPTATION Psychosocial Crisis MALIGNANCY Presumption INTEGRITY vs. DESPAIR Disdain
VIRTUE WISDOM


Vygotskys sociocultural theory of human learning describes learning as a
social process and the origination of human intelligence in society or culture.
The major theme of Vygotskys theoretical framework is that social
interaction plays a fundamental role in the development of cognition.
Vygotsky believed everything is learned on two levels.
First, through interaction with others, and then integrated into the individuals mental
structure.

Every function in the childs cultural development appears twice: first, on the
social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people
(interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological). This applies
equally to voluntary attention, to logical memory, and to the formation of
concepts. All the higher functions originate as actual relationships between
individuals. (Vygotsky, 1978, p.57)

A second aspect of Vygotskys theory is the idea that the potential for cognitive
development is limited to a "zone of proximal development" (ZPD). This "zone" is the area
of exploration for which the student is cognitively prepared, but requires help and social
interaction to fully develop (Briner, 1999). A teacher or more experienced peer is able to
provide the learner with "scaffolding" to support the students evolving understanding of
knowledge domains or development of complex skills. Collaborative learning, discourse,
modelling, and scaffolding are strategies for supporting the intellectual knowledge and skills
of learners and facilitating intentional learning.

The implications of Vygotsky theory are that learners should be provided with socially rich
environments in which to explore knowledge domains with their fellow students, teachers
and outside experts. ICTs can be used to support the learning environment by providing
tools for discourse, discussions, collaborative writing, and problem-solving, and by providing
online support systems to scaffold students evolving understanding and cognitive growth.

KOHLBERG'S STAGES OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT

Lawrence Kohlberg was a moral philosopher and student of child development. He was director
of Harvard's Center for Moral Education. His special area of interest is the moral development of
children - how they develop a sense of right, wrong, and justice.

Kohlberg observed that growing children advance through definite stages of moral development
in a manner similar to their progression through Piaget's well-known stages of cognitive
development. His observations and testing of children and adults, led him to theorize that
human beings progress consecutively from one stage to the next in an invariant sequence, not
skipping any stage or going back to any previous stage. These are stages of thought
processing, implying qualitatively different modes of thinking and of problem solving at each
stage.

These conclusions have been verified in cross-cultural studies done
in Turkey, Taiwan, Yucatan, Honduras, India, United States, Canada, Britain, and Israel.

An outline of these developmental stages follows:

A. PREMORAL OR PRECONVENTIONAL STAGES:

FOCUS: Self
AGES: Up to 10-13 years of age, most prisoners
Behavior motivated by anticipation of pleasure or pain.

STAGE 1: PUNISHMENT AND OBEDIENCE: Might Makes Right

Avoidance of physical punishment and deference to power. Punishment is an automatic
response of physical retaliation. The immediate physical consequences of an action
determine its goodness or badness. The atrocities carried out by soldiers during the
holocaust who were simply "carrying out orders" under threat of punishment, illustrate
that
adults as well as children may function at stage one level. "Might makes right."

QUESTIONS: What must I do to avoid punishment? What can I do to force my will upon
others?

STAGE 2: INSTRUMENTAL EXCHANGE: The Egoist

Marketplace exchange of favors or blows. "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."
Justice
is: "Do unto others as they do unto you." Individual does what is necessary,
makes
concessions only as necessary to satisfy his own desires. Right action consists of what
instrumentally satisfies one's own needs. Vengeance is considered a moral duty. People
are valued in terms of their utility. "An eye for an eye."

QUESTIONS: What's in it for me? What must I do to avoid pain, gain pleasure?

B. CONVENTIONAL MORALITY:

FOCUS: Significant Others, "Tyranny of the They" (They say.)
AGES: Beginning in middle school, up to middle age - most people end up here
Acceptance of the rules and standards of one's group.


STAGE 3: INTERPERSONAL (TRIBAL) CONFORMITY: Good Boy/Good Girl

Right is conformity to the stereotypical behavioral, values expectations of one's society
or
peers. Individual acts to gain approval of others. Good behavior is that which pleases or
helps others within the group. Everybody is doing it." Majority understanding ("common
sense") is seen as "natural." One earns approval by being conventionally "respectable"
and
"nice." Peer pressure makes being different the unforgivable sin. Self sacrifice to group
demands is expected. Values based in conformity, loyalty to group. Sin is a
breach of the
expectations of one's immediate social order (confuses sin with group, class norms).
Retribution, however, at this stage is collective. Individual vengeance is not allowed.
Forgiveness is preferable to revenge. Punishment is mainly for deterrence. Failure to
punish is "unfair." "If he can get away with it, why can't I?" Many religious people end up
here.

