Edward Thorndike’s Psychology in Advertising

Edward Thorndike (1874 – 1949). In 1898, he formed the source for his learning theories. To Thorndike, the most basic form of learning was trial-and-error learning. He made an experiment with a cat by putting it in a puzzle box. The animal would attempt to escape to get at the food outside the box. Pressing on the pedal would enable the animal to escape. The animal had to perform in a certain way before it was allowed to leave the box.  This experiment helped Edward Thorndike to conclude that learning comes step by step, in very small systematic steps rather than in huge jumps. Because, the more opportunities cat had, the faster it solved the problem. (Saul McLeod, 2007)edward thorndike puzzle box As a result, Thorndike’s theory of learning says: basic learning is trial and error learning; learning is incremental; we learn by doing, we forget by not doing etc. (Scribd, no data) Thorndike developed the idea of connectionism. He believed that connections formed between a stimulus and a response are the essence of intellectual development. (Instructional Design, no data)

Furthermore, operant learning was encouraged by Thorndike’s ‘’Law of Effect’’. The operant learning was inspired by Burrhus Frederic Skinner.  He made his reputation by testing classical conditioning theories. He rejected the thought that organisms cannot control themselves whenever to act or not to act. The operant conditioning theory says that we chose how to behave in a different ways, because not of a particular emotions or feelings. But the main stimulus is bringing different consequences. (Saul McLeod, 2007) For example, Guinness commercial ‘’Round up your mates’’.

In this commercial, they used operant conditioning principles. For running humans, beer is a reward. Dogs, which may bite them is a punishment. For good behaviour, they get a pint of beer. A behaviour reinforced by a pleasant consequence increases the probability of that behaviour occurring in the future. In addition, it is an example of positive reinforcement. (Sunny Cooper, 2009) ”Psychology is the science of the intellects, characters and behavior of animals including man.” – Edward Thorndike

All in all, John B. Watson made a start of behaviorism that will soon become one of the main kinds of psychology. While behaviorism began to lose its hold after 1950, many of the concepts and principles are still widely used today. Conditioning and behavior modification are still widely used in therapy and behavioral training to help clients change problematic behaviors and develop new skills. (Introduction to Psychology, 2012)

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