Associationistic Theory of Learning
Instructor : Megan Mclaughlin
In life we are prone to experiencing different experiences; some through emotions, love and other inferences. We associate different experiences and try to form a plethora of comforts; a sense in which we can revisit to help us to assess new experiences throughout our lives. In other words, we learn from our mistakes, trials and tribulations. From a personal standpoint, I can honestly say that the association is probably the easiest way to make a decision when a new situation approaches. Realistically, association is not always the best answer however as humans, it is natural. In our readings, I find that the Associationistic Theory is the most interesting and appealing to me. The Associationistic Theory in Philosophy refers to the idea that mental processes operate by the association of one state with its successor states. (Warren 1921) The theory was developed by Plato and Aristotle, and further developed by pioneers like John Locke, David Hume, and James Mill. In the evolution of development, Locke, Hume, Mill developed elaborate principles and its relation to neurophysiology. Their contributions have led to Psychologists tactics in describing and assessing behavior when conducting sessions. The easiest way for one to relate to a theory is applying it and associating it through one’s own experience identifying with the elements that consist of that theory. Through my experience and much research I have come to see the Associationistic theory is very much present in my life. It is exciting to see the world through your eyes and being able to make sense of our experiences and such in that regard; Well I identify with the Associationistic Theory and all of its elements are the story of my life. When looking at the Associationaistic Theory, one may find elements that they can easily identify with. One of the most known principles of associative learning is Operant Conditioning. Operant conditioning utilizes the use of consequences to modify the unwanted behavior. The easiest way to relate to this is when your parents punished you for not cleaning your room or performing well academically. The punishment usually will cause a physical or emotional consequence forcing you not to commit the infraction again. Naturally we associate the severity of the punishment to assist with the prevention of committing the infraction again. From a personal standpoint, whippings were never my forte however; I was not a stranger to them. I was able to associate the pain that was caused and distinguish right from wrong. It also instilled values that I am able to pass on to my son today. Another element of the Associatinistic Theory is Classical Conditioning. Classical Conditioning involves repeatedly paring an unconditioned with another previous neutral stimulus (Boyd 2006). One can associate Classical Conditioning with a special family event that took place. I knew when my mother was making her native dish; black pudding, which it was in preparation for Christmas. One would see the pig’s blood, rice and sausage runner’s; the ingredients which was used to make the dish. We immediately associated it with Christmas because it was the only time of year that my mother made that dish. When explaining associative learning, both of these principles are to be identified. The elements of these principles exemplify how we use association to learn and function. Whether through pain and /or observation we naturally associate an outcome for our actions. In life, associative learning can be detrimental as well as helpful. We tend to use associative learning when engaging in new interpersonal relationships. This could be harmful in that we may have reacted inappropriately to a previous experience; now seeing the same patterns of behavior, one may associate that incorrect reaction as a plausible one. I learned that seeing...
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