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B.Ed - 15102
Learning – How Thinkers View it
Characteristics of Learning
Principles of Learning
Levels of Learning
Domains of Learning
Theories of Learning – An Introduction
Classification of Theories of Learning
Different Perspectives of Learning
5.11 Check your Progress
5.10 Let us Sum up
Lesson Structure
5.12 Suggested Readings
Dear students, let us talk about learning. But not the lifeless, sterile, futile,
quickly forgotten stuff that is crammed in to the mind of the poor helpless individual
tied into his seat by ironclad bonds of conformity. I am talking about learning - the
insatiable curiosity that drives the adolescent boy to absorb everything he can see or
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hear or read. I am talking about the student who says, “I am discovering, drawing in
from the outside, and making that which is drawn in a real part of me.” I am talking
about any learning in which the experience of the learner progresses along this line:
“No, no, that's not what I want”; “Wait! This is closer to what I am interested in, what I
need”; “Ah, here it is! Now I’m grasping and comprehending what I need and what I
want to know!” (Carl Rogers). Dear students it is worth to mention here that learning
occupies an important place in the school programme. In fact schools are step up for
making children to learn. All the efforts of the teachers and parents are devoted to the
learning of the children. Learning is an enrichment of experience. In learning there is an
interaction of the environment with the organism. Without learning all efforts of
children as well of teachers have no meaning.
After reading this lesson, you should be able to:
Discuss Learning as a Process and as a Product;
State the meaning and significance of Theories of Learning; and
State the broad groups of Learning Theories.
Discuss the nature and meaning of learning;
Learning – Concept and Definitions
Learning is a phenomenon which is not only restricted to classrooms but it
constantly takes place in our lives. Also, learning is not always conscious or deliberate,
for example, a student might be pronouncing a word wrongly being completely
unaware of it until it is pointed out by the teacher. Learning always brings the change
in the behaviour of a person who is learning. Therefore, Learning is generally defined
as relatively permanent changes in behavior, skills, knowledge, or attitudes resulting
from psychological or social experiences. A key feature about learning is permanence:
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changes do not count as learning if they are temporary. You do not “learn” a phone
number if you forget it the minute after you dial the number. The change has to last. It
is also to be noticed that learning can be physical, social, or emotional as well as
cognitive. You do not “learn” to sneeze simply by catching cold, but you do learn many
skills and behaviors that are physically based, such as riding a bicycle or throwing a
ball. You can also learn to like (or dislike) a person, even though this change may not
happen deliberately. Therefore, the two important factors necessary for learning are –
change and experience.
Learning involves the active construction of meaning by learners, which is
context dependent, socially mediated and situated in the ‘real-world’ of the learner.
Famous educationalists like Piaget, Vygotsky, Dewey, and Montessori regard learning
as the active construction of knowledge and skills by learners. Small group work,
discussion, debate, practical problem solving, the presentation of alternative
perspectives, sharing of information, reflective practice, cognitive apprenticeships,
modelling, mentoring and coaching are all strategies that resonate with a constructivist
orientation to learning
For teachers, learning usually refers to things that happen in schools or
classrooms, even though every teacher can describe examples of learning that happen
outside school for example in the playground or at home. Generally, teachers’
perspectives on learning often emphasize three ideas, and sometimes even take them
for granted: (1) curriculum content and academic achievement, (2) sequencing and
readiness, and (3) the importance of transferring learning to new or future situations.
Another important point to remember is that learning takes place because of the
constant interaction of an individual with the environment. Thus, learning can be
defined as a function of the interaction of personal and environmental factors, which
can be represented as follows:
L = f (EF x PF)
Where L
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environmental factors;
personal factors.
Personal factors includes motivation, interests, abilities etc. which are the
characteristics of an individual and environmental factors are contextual factors which
highlight the role of the environment in learning, such as the socio-emotional, societal
and cultural factors present both in the family as well as in classrooms. It is clear now
that the learner and the learning process can only be completely understood with
reference to the interaction of both environmental and personal factors. We will discuss
how these factors affect learning in detail in the later part of the unit.
To define learning, it is necessary to analyze what happens to the individual.
For example, an individual's way of perceiving, thinking, feeling, and doing may
change as a result of a learning experience. Thus, learning can be defined as a change in
behavior as a result of experience. This can be physical and overt, or it may involve
complex intellectual or attitudinal changes which affect behavior in more subtle ways.
