Trial and Error is a method of learning in which various response are tentatively tried and some discarded until a solution is attained.
E.L.Thorndike(1874-1949) was the chief exponent of th theory of connectionism or trial and error. He was an American Psychologist who conducted Stimulus - Response(S-R) theory experiment with the help of animals. Thorndike was the first to study the subject of learning systematically using standardized procedure and apparatus. All learning, according to Thorndike is the formation of bonds or connections between Stimulus- Response.
The Puzzle Box Experiment
Thorndike's Experiment on cat in the puzzle is widely known and often quoted in psychology of learning. The experimental set up was very simple. A hungry cat was confined in a puzzle box and outside the box a dish of food was kept. The cat, in the box had to pull a string to come out of the box. The cat in the box made several random movement of jumping, dashing and running to get out of the box. The cat atlast succeeded in pulling the string. The door of the puzzle box opened, the cat came out and ate the food. He promtly put the cat to next trial. The cat again gave a lot of frantic behaviour but it soon succeeded in pulling the string. It repeated for several time, Thorndike noticed as the repetition increases the error also reduced i.e., Thorndike's cat showed slow, gradual and continous improvement in performance over successive trials. He concluded that learning of cat in the puzzle box can be explained in term of formation of direct connectionism between stimulus and response.
Features of Trial and Error Learning
1. Learning by trial and error is gradual process.
2. For learning to occur, the learner must be definitely motivated. 3. The learner makes random and variable response.
4. Some responses do lead to the goal (annoying response)...