QUESTION: What must I do to be seen as a good boy/girl (socially acceptable)?

STAGE 4: LAW AND ORDER (SOCIETAL CONFORMITY): The Good Citizen

Respect for fixed rules, laws and properly constituted authority. Defense of the given
social
and institutional order for its own sake. Responsibility toward the welfare of others in the
society. "Justice" normally refers to criminal justice. Justice demands that the wrongdoer
be punished, that he "pay his debt to society," and that law abiders be rewarded. "A
good
day's pay for a good day's work." Injustice is failing to reward work or punish demerit.
Right
behavior consists of maintaining the social order for its own sake. Self-sacrifice to larger
social order is expected. Authority figures are seldom questioned. "He must be right.
He's
the Pope (or the President, or the Judge, or God)." Consistency and precedent must be
maintained. For most adults, this is the highest stage they will attain.

QUESTION: What if everyone did that?

STAGE 4 : The Cynic

Between the conventional stages and the post-conventional Levels 5 and 6, there is a
transitional stage. Some college-age students who come to see conventional morality as
socially constructed, thus, relative and arbitrary, but have not yet discovered universal
ethical principles, may drop into a hedonistic ethic of "do your own thing." This was well
noted in the hippie culture of the l960's. Disrespect for conventional morality was
especially
infuriating to the Stage 4 mentality, and indeed was calculated to be so. Kohlberg found
that some people get "stuck" in this in-between stage marked by egoism and skepticism,
never able to completely leave behind conventional reasoning even after recognizing its
inadequacies. Such people are often marked by uncritical cynicism ("All politicians are
crooksnothing really matters anyway"), disillusionment and alienation.

QUESTION: Why should I believe anything?

C. POSTCONVENTIONAL OR PRINCIPLED MORALITY:

FOCUS: Justice, Dignity for all life, Common Good
AGES: Few reach this stage, most not prior to middle age

STAGE 5: PRIOR RIGHTS AND SOCIAL CONTRACT: The Philosopher/King

Moral action in a specific situation is not defined by reference to a checklist of rules, but
from logical application of universal, abstract, moral principles. Individuals have natural
or
inalienable rights and liberties that are prior to society and must be protected by society.
Retributive justice is repudiated as counterproductive, violative of notions of human
rights.
Justice distributed proportionate to circumstances and need. "Situation ethics." The
statement, "Justice demands punishment," which is a self-evident truism to the Stage 4
mind, is just as self-evidently nonsense at Stage 5. Retributive punishment is neither
rational nor just, because it does not promote the rights and welfare of the individual and
inflicts further violence upon society. Only legal sanctions that fulfill that purpose are
imposed-- protection of future victims, deterrence, and rehabilitation. Individual acts out
of
mutual obligation and a sense of public good. Right action tends to be defined in terms
of
general individual rights, and in terms of standards that have been critically examined
and
agreed upon by the whole society--e.g. the Constitution. The freedom of the individual
should be limited by society only when it infringes upon someone else's freedom.
Conventional authorities are increasingly rejected in favor of critical reasoning. Laws are
challenged by questions of justice.

QUESTIONS: What is the just thing to do given all the circumstances? What will bring
the
most good to the largest number of people?


STAGE 6: UNIVERSAL ETHICAL PRINCIPLES: The Prophet/Messiah

An individual who reaches this stage acts out of universal principles based upon the
equality and worth of all living beings. Persons are never means to an end, but are ends
in
themselves. Having rights means more than individual liberties. It means that every
individual is due consideration of his dignity interests in every situation, those interests
being of equal importance with one's own. This is the "Golden Rule" model. A list of
rules
inscribed in stone is no longer necessary. At this level, God is understood to say what is
right because it is right; His sayings are not right, just because it is God who said them.
Abstract principles are the basis for moral decision making, not concrete rules. Stage
6 individuals are rare, often value their principles more than their own life, often seen as
incarnating the highest human potential. Thus they are often martyred by those of lower
stages shamed by seeing realized human potential compared with their own partially
realized levels of development. (Stoning the prophets, killing the messenger). Examples:
Mohandas Gandhi, Jesus of Nazareth, Gautamo Buddha, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dag
Hamerskjold

QUESTIONS: What will foster life in its fullest for all living beings? What is justice for all?