In spite of numerous theories and contrasting views, psychologists generally agree on
many common characteristics of learning. Several attempts have been made to define
learning. Some of the important definitions are given here to have a comprehensive
view of leaning:
 Woodworth R.S. (1945), “Any, activity can be called so far as it develops the
individual (In any respect, good or bad) and
makes his behaviour and
experiences different from what that would otherwise have been.”
 Kingsley, H.L. and Garry, R (1946,) “Learning is the process by which
behaviour (in the broader sense) is originated or changed through practice and
training ".
 Gates and Others (1946), “Learning is the modification in behaviour to meet
environmental requirements.”
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 F.S Freeman (1958), Learning is the process of developing the ability to
respond adequately to a situation which may or may not have been properly
 B.L. Hilgard (1958), "Learning is the process by which an activity originates or
is changed,
through reacting to an encountered situation, provided that the
characteristics of the change in activity cannot be explained on the basis of
native responses, tendencies, maturation or temporary states of the organism (
e.g., fatigue or drugs etc.)”
 Crow and Crow (1973), “Learning is the acquisition of habits, knowledge and
attitudes. It involves new ways of doing thing and it operates in an individual’s
attempts to overcome obstacles or to readjust to new situations. It represents
progressive change in behavior. It enables him to satisfy interests and goals.
Characteristics of Learning
To be effective, the learning situation also should be purposeful, based on
experience, multifaceted, and involve an active process. Some of the characteristics of
learning are as under:
1. Learning is Purposeful: Each student sees a
viewpoint. Each student is a unique
individual whose past experiences affect
readiness to learn and understanding of
the requirements involved. For example, an
instructor may give two aviation maintenance students
the assignment of learning certain inspection procedures. One student may
learn quickly and be able to competently present the assigned material. The
combination of an aviation background and future goals may enable that
student to realize the need and value of learning the procedures. A second
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student's goal may only be to comply with the instructor's assignment, and
may result in only minimum preparation. The responses differ because each
student adds in accordance with what he or she sees in the situation. Most
people have fairly definite ideas about what they want to do and achieve.
Their goals sometimes are short term, involving a matter of days or weeks. On
the other hand, their goals may be carefully planned for a career or a lifetime.
Each student has specific intentions and goals. Some may be shared by other
students. Students learn from any activity that tends to further their goals.
Their individual needs and attitudes may determine what they learn as much
as what the instructor is trying to get them to learn. In the process of learning,
the student's goals are of paramount significance. To be effective, aviation
instructors need to find ways to relate new learning to the student's goals.
2. Learning is a Result of Experience: Since learning is an individual process,
the instructor cannot do it for the student. The student can learn only from
personal experiences; therefore, learning and knowledge cannot exist apart
from a person. A person's knowledge is a result of experience, and no two
people have had identical experiences. Even when observing the same event,
two people react differently; they learn different things from it, according to
the manner in which the situation affects their individual needs. Previous
experience conditions a person to respond to some things and to ignore others.
All learning is by experience, but learning takes place in different forms and in
varying degrees of richness and depth. For instance, some experiences involve
the whole person while others may be based only on hearing and memory.
3. Learning is Multifaceted: Psychologists sometimes classify learning by
types, such as verbal, conceptual, perceptual, motor, problem solving and
emotional. Other classifications refer to intellectual skills, cognitive strategies,
and attitudinal changes, along with descriptive terms like surface or deep
learning. However useful these divisions may be, they are somewhat artificial.
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For example, a class learning to apply the scientific method of problem
solving may learn the method by trying to solve real problems. But in doing
so, the class also engages in verbal learning and sensory perception at the
same time. Each student approaches the task with preconceived ideas and
feelings, and for many students, these ideas change as a result of experience.
Therefore, the learning process may include verbal elements, conceptual
elements, perceptual elements, emotional elements, and problem solving
elements all taking place at once. Learning is multifaceted in still another way.
While learning the subject at hand, students may be learning other things as
well. They may be developing attitudes about aviation-good or bad-depending
on what they experience. Under a skillful instructor, they may learn selfreliance. The list is seemingly endless. This type of learning is sometimes
referred to as incidental, but it may have a great impact on the total
development of the student.
