Thorndike and tolman

Can someone explain the thorndike study and the tolman study

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Thorndike’s results paved the way for Operant Conditioning and Behaviorism, and are now known as the first study to demonstrate the “law of effect.” The law of effects states, very basically, that an action may have an effect or consequence, which can be learned!

The Thorndike study was to show the Law of Effect, which was to show that if there is a reward/reinforcement after an action, then a given action will increase, while if there is a punishment/unfavorable response after, then it will decrease, which is a part of operant conditioning. The Tolman study was to show latent learning, which is when the learning occurs subconsciously and was used with rats in mazes, where the rats just wandered around the maze at first, but when reinforcement was offered, they quickly went to the end.

Thorndike showed that you can teach an animal or person something by rewarding behaviors that get closer and closer (successive approximations) to the desired behavior. For example, if I am training a pigeon to turn in a circle each time they take a step to the side I might reward them with a treat. Eventually they will start to make more and more of a turn and I will continue to reward the behavior until it is a complete circle.

Tolman studied rats in mazes and the idea of latent learning. We don’t always show or know the knowledge that we have until a need presents itself. This also has to do with cognitive mapping.

Tolman has some importance in demonstrating that although Operant Conditioning is crazy useful (behavior matters), humans (and perhaps some other animals) can learn without needing to be trained. They can make mental maps and schemas. I think he said something along the lines of “the reward you give just gives the (rat) a reason to show you the learning” (in so many words) to Skinner.

Thank you guys all so much!

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