THE FOLLOWING ARE OBSERVATIONS THAT WERE MADE
BY KOHLBERG FURTHER EXPLAINING HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN STAGES.

1. STAGE DEVELOPMENT IS INVARIANT AND SEQUENTIAL.

One must progress through the stages in order, and one cannot get to a higher stage without
passing through the stage immediately preceding it.Higher stages incorporate the thinking and
experience of all lower stages of reasoning into current levels of reasoning but transcends them
for higher levels. (e.g, Stage Four reasoning will understand the reasoning of Stages 1-3 but will
reason at a higher level) A belief that a leap into moral maturity is possible is in sharp contrast to
the facts of developmental research. Moral development is growth, and like all growth, takes
place according to a pre-determined sequence. To expect someone to grow into high moral
maturity overnight would be like expecting someone to walk before he crawls.

2. IN STAGE DEVELOPMENT, SUBJECTS CANNOT COMPREHEND MORAL REASONING
AT A STAGE MORE THAN ONE STAGE BEYOND THEIR OWN.

If Johnny is oriented to see good almost exclusively as that which brings him satisfaction, how
will he understand a concept of good in which the "good" may bring him no tangible pleasure
at all. The moral maxim "It is better to give than to receive" reflects a high level of
development. The child who honestly asks you why it is better to give than to receive, does so
because he does not and cannot understand such thinking. To him, "better" means better for
him. And how can it be better for him to give, than to get. Thus, higher stages can comprehend
lower stages of reasoning though they find it less compelling. But lower stages cannot
comprehend higher stages of reasoning.

3. IN STAGE DEVELOPMENT INDIVIDUALS ARE COGNITIVELY ATTRACTED TO
REASONING ONE LEVEL ABOVE THEIR OWNPRESENT PREDOMINANT LEVEL.

The person has questions and problems the solutions for which are less satisfying at his present
level. Since reasoning at one stage higher is intelligible and since it makes more sense and
resolves more difficulties, it is more attractive. For example, two brothers both want the last
piece of pie. The bigger, stronger brother will probably get it. The little brother suggests they
share it. He is thinking at level two, rather than at level one. The solution for him is more
attractive: getting some rather than none. An adult who functions at level one consistently will
end up in prison or dead.

4. IN STAGE DEVELOPMENT, MOVEMENT THROUGH THE STAGES IS EFFECTED WHEN
COGNITIVE DISEQUILIBRIUM IS CREATED, THAT IS, WHEN A PERSON'S COGNITIVE
OUTLOOK IS NOT ADEQUATE TO COPE WITH A GIVEN MORAL DILEMMA.

The person who is growing, will look for more and more adequate ways of solving problems. If
he has no problems, no dilemmas, he is not likely to look for solutions. He will not grow
morally. (The Hero, prior to his calling, lives in comfortable stagnation. Small towns are
notorious for their low level "provincial" reasoning). In the apple pie example. The big brother,
who can just take the pie and get away with it, is less likely to look for a better solution than the
younger brother who will get none and probably a beating in the struggle. Life crises often
present opportunities for moral development. These include loss of one's job, moving to another
location, death of a significant other, unforeseen tragedies and disasters.

5. IT IS QUITE POSSIBLE FOR A HUMAN BEING TO BE PHYSICALLY MATURE BUT NOT
MORALLY MATURE

Development of moral reasoning is not automatic. It does not simply occur in tandem with
chronological aging. If a child is spoiled, never having to accommodate for others needs, if he is
raised in an environment where level two thinking by others gets the job done, he may never
generate enough questions to propel him to a higher level of moral reasoning. People who live
in small towns or enclaves within larger cities and never encounter those outside their tribal
boundaries are unlikely to have cause to develop morally. One key factor in development of
moral reasoning is the regularity with which one encounters moral dilemmas, even if only
hypothetically. Kohlberg found that the vast majority of adults never develop past conventional
moral reasoning, the bulk of them coming to rest in either Stage 3 Tribal or Stage 4 Social
Conventional stages. This is partly because the reinforcement mechanisms of the "common
sense" of everyday life provided little reason or opportunity to confront moral dilemmas and thus
one's own moral reasoning