4. Learning is an Active Process: Students do not soak up knowledge like a
sponge absorbs water. A teacher cannot assume that students remember
something just because they were in the classroom, shop, or airplane when the
instructor presented the material. Neither can the teacher assume that the
students can apply what they know because they can quote the correct answer
verbatim. For students to learn, they need to react and respond, perhaps
outwardly, perhaps only inwardly, emotionally, or intellectually. But if
learning is a process of changing behavior, clearly that process must be an
active one.
Principles of Learning
Over the years, educational psychologists have identified several principles
which seem generally applicable to the learning process. They provide additional
insight into what makes people learn most effectively.
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1. Readiness: Individuals learn best when they are ready to learn, and they do not
learn well if they see no reason for learning. Getting students ready to learn is
usually the teacher’s responsibility. If students have a strong purpose, a clear
objective, and a definite reason for learning something, they make more
progress than if they lack motivation. Readiness implies a degree of singlemindedness and eagerness. When students are ready to learn, they meet the
instructor at least halfway, and this simplifies the instructor's job. Under certain
circumstances, the instructor can do little, if anything, to inspire in students a
readiness to learn. If outside responsibilities, interests, or worries weigh too
heavily on their minds, if their schedules are overcrowded, or if their personal
problems seem insoluble, students may have little interest in learning.
2. Exercise: The principle of exercise states that those things most often repeated
are best remembered. It is the basis of drill and practice. The human memory is
fallible. The mind can rarely retain, evaluate, and apply new concepts or
practices after a single exposure. Students do not learn to weld during one shop
period or to perform crosswise landings during one instructional flight. They
learn by applying what they have been told and shown. Every time practice
occurs, learning continues. The instructor must provide opportunities for
toward a goal.
students to practice and, at the same time; make sure that this process is directed
3. Effect: The principle of effect is based on the emotional reaction of the student.
It states that learning is strengthened when accompanied by a pleasant or
satisfying feeling, and that learning is weakened when associated with an
unpleasant feeling. Experiences that produce feelings of defeat, frustration,
anger, confusion, or futility are unpleasant for the student. If, for example, an
instructor attempts to teach landings during the first flight, the student is likely
to feel inferior and be frustrated. Teachers should be cautious. Impressing
students with the difficulty of an aircraft maintenance problem, flight maneuver
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or flight crew duty can make the teaching task difficult. Usually it is better to
tell students that a problem or maneuver, although difficult, is within their
capability to understand or perform. Whatever the learning situation, it should
contain elements that affect the students positively and give them a feeling of
4. Primacy: Primacy, the state of being first, often creates a strong, almost
unshakable, impression. For a teacher, this means that what is taught must be
right the first time. For the student, it means that learning must be right. Unteaching is more difficult than teaching. If, for example, a maintenance student
learns a faulty riveting technique, the instructor will have a difficult task of
correcting bad habits and re-teaching correct ones. Every student should be
started right. The first experience should be positive, functional and lay the
foundation for all that is to follow.
5. Intensity: A vivid, dramatic, or exciting learning experience teaches more than
a routine or boring experience. A student is likely to gain greater understanding
of slow flight and stalls by performing them rather than merely reading about
them. The principle of intensity implies that a student will learn more from the
real thing than from a substitute. In contrast to flight instruction and shop
instruction, the classroom imposes limitations on the amount of realism that can
be brought into teaching. The aviation instructor should use imagination in
approaching reality as closely as possible. Today, classroom instruction can
benefit from a wide variety of instructional aids to improve realism, motivate
learning, and challenge students.
6. Recency: The principle of recency states that things most recently learned are
best remembered. Conversely, the further a student is removed time-wise from a
new fact or understanding, the more difficult it is to remember. It is easy, for
example, for a student to recall a torque value used a few minutes earlier, but it
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is usually impossible to remember an unfamiliar one used a week earlier.
Instructors recognize the principle of recency when they carefully plan a
summary for a ground school lesson, a shop period, or a post flight critique. The
instructor repeats, restates, or reemphasizes important points at the end of a
lesson to help the student remember them. The principle of recency often
determines the sequence of lectures within a course of instruction.
Levels of Learning
Levels of learning may be classified in any number of ways. Four basic levels
have traditionally been included almost in every classroom setting. The lowest level
is the ability to repeat something which one has been taught, without understanding or
being able to apply what has been learned. This is referred to as rote learning.
Progressively higher levels of learning understand what has been taught, achieving
the skill for application of what has been learned, and correlation of what has been
learned with other things previously learned or subsequently encountered.
