Thorndike's Law Of Effect

Thorndike's Law of Effect is a theory in behaviorism that explains how organisms learn and develop behaviors. Edward Thorndike (1874-1949) was a behaviorist whose theories on learning were crucial in the development of operant conditioning.

Thorndike was best known for his use of puzzle boxes in his experiments with cats. He would put a cat in a puzzle box and a piece of fish outside. The cat needed to use a lever to open the box to get to the fish. He noticed that once the cats discovered that the lever worked in their mission to get to the fish they would continue using the lever and increase in their speed of finding and using it.

This is what lead Thorndike to develop his Law of Effect theory. It essentially states that behaviors that elicit favorable results (like a cat getting fish) are more likely to be repeated in the future because the consequence was pleasant. In conjunction, behaviors that elicit unpleasant or unfavorable results are more likely to stop and not be repeated in the future.

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