Freuds Stages of Psychosexual Development
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is probably the most well known theorist when it comes to the development
of personality. Freuds Stages of Psychosexual Development are, like other stage theories, completed in
a predetermined sequence and can result in either successful completion or a healthy personality or can
result in failure, leading to an unhealthy personality. This theory is probably the most well known as well
as the most controversial, as Freud believed that we develop through stages based upon a particular
erogenous zone. During each stage, an unsuccessful completion means that a child becomes fixated on
that particular erogenous zone and either over or under-indulges once he or she becomes an adult.
Oral Stage (Birth to 18 months). During the oral stage, the child if focused on oral pleasures (sucking).
Too much or too little gratification can result in an Oral Fixation or Oral Personality which is evidenced by
a preoccupation with oral activities. This type of personality may have a stronger tendency to smoke,
drink alcohol, over eat, or bite his or her nails. Personality wise, these individuals may become overly
dependent upon others, gullible, and perpetual followers. On the other hand, they may also fight these
urges and develop pessimism and aggression toward others.
Anal Stage (18 months to three years). The childs focus of pleasure in this stage is on eliminating and
retaining feces. Through societys pressure, mainly via parents, the child has to learn to control anal
stimulation. In terms of personality, after effects of an anal fixation during this stage can result in an
obsession with cleanliness, perfection, and control (anal retentive). On the opposite end of the spectrum,
they may become messy and disorganized (anal expulsive).
Phallic Stage (ages three to six). The pleasure zone switches to the genitals. Freud believed that during
this stage boy develop unconscious sexual desires for their mother. Because of this, he becomes rivals
with his father and sees him as competition for the mothers affection. During this time, boys also develop
a fear that their father will punish them for these feelings, such as by castrating them. This group of
feelings is known as Oedipus Complex ( after the Greek Mythology figure who accidentally killed his
father and married his mother).
Later it was added that girls go through a similar situation, developing unconscious sexual attraction to
their father. Although Freud Strongly disagreed with this, it has been termed the Electra Complex by more
recent psychoanalysts.
According to Freud, out of fear of castration and due to the strong competition of his father, boys
eventually decide to identify with him rather than fight him. By identifying with his father, the boy develops
masculine characteristics and identifies himself as a male, and represses his sexual feelings toward his
mother. A fixation at this stage could result in sexual deviancies (both overindulging and avoidance) and
weak or confused sexual identity according to psychoanalysts.

Latency Stage (age six to puberty). Its during this stage that sexual urges remain repressed and children
interact and play mostly with same sex peers.

Genital Stage (puberty on). The final stage of psychosexual development begins at the start of puberty
when sexual urges are once again awakened. Through the lessons learned during the previous stages,
adolescents direct their sexual urges onto opposite sex peers, with the primary focus of pleasure is the
genitals.