When the student understands the procedure for entering a turn, has had turns
demonstrated, and has practiced turn entries until consistency has been achieved, the
student has developed the skill to apply what has been learned. This is a major level
of learning, and one at which the instructor is too often willing to stop. Discontinuing
instruction on turn entries at this point and directing subsequent instruction
exclusively to other elements of piloting performance is characteristic of piecemeal
instruction, which is usually inefficient. It violates the building block concept of
instruction by failing to apply what has been learned to future learning tasks. The
building block concept will be covered later in more detail.
The correlation level of learning, which should be the objective of aviation
instruction, is that level at which the student becomes able to associate an element
which has been learned with other segments or blocks of learning. The other
segments may be items or skills previously learned, or new learning tasks to be
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undertaken in the future. The student who has achieved this level of learning in turn
entries, for example, has developed the ability to correlate the elements of turn entries
with the performance of chandelier and lazy eights.
Domains of Learning
Besides the four basic levels of learning, educational psychologists have
developed several additional levels. These classifications consider what is to be
learned. Is it knowledge only, a change in attitude, a physical skill, or a combination
of knowledge and skill? One of the more useful categorizations of learning objectives
includes three domains: cognitive domain (knowledge), affective domain (attitudes,
beliefs, and values), and psychomotor domain (physical skills). Each of the domains
has a hierarchy of educational objectives. The listing of the hierarchy of objectives is
often called taxonomy. Taxonomy of educational objectives is a systematic
classification scheme for sorting learning outcomes into the three broad categories
(cognitive, affective, and psychomotor) and ranking the desired outcomes in a
developmental hierarchy from least complex to most complex.
1. Cognitive Domain: The cognitive domain, described by Dr. Benjamin Bloom,
is one of the best known educational domains. It contains additional levels of
knowledge and understanding and is commonly referred to as Bloom's
taxonomy of educational objectives. The diagrammatic representation of
Blooms taxonomy is given in next pages.
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Figure: Dr. Bloom’s Hierarchial Taxonomy for the Cognitive Domain
2. Affective Domain: The affective domain may be the least understood, and in many
ways, the most important of the learning domains. A similar system for specifying
attitudinal objectives has been developed by D.R. Krathwohl. Like the Bloom
taxonomy, Krathwohl's hierarchy attempts to arrange these objectives in an order of
difficulty. Since the affective domain is concerned with a student's attitudes, personal
beliefs, and values, measuring educational objectives in this domain is not easy.
Figure: Krathwohl's Hierarchial Taxonomy for the Affective Domain
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3. Psychomotor Domain: There are several taxonomies which deal with the
psychomotor domain (physical skills), but none are as popularly recognized as
the Bloom and Krathwohl taxonomies. However, the taxonomy developed by
E.J. Simpson also is generally acceptable. Psychomotor or physical skills
always have been important in aviation. Typical activities involving these
skills include learning to fly a precision instrument approach procedure,
programming a GPS receiver, or using sophisticated maintenance equipment.
As physical tasks and equipment become more complex, the requirement for
integration of cognitive and physical skills increases.
Figure: Simpson’s Hierarchial Taxonomy for the Psychomotor Domain
Theories of Learning – An Introduction
Learning Theories are attempts to systematize what is known about learning.
Theories have two main values to researchers and educators. First, they provide
conceptual frames and vocabulary for interpreting and understanding learning that can
be observed in humans and animals. When observers (teachers, researchers, and others
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who are interested in learning) have a common framework in the form of a model or
theory to explain their observations, they can build and expand what is known in
meaningful and useful ways. Secondly, theories and models of learning help us know
where to look for practical solutions to practical problems in the classroom and other
learning environments.
Criteria for a useful theory
1. A theory serves as a means of approaching an area of knowledge. It includes
facts, laws, and principles. A theory may introduce its own descriptive
language. Different theories for the same area may lead to different approaches
to the same subject area.
2. A theory should be parsimonious... this means the simplest and shortest
statement that adequately covers the facts.
3. A theory should explain and summarize the observations about the subject area.
4. A theory should be predictive in the area of the phenomena it explains.
5. A theory should include testable hypotheses
Classification of Learning Theories
6. A theory should be logically consistent.
Learning takes places in different ways. It covers a wide range, starting from the
simple forms of animal learning to the complex forms of adult human learning. The
difference between the simple and the complex is not one of kind, but of degree. A
learning theory is a bunch of principles which explains how an organism learns. The
diagrammatic representation is as follows:
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There are several learning theories developed by eminent psychologists of the world.
