A Little History - Algoma University

A Little History - Algoma University

A Little History Psychology 3306 Dead White guys are not all bad As is the case with all science, the first investigations into learning were done by philosophers Aristotle Contiguity

(both spatial and temporal) Similarity contrast Empiricism Then the Romans ruled the known world Then the barbarians came Yadda yadda yadda

Then along cam the British Empiricists Believed that knowledge was all based on experience Hobbes and Lock are probably the best examples Lockes blank paper or tabula rasa The Nativists were their rivals

Them being the Empiricists Kant and Descartes Descartes thought of the mind and the body as separate things Kant believed that we were born with natural concepts like space and

time Rules of Association The empiricists came out with a set of rules about how different things were associated Sesnations and ideas Simple sensations -> simple ideas Simple ideas come to be associated through contiguity into concepts

More rules Concepts of two simple ideas are called complex ideas Two complex ideas become duplex ideas Whatever. But seriously, some of these rules are not that far off from those that we think of in modern learning theory and indeed concept formation

Thomas Browns Secondary Principles of Association Length of time liveliness Frequency of pairings Recency of pairings Freedom from other pairings Constitutional differences

Brown and his principles Emotional state Health Prior habits Frankly, this is amazing. This list is darned close to the kind of things we talk about today

Ebbinghaus Well, these were all great ideas, but had not been tested. Cue Hermann Ebbinghaus Strangely, both the behaviourists and the cognitive types claim

him as their own Nonsense syllables Ebbinghaus Studied himself Found savings Repetition was key Classic fogetting curve Contiguity Reversal was detrimental, so it was not

just contiguity but also contingency Modern ideas Eventually the ball was picked up by Skinner, Thorndike, Watson et al We owe a great deal of our modern ideas about learning to the ideas of the British associationists and later, Ebbinghaus.

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