CONNECTIONISM (EDWARD L. THORNDIKE 1898)
The prominent role of Aristotles laws of association in the 1900s may largely be due to the work of
Edward L. Thorndikethe recognized founder of a learning theory [that] dominated all others in
America for nearly half a century (Bower & Hilgard, 1981, p. 21). Thorndikes theory was based
initially on a series of puzzle box experiments that he used to plot learning curves of animals. In
these experiments learning was defined as a function of the amount of time required for the animal
to escape from the box. A full account of his experiments, including detailed descriptions of the
puzzle boxes he used and examples of learning curves that were plotted, can be found in Animal
intelligence (Thorndike, 1898).
In Thorndikes view, learning is the process of forming associations or bonds, which he defined as
the connection of a certain act with a certain situation and resultant pleasure (p. 8). His work
leading up to 1898 provided the beginning of an exact estimate of just what associations, simple
and compound, an animal can form, how quickly he forms them, and how long he retains them (p.
108).
Although his original experimental subjects were cats, dogs, and chicks, Thorndike clearly expressed
his intention of applying his work to human learning when he said, the main purpose of the study of
the animal mind is to learn the development of mental life down through the phylum, to trace in
particular the origin of human faculty (1898, p. 2). From his work with animals he inferred as
necessary steps in the evolution of human faculty, a vast increase in the number of associations (p.
108). A decade and a half later he expanded on the theme of human learning in a three volume
series entitled, Educational psychology, with volume titles, The original nature of man (1913a), The
psychology of learning (1913b), and Mental work and fatigue and individual differences and their
causes (1914b). The material in these books was very comprehensive and targeted advanced
students of psychology. He summarized the fundamental subject matter of the three volumes in a
single, shorter textbook entitled, Educational psychology: briefer course (Thorndike, 1914a). In these
volumes Thorndike provided a formative culmination of his theory of learning in the form of three
laws of learning:
1. Law of Readiness The law of readiness was intended to account for the motivational aspects of
learning and was tightly coupled to the language of the science of neurology. It was defined in terms
of the conduction unit, which term Thorndike (1914a) used to refer to the neuron, neurons,
synapse, synapses, part of a neuron, part of a synapse, parts of neurons or parts of synapses
whatever makes up the path which is ready for conduction (p. 54). In its most concise form, the law
of readiness was stated as follows, for a conduction unit ready to conduct to do so is satisfying, and
for it not to do so is annoying (p. 54). The law of readiness is illustrated through two intuitive
examples given by Thorndike:
The sight of the prey makes the animal run after it, and also puts the conductions and connections
involved in jumping upon it when near into a state of excitability or readiness to be made.When a
child sees an attractive object at a distance, his neurons may be said to prophetically prepare for the
whole series of fixating it with the eyes, running toward it, seeing it within reach, grasping, feeling it
in his hand, and curiously manipulating it. (p. 53)
2. Law of Exercise The law of exercise had two parts: (a) the law of use and (b) the law of disuse.
This law stated that connections grow stronger when usedwhere strength is defined as vigor and
duration as well as the frequency of its making (p. 70)and grow weaker when not used.
3. Law of Effect The law of effect added to the law of exercise the notion that connections are
strengthened only when the making of the connection results in a satisfying state of affairs and that
they are weakened when the result is an annoying state of affairs.
These three laws were supplemented by five characteristics of learning secondary in scope and
importance only to the laws of readiness, exercise, and effect . They are
1. Multiple response or varied reaction When faced with a problem an animal will try one response
after another until it finds success.
2. Set or attitude The responses that an animal will try, and the results that it will find satisfying,
depend largely on the animals attitude or state at the time.
The chick, according to his age, hunger, vitality, sleepiness, and the like, may be in one or another
attitude toward the external situation. A sleepier and less hungry chick will, as a rule, be set less
toward escape-movements when confined; its neurons involved in roaming, perceiving companions
and feeding will be less ready to act; it will not, in popular language, try so hard to get out or care
so much about being out
3. Partial activity or prepotency of elements Certain features of a situation may be prepotent in
determining a response than others and an animal is able to attend to critical elements and ignore
less important ones. This ability to attend to parts of a situation makes possible response by analogy
and learning through insight.
Similarly, a cat that has learned to get out of a dozen boxesin each case by pulling some loop,
turning some bar, depressing a platform, or the likewill, in a new box, be, as we say, more
attentive to small objects on the sides of the box than it was before. The connections made may
then be, not absolutely with the gross situation as a total, but predominantly with some element or
elements of it.
4. Assimilation Due to the assimilation of analogous elements between two stimuli, an animal will
respond to a novel stimulus in the way it has previously responded to a similar stimulus. In
Thorndikes words, To any situations, which have no special original or acquired response of their
own, the response made will be that which by original or acquired nature is connected with some
situation which they resemble. (Thorndike, 1914a, p. 135)
5. Associative shifting Associative shifting refers to the transfer of a response evoked by a given
stimulus to an entirely different stimulus.
The ordinary animal tricks in response to verbal signals are convenient illustrations. One, for
example, holds up before a cat a bit of fish, saying, Stand up. The cat, if hungry enough, and not of
fixed contrary habit, will stand up in response to the fish. The response, however, contracts bonds
