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Ivan Petrovich Pavlov Biography

Scientist, Physiologist (18491936)

Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov developed his concept of the conditioned reflex through a
famous study with dogs and won a Nobel Prize Award in 1904.
Born on September 14, 1849, in Ryazan, Russia, Ivan Pavlov abandoned his early theological
schooling to study science. As the Department of Physiology head at the Institute of
Experimental Medicine, his groundbreaking work on the digestive systems of dogs earned him
the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1904. Pavlov remained an active researcher until
his death on February 27, 1936.
Early Life and Education
Ivan Petrovich Pavlov was born on September 14, 1849, in Ryazan, Russia. The son of a priest,
he attended a church school and theological seminary. However, he was inspired by the ideas
of Charles Darwin and I.M. Sechenov, the father of Russian physiology, and gave up his
theological studies in favor of scientific pursuit.
Pavlov studied chemistry and physiology at the University of St. Petersburg and received the
degree of Candidate of Natural Sciences in 1875. He then enrolled at the Imperial Medical
Academy in St. Petersburg, completing his graduate dissertation on the centrifugal nerves of the
heart in 1883.

Groundbreaking Physiological Discovery

After graduation, Pavlov studied under cardiovascular physiologist Carl Ludwig in Leipzig,
Germany, and gastrointestinal physiologist Rudolf Heidenhain in Breslau, Poland. With
Heidenhain, he devised an operation in which he created an exteriorized "pouch" on a dog's
stomach and maintained nerve supply to properly study gastrointestinal secretions. He then
spent two years at a laboratory in St. Petersburg, where he researched cardiac physiology and
the regulation of blood pressure.
In 1890, Pavlov took charge of the Department of Physiology at the newly created Institute of
Experimental Medicine. He was also named Professor of Pharmacology at the Imperial Medical
Academy, and five years later was appointed to its vacant Chair of Physiology. During this
period, Pavlov focused on the secretory activity of digestion in dogs, implanting fistulas in their
salivary ducts to record the uninterrupted effects of the nervous system on the digestive
Pavlov's observations led him to formulate his concept of the conditioned reflex. In his most
famous experiment, he sounded a tone just before presenting dogs with food, conditioning them
to begin salivating every time he sounded the tone. Pavlov published his results in 1903, and
delivered a presentation on "The Experimental Psychology and Psychopathology of Animals" at
the 14th International Medical Congress in Madrid, Spain, later that year.
Awards and Achievements
For his groundbreaking work, Pavlov was named the 1904 Nobel Prize winner for Physiology or
Medicine. More honors followed over the years. He was elected Academician of the Russian
Academy of Sciences in 1907, and in 1912 he was given an honorary doctorate at Cambridge
University. Following a recommendation by the Medical Academy of Paris, he was awarded the
Order of the Legion of Honour in 1915.

Herman Ebbinghaus was a known German psychologist. He was the pioneer in the
experimental study of memory as well as discovering spacing effect and the forgetting curve.
Born on January 24th, 1850, in Barmen, Germany he was the son of a rich merchant. He
acquired his early education from town gymnasium ant then attended University of Bon in 1867
at the age of 17. He studied philology and history as his main subjects at this university at which
time he became interested in studying philosophy. He wasnt able continue pursuing philosophy
as a proper degree because Franco-Prussian war broke out. He served in the Prussian army
during this war. After serving for a brief time span in the army, he completed his thesis on
Philosophy of The Unconscious. He acquired his doctorate at the age of 23 on August 16th,
1873. After the completion of his PhD he started tutoring students in England and France to
earn his living.
Herman Ebbinghaus made a profound impact on study of memory and intelligence testing. He
used the experimentation to study higher mental processes. He also studied learning curve and
analyzed that maintenance rehearsal and acoustic encoding should be applied for effective
learning though he faced certain limitations in the process of conducting his ground-breaking
research on memory. The major limitation was that he was the only subject in the study.
Naturally, this was an obstacle in studying the trends of the whole population. Also, this was a
major shortcoming in proving the external validity of the study, despite, the fact that it was
internally valid. Ebbinghaus tried to restrict his personal significance to keep the experiment free
from biases but failed to do so. This also proved that it is a tough job to be the researcher as
well as the subject at the same time. It is next to impossible in experimentation to maintain
neutrality in this situation. The studies on the learning curve conducted by Ebbinghaus proved
that the learning pattern of individuals showed a sharp decline after their first attempt. An