These theories of learning can be broadly divided into following categories:
1. Connectionist or Associative or S-R theories: The connectionist theory
focuses on the stimulus – response paradigm. In our daily life, we close our eyes
when a sudden flash of light fall on the eyes. Light acts as a stimulus but closing
of eyes is the response. But in learning, responses that do not normally follow
certain stimulation do become connected with these stimuli. The following
theories come under this category.
 Thorndike's connectionism
 Pavlov's Classical conditioning
 Skinner's Operant conditioning
2. Central or Cognitive or Field Theories: The field theories of learning are
focused on the processes which intervene between stimuli and response. These
intervening processes are basically the mental processes. This is why these
theories are also known as cognitive theories. By cognition we mean
organization and processing of information in mind. The field theories looks
upon the learners as a dynamic energy system set into the environment that is in
turn a complex of other dynamic energy systems. Through interaction with the
environment, there is change which in the learning product and environment in
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turn is also not static but dynamic. The learner, then, as one dynamic system, is
part of the environment; constantly interacting, hence adapting, adjusting,
modifying in short you can say learning. The following theories come under the
umbrella of field theories:
 Gestalt Theory or Insight theory
Tolman's Sign Theory
Lewin's Field Theory.
3. Functional theories: A functional theory of learning is not very popular. The
word functional refers to the concept that one set of circumstances is related to
another set; that in learning, for example, one set of outcomes has a functional
relationship to the antecedent set of conditions and the functional psychologist
is interested in knowing this relationship.
Different Perspectives of Learning
Several ideas affect
how teachers think about
readiness, and transfer have
generated from the various
curriculum, the difference
theories which have been
proposed time to time. These
theories provide solution to
many issues about classroom learning that are relevant to classrooms. One can
understand the exact nature of learning by understanding various perspectives of
learning. In this section, we will discuss about the three important perspectives of
learning i.e. behaviorism (learning as changes in overt behavior), cognitivism and
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constructivism, (learning as changes in thinking). Let us now trace the evolution of the
concept of learning according to different perspectives.
1. Behaviorist Perspective: Behaviorism is a school of psychology that focuses
on the observable, measurable aspects of experience and that we call stimulusresponse based. The main contributors are John B. Watson, Ivan Pavlov, B.F.
Skinner, E. L. Thorndike (connectionism), Bandura, Tolman. According to this
perspective, all behaviors are the result of external stimuli and there is no need
to consider internal mental states or consciousness. Hence, it assumes a learner
is essentially passive, who starts off as a clean slate (i.e. tabula rasa) and whose
behavior is shaped through positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement.
Skinner analyzed that learning is a consequence of behaviour
(reinforcement) and both positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement
increase the probability that the antecedent behavior to happen again. In
contrast, punishment (both positive and negative) decreases the likelihood that
the antecedent behavior will happen again. Here, positive indicates the
application of a stimulus; Negative indicates the withholding of a stimulus.
Thorndike’s theory is also sometimes called as connectionism or a bond
theory of learning, because in his views learning is connecting and how learning
can be accomplished has been proposed in the laws of learning i.e. the laws of
readiness, exercise and effect. The Law of Readiness means a person can learn
when physically and mentally adjusted (ready) to receive stimuli. Similarly,
law of exercise says that “when connection between stimulus and response is
practiced then the final learning product is learnt easily” and finally in the
words of Thorndike, the principle of effect is the fundamental law of teaching
and learning. The law states that "When pleasant or satisfying consequences
follow or attend a response, the latter tends to be repeated. When painful or
annoying consequences attend a response it tends to be eliminated." That is the
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bond between the situation and response strengthens with satisfying results and
weakens-with the displeasure and discomfort.
In spite of having a very popular approach, the limitations of
behaviorism which surfaced was the idea of human behaviour being shaped by
reinforcement contingencies was found wanting. The presence of mind
experientially could not be ignored and which paved its way to cognitive
psychology in 1960s, particularly the cognitive information processing
2. Cognitive Perspective: The cognitivist revolution replaced behaviorism in
1960s as the dominant paradigm. It does not view the individuals as a
mechanical product of their environment, but as an active agent in the learning
process who deliberately tries to process and categorize the information. Thus,
it stresses cognition and sees learning as occurring within the learner. They
assumed that sensory experience only provides raw data which acts as a
potential source of information to mind, where it is interpreted or made sense of
through the process of reasoning. Thus, it focuses on processing rather than
behavior. The main contributors to the cognitive theories are Gagne, Briggs,
Wager, Bruner (moving toward cognitive constructivism), Schank, Merrill-
Component Display Theory (CDT) etc.