also with the total situation, and hence to the human being in that position giving that signal as well
as to the fish. After enough trials, by proper arrangement, the fish can be omitted, the other
elements of the situation serving to evoke the response. Association may later be further shifted to
the oral signal alone. (Thorndike, 1914a, p. 136)
Sixteen years after publishing his theory in the Educational Psychology series based on experiments
with animals, Thorndike published twelve lectures that reported on experiments performed with
human subjects between 1927 and 1930 (see Thorndike, 1931). The results of these experiments
led Thorndike to make some modifications to his laws of connectionism.
The first change was to qualify the law of exercise. It was shown that the law of exercise, in and of
itself, does not cause learning, but is dependent upon the law of effect. In an experiment in which
subjects were blindfolded and repeatedly asked to draw a four-inch line with one quick movement
Thorndike discovered that doing so 3,000 times caused no learning because the lines drawn in the
eleventh or twelfth sittings were not demonstrably better than or different from those drawn in the
first or second (Thorndike, 1931, p. 10). He summarized this finding by saying,
Our question is whether the mere repetition of a situation in and of itself causes learning, and in
particular whether the more frequent connections tend, just because they are more frequent, to wax
in strength at the expense of the less frequent. Our answer is No. (p. 13)
However, in drawing this conclusion, Thorndike was not disproving the law of exercise, but merely
qualifying it (by saying that repetition must be guided by feedback):
It will be understood, of course, that repetition of a situation is ordinarily followed by learning,
because ordinarily we reward certain of the connections leading from it and punish others by calling
the responses to which they respectively lead right or wrong, or by otherwise favoring and thwarting
them. Had I opened my eyes after each shove of the pencil during the second and later sittings and
measured the lines and been desirous of accuracy in the task, the connections leading to 3.8, 3.9,
4.0, 4.1, and 4.2 would have become more frequent until I reached my limit of skill in the task. (p.
12-13)
The second change was to recast the relative importance of reward and punishment under the law of
effect. Through a variety of experiments Thorndike concluded that satisfiers (reward) and annoyers
(punishment) are not equal in their power to strengthen or weaken a connection, respectively. In one
of these experiments students learned Spanish vocabulary by selecting for each Spanish word one of
five possible English meanings followed by the rewarding feedback of being told Right or the
punishing feedback of being told Wrong. From the results of this experiment Thorndike concluded
that punishment does not diminish response as originally stated in the law of effect. In his own
words,
Indeed the announcement of Wrong in our experiments does not weaken the connection at all, so
far as we can see. Rather there is more gain in strength from the occurrence of the response than
there is weakening by the attachment of Wrong to it. Whereas two occurrences of a right response
followed by Right strengthen the connection much more than one does, two occurrences of a
wrong response followed by Wrong weaken that connection less than one does. (p. 45)
In another experiment a series of words were read by the experimenter. The subject responded to
each by stating a number between 1 and 10. If the subject picked the number the experimenter had
predetermined to be right he was rewarded (the experimenter said Right), otherwise he was
punished (the experimenter said Wrong). Other than the feedback received from the experimenter,
the subject had no logical basis for selecting one number over another when choosing a response.
Each series was repeated many times, however, the sequence of words was long, making it difficult
for the subject to consciously remember any specific right and wrong word-number pairs. From the
results of this and other similar experiments Thorndike demonstrated what he called the spread of
effect. What he meant by this was that punished connections do not behave alike, but that the ones
that are nearest to a reward are strengthened and that the strengthening influence of a reward
spreads to influence positively not only the connection which it directly followsbut also any
connections which are near enough to it (Thorndike, 1933, p. 174). More specifically,
A satisfying after-effect strengthens greatly the connection which it follows directly and to which it
belongs, and also strengthens by a smaller amount the connections preceding and following that,
and by a still smaller amount the preceding and succeeding connections two steps removed. (p. 174)
In addition to these two major changes to the law of exercise and the law of effect, Thorndike also
began to explore four other factors of learning that might be viewed as precursors to cognitive
learning research, which emerged in the decades that followed. They are summarized by Bower and
Hilgard (1981):
1. Belongingness a connection between two units or ideas is more readily established if the
subject perceives the two as belonging or going together (p. 35).
2. Associative Polarity connections act more easily in the direction in which they were formed
than in the opposite direction (p. 35). For example, if when learning German vocabulary a
person always tests themselves in the German-to-English direction it is more difficult for
them to give the German equivalent when prompted with an English word than to give the
English word when prompted with the German equivalent.
3. Stimulus Identifiability a situation is easy to connect to a response to the extent that the
situation is identifiable, distinctive, and distinguishable from others in a learning series (p.
36).
4. Response Availability the ease of forming connections is directly proportional to the ease
with which the response required by the situation is summoned or executed:
Some responses are over learned as familiar acts (e.g., touching our nose, tapping our toes) which
are readily executed upon command, whereas more finely skilled movements (e.g., drawing a line 4
inches as opposed to 5 inches long while blindfolded) may not be so readily summonable. (p.36-37)