Connectionism Theory


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The learning theory of Thorndike, suggests that learning is the result of associations forming between stimuli and responses. These connections, become strengthened or weakened by the nature and frequency, and that certain responses may also come to dominate others due to rewards.Thorndike’s Connectionism was meant to be a general theory of learning for animals and humans.

Edward Lee Thorndike (1874 - 1949)
Was an American pioneer in comparative psychology. He was awarded for his thesis, "Animal Intelligence: An Experimental Study of the Associative Processes in Animals", in which he concluded that an experimental approach is the only way to understand learning and established his famous "Law of Effect". In 1912, he was the elected president of the American Psychological Association. Thorndike’s work frequently has not received the attention it deserves because so many aspects of his thinking became associated with B.F.Skinner.

1. Law of Effect – states that a response which occurs just prior to a satisfying state of affairs is more likely to be repeated. For example, students would want to study more if they know that their teacher will give them a reward when they get high scores/grades.
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And responses just prior to an annoying state of affairs are more likely Not to be repeated. For example, students will not be noisy because they know that their teacher will scold them if they do so.

2. Law of Exercise – connections become strengthened with practice, and weaken when practice is discontinued. For example, the student has newly learned how to write letter A. To be able to master writing it, the teacher practices her students by giving them appropriate activities. And if they stop practicing it, the connection will be weakened.
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3. Law of Readiness – This law states that the more "ready" an individual to respond to a stimulus, the stronger will be the bond between them. And, if an individual is ready to respond but is not made to respond, it becomes frustrating and annoying to that person. For example, when a student has reviewed for his exams this means that the student is ready to take the exam. And if he is not ready to take the exam it will be frustrating to him.