individuals capacity to retain information begins to slow down after the first trial. The learning
curve shows an exponential increase similar to the forgetting curve. Ebbinghaus also gave the
concept of serial position effect which consists of recency and primacy as its major ideas. The
recency effect described the recalling of the latest information stored in the short term memory,
whereas, the primacy effect is related to information retrieval from long term memory
Ebbinghaus was also the pioneer of sentence completion exercises. It was developed by to
gauge the mental abilities of schoolchildren in sentence structuring. He also discovered optical
illusion which occurs due to the relative size perception. This concept is used in conducting
studies on cognitive psychology. Ebbinghaus was an accomplished psychologist who laid firm
foundations for intelligence testing through his ground breaking researches on memory. He died
on February 26th, 1909.

Edward Thorndike
Birth and Death:

Edward Lee Thorndike was born August 31, 1874 in Williamsburg, Massachusetts.

He died on August 9, 1949.

Thorndike's Early Life:
Edward Thorndike was the son of a Methodist minister and grew up in Massachusetts. While he
was a very successful student, he initially disliked his first psychology course.
His interest in psychology grew after reading the classic book The Principles of
Psychology by William James.
When he graduated from Wesleyan University in 1895 with a bachelor of science degree,
Thorndike then enrolled at Harvard University to study English and French literature. During his
first semester, however, he took a psychology course taught by William James and by his
second trimester he had decided to switch his study concentration over to psychology. He later
moved on to Columbia University where he studied under the guidance of psychologist James
McKeen Cattell.
After earning his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1898, Thorndike briefly took a position as an Assistant
Professor of Pedagogy at Case Western Reserve University. In the year 1900, Thorndike
married Elizabeth Moulton. He then took a job as a psychology professor at the Teachers
College at Columbia University, where he would continue to teach for the rest of his career.

Thorndikes Work and Theories:

Thorndike is perhaps best-known for the theory he called the law of effect, which emerged from
his research on how cats learn to escape from puzzle boxes.
According to the law of effect, responses that are immediately followed by a satisfactory
outcome become more strongly associated with the situation and are therefore more likely to
occur again in the future. Conversely, responses followed by negative outcomes become more
weakly associated and less likely to reoccur in the future.

American psychologist B.F. Skinner is best known for

developing the theory of behaviorism, and for his utopian novel Walden Two (1948).
Born in Pennsylvania in 1904, psychologist B.F. Skinner began working on ideas of human
behavior after earning his doctorate from Harvard. Skinner's works include The Behavior of
Organisms (1938) and a novel based on his theories Walden Two (1948). He explored
behaviorism in relation to society in later books, including Beyond Freedom and Human
Dignity (1971). Skinner died in Massachusetts in 1990.
Early Life
Burrhus Frederic Skinner was born on March 20, 1904, in the small town of Susquehanna,
Pennsylvania, where he also grew up. His father was a lawyer and his mother stayed home to
care for Skinner and his younger brother. At an early age, Skinner showed an interest in building
different gadgets and contraptions.
As a student at Hamilton College, B.F. Skinner developed a passion for writing. He tried to
become a professional writer after graduating in 1926, but with little success. Two years later,
Skinner decided to pursue a new direction for his life. He enrolled at Harvard University to study
The Skinner Box
At Harvard, B.F. Skinner looked for a more objective and measured way to study behavior. He
developed what he called an operant conditioning apparatus to do this, which became better
known as the Skinner box. With this device, Skinner could study an animal interacting with its
environment. He first studied rats in his experiments, seeing how the rodents discovered and
used to a level in the box, which dispensed food at varying intervals.Later, Skinner examined
what behavior patterns developed in pigeons using the box. The pigeons pecked at a disc to
gain access to food. From these studies, Skinner came to the conclusion that some form of
reinforcement was crucial in learning new behaviors.