As learning for behaviorists is determined by external environmental
structures that lead to reinforcement of behavior, cognitivists insist that there are
mental processes which are internal and conscious representations of the world
essential for human learning. Thus, cognitivism focuses on the mental processes
such as thinking, memory, knowing, and problem-solving which are necessary
for understanding how people learn. Therefore, learning here is defined as
change in a learner’s schemata (symbolic mental constructions) through
knowledge acquisition which is the result of perceptual experience. This change
in an individual as a result of learning can be observed in his/her actions even
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though this may not necessarily be demonstrated in the form of changed
3. Constructivist Perspective: Constructivism is centered on the idea that human
knowledge and learning is actively constructed by the learner, not passively
received from the environment. According to Piaget “a process of continuous
self-construction…we create knowledge in our heads and that created
knowledge may be interpreted differently by each of us.” The original
contributors to constructivism are Vygotsky, Piaget, Dewey, and Bruner.
Constructivist believed that Knowledge is not impersonal or absolute; it is
always someone's knowledge. It is created or constructed by the experiencing
individual. It is important in this light to understand how do learners actively
build or 'construct' this new knowledge? Well, the answer lies in the prior
knowledge/ previous knowledge of the learner. Learners built new cognitive
structures on the basis of their own individual experiences and cognitive
structures. Also, constructivism gives importance to outside influences and
stimuli while stressing individual formation and interpretation.
Here, learning is active and contextualized process of constructing
knowledge by constantly testing the hypotheses through social negotiations
rather than acquiring it. Learners continuously test these hypotheses through
social negotiation. Each individual has a different interpretation and
construction of knowledge process which is influenced by the experience.
Hence, the learner is not a blank slate (tabula rasa) but brings past experiences
and cultural factors to a situation.
Piaget also emphasized that the individuals construct their knowledge by
their own actions. Action performed in specific situations leads to the
development of universal, general structures (schemas). He believed that
humans learn to adapt to the physical environment and this process of
adaptation takes place with the help other processes like assimilation,
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accommodation and equilibration. According to him, each individual passes
through four stages for cognitive development, which are as follows:
Sensorimotor stage (birth to 18-24 months)
Preoperational stage (2 to 7 years)
Concrete operational stage (7 to 11 years) and
Formal operational stage (over 11 years).
Piaget was criticized for ignoring the significance of socio cultural
factors in cognitive development. Lev Vygotsky proposed that the stages of
development as described by Piaget may not be true for all children. He strongly
proposed that learning is rooted in the socio-cultural set up of the individual
which provide them with a thinking perspective. He also observed that all are
capable of solving problems independently which he termed as 'zone of actual
development'. But he believed that sometimes children solve problems with
support of their teacher or peers, termed as 'zone of proximal development'.
Thorndike, Pavlov,
Change in behaviour
Social and situational
Maslow, Rogers
fulfill potential.
Stimuli in external
periphery to the centre
of a community of
cognitive needs
Movement from the
Lave and Wenger
A personal act to
processing, memory,
insight, information
These perspectives can be summed up in the following table:
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Produce behavioural
change in desired
and skills to learn
participation in
practice and utilization
of resources
Structures content of
environment to elicit
learning activity
development of the
whole person
desired response
conversation and
participation can occur.
learning & memory
as function of age
and training
Social participation
As can be seen from the above schematic presentation and the discussion on the
above cited pages, these approaches involve contrasting ideas as to the purpose and
process of learning and education - and the role that educators may take. It is also
important to recognize that the theories may apply to different sectors of the
acquisition-formalized learning continuum outlined above.
5.10 Let Us Sum Up
Learning is measurable and relatively permanent change in behavior through
experience, instruction or study. Burns conceives of learning as a relatively permanent
change in behaviour with behaviour including both observable activity and internal
processes such as thinking, attitudes and emotions. It is clear that Burns includes
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motivation in this definition of learning. Burns considers that learning might not
manifest itself in observable behaviour until some time after the educational program
has taken place. There are many different theories of how people learn. What follows is
a variety of them, and it is useful to consider their application to how your students
learn and also how you teach in educational programs. In this lesson, we discussed the
concept of learning very briefly. A brief sketch of the various theories of learning has
also been discussed to some extent. Some of the important theories will be discussed in
the lessons that follow.