After finishing his doctorate degree and working as a researcher at Harvard, Skinner published
the results of his operant conditioning experiments in The Behavior of Organisms (1938). His
work drew comparisons to Ivan Pavlov, but Skinner's work involved learned responses to an
environment rather than involuntary responses to stimuli.
Later Work
While teaching at University of Minnesota, Skinner tried to train pigeons to serve as guides for
bombing runs during World War II. This project was cancelled, but he was able to teach them
how to play ping pong. Skinner turned to a more domestic endeavor during the war. In 1943, he
built a new type of crib for his second daughter Deborah at his wife's request. The couple
already had a daughter named Julie. This clear box, called the "baby tender," was heated so
that the baby didn't need blankets. There were no slats in the sides either, which also prevented
possible injury.
In 1945, Skinner became the chair of the psychology department at Indiana University. But he
left two years later to return to Harvard as a lecturer. Skinner received a professorship there in
1948 where he remained for the rest of his career. As his children grew, he became interested in
education. Skinner developed a teaching machine to study learning in children. He later
wrote The Technology of Teaching (1968).
Skinner presented a fictional interpretation of some of his views in the 1948 novel Walden Two,
which proposed a type of utopian society. The people in the society were led to be good citizens
through behavior modificationa system of rewards and punishments. The novel seemed to
undermine Skinner's credibility with some of his academic colleagues. Others questioned his
focus on scientific approaches to the exclusion of less tangible aspects of human existence.
In the late 1960s and early '70s, Skinner wrote several works applying his behavioral theories to
society, including Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971). He drew fire for seemingly implying that
humans had no free will or individual consciousness. Noam Chomsky was among Skinner's
critics. In 1974, Skinner tried to set the record straight regarding any misinterpretations of his
work with About Behaviorism.
Final Years
In his later years, B.F. Skinner took to chronicling his life and research in a series of
autobiographies. He also continued to be active in the field of behavioral psychologyfield he
helped popularize. In 1989, Skinner was diagnosed with leukemia. He succumbed to the
disease the following year, dying at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on August 18,
While many of his behavioral theories have fallen out of favor, Skinner's identification of the
importance of reinforcement remains a critical discovery. He believed that positive reinforcement
was a great tool for shaping behavior, an idea still valued in numerous settings including schools

today. Skinner's beliefs are still being promoted by the B.F. Skinner Foundation, which is headed
by his daughter, Julie S. Vargas.

Psychologist John B. Watson is remembered for codifying and

publicizing behaviorism with his article Psychology as a Behaviorist Views It and other research.
Behavior (1914) he argued for the use of animal John B. Watson was born Jan. 9, 1878, in
Travelers Rest, South Carolina. He is remembered for codifying and publicizing behaviorism. In
his epoch-making article, Psychology as a Behaviorist Views It (1913), he asserted that
psychology should restrict itself to the objective, experimental study of the relations between
environmental events and human behavior.

Edward Tolman
Best Known for

Cognitive behaviorism

Research on cognitive maps

Theory of latent learning

The concept of an intervening variable

Birth and Death
Born: April 14, 1886
Died: November 19, 1959
Early Life
Tolman originally started his academic life studying physics, mathematics, and chemistry at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). After reading William James' Principles of
Psychology, he decided to shift his focus to the study of psychology.
He enrolled at Harvard where he worked in Hugo Munsterberg's lab. In addition to being
influenced by James, he also later said that his work was heavily influenced by Kurt Koffka and
and Kurt Lewin. He graduated with a Ph.D. in 1915.

Career and Contributions to Psychology

Tolman is perhaps best-known for his work with rats and mazes. Tolman's work challenged the
behaviorist notion that all behavior and learning is a result of the basic stimulus-response
In a classic experiment, rats practiced a maze for several days. Then, the familiar path they
normally took was blocked. According to the behaviorist view, the rats had simply formed
associations about which behaviors were reinforced and which were not. Instead, Tolman
discovered that the rats had formed a mental map of the maze, allowing them to choose a novel
path to lead them to the reward.
His theory of latent learning suggests that learning occurs even if no reinforcement is
offered.Latent learning is not necessarily apparent at the time, but that appears later in
situations where it is needed.
Tolman's concepts of latent learning and cognitive maps helped pave the way for the rise
of cognitive psychology.
Awards and Distinctions

In 1937, he Tolman was named President of the American Psychological Association.

In 1940, he became the chairman of the Lewin's Society for the Psychological Study of
Social issues.

In 1949, he was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In 1957, he received a special award from the APA for his contributions to science.

Wolfgang Khler
Wolfgang Khler was a psychologist who examined learning and perception as structured wholes,
which led to Gestalt psychology.
Wolfgang Khlers studies of problem solving, in which he examined learning and perception as
structured wholes, led to a radical revision of existing theory, and Khler became a key figure in
Gestalt psychology. He continued his research during the 1920s and early '30s,
publishing Gestalt Psychology, but emigrated from Germany to the U.S. after the Nazi takeover,
and he continued to write.