5.11 Check Your Progress
Define learning? Highlight the various important definitions of learning?
State in brief the Characteristics and Purposes of learning?
What do you mean by Domains of Learning?
What is meant by a learning theory? Discus in brief the Classification of
Learning Theories?
5.12 Suggested Readings
1. Driscoll P. (2000). Psychology of Learning for Instruction, Allyn and Bacon,
2. Hergenhahn B.R. (1993). An Introduction to Theories of learning, Prentice Hall
International, New Jersey.
3. Lister, Crow (1956) Human Development and Learning, American Book
Company, New York.
4. T. Tighe, Modern Learning Theory (1982); B. Schwartz, Psychology of
Learning and Behavior (2d ed. 1983).
5. Wolfolk, A.E. (2004). Educational Psychology, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
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Concept of Motivation
Components of Motivation
Definitions of Motivation
Importance of Motivation
Classification of Motivation
Advantages of Motivation
Let Us Sum Up
Check Your Progress
6.10 Suggested Readings
Lesson Structure
Dear students this lesson deals with one of the important and significant
concepts in the field of educational psychology. You may be well aware of the fact that
human nature is controlled and directed by certain motives. The motives are very
important in learning. They initiate, direct, control and enrich learning. Motivation in
education means stimulating interest in learning among students. Generally in the
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classroom some students are very much interested and some are reluctant for learning.
The reason behind these two kinds of behavior is motivation level of students. If a
teacher puts his material to a class in very effective way, though he can not force
students to learn until, they are not motivated for learning. So motivation is that force
which incites students learning or any other action. It also determines the direction of
Dear students, after reading this lesson, you should be able to:
State the meaning of the term motivation;
Trace out the significance of motivation in class room learning;
Discuss in brief the components involved in the process of motivation; and
State the advantages and disadvantages of the process of motivation.
Concept of Motivation
Motivation is a psychological and sociological concept as it relates to human
behavior and human relations. It is the most fundamental and all pervasive concept of
psychology. For motivation, sweet words are useful but are certainly not adequate.
Motivation basically relates to human needs, desires and expectations. In other words,
these factors suggest the measures which can be used for the motivation of employees.
In motivation, efforts should be made to satisfy the different needs of employees so that
they will be satisfied, happy and away from tensions. This creates favorable
environment because of which employees take more interest and initiative in the work
and perform their jobs efficiently. Motivation is a technique of creating attraction for
the job. It is encouraging employees for better performance in order to achieve the
goals of an Organization. The process of motivation is a continuous one (circular one)
and is beneficial to both - employer and employees. It is a key to improve work
performance of employees.
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The term 'motive' is derived from the Latin word 'emovere' which means to
move or to activate. Motivation is the act of making someone to act in the desired
manner through positive encouragement. It is through motivation that employees can be
induced to work more, to earn more and to give better results to the Organization. The
word ‘Motivation’ is derived from the Latin word ‘Motum’ which means move or
motion. Motivation is the internal impetus of our behavior.
Briefly speaking, we can say that Motivation is defined as the process that
initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. Motivation is what causes us to
act, whether it is getting a glass of water to reduce thirst or reading a book to gain
knowledge. It involves the biological, emotional, social and cognitive forces that
activate behavior. In everyday usage, the term motivation is frequently used to
describe why a person does something. For example, you might say that a student is so
motivated to get into a clinical psychology program that she spends every night
Psychologists have proposed a number of different theories of motivation,
including drive theory, instinct theory and humanistic theory.
Components of Motivation
There are three major components to motivation: activation, persistence and
intensity. Activation involves the decision to initiate a behavior, such as enrolling in a
psychology class. Persistence is the continued effort toward a goal even though
obstacles may exist, such as taking more psychology courses in order to earn a
degree although it requires a significant investment of time, energy and resources.
Finally, intensity can be seen in the concentration and vigor that goes into pursuing a
goal. For example, one student might coast by without much effort, while another
student will study regularly, participate in discussions and take advantage of research
opportunities outside of class.
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Definition of Motivation
1. According to W. G. Scot, “Motivation means a process of stimulating people to
action to accomplish the desired goals.”
2. According to Michael J. Jucius, “Motivation is the act of stimulating someone
or oneself to get a desired course of action, to push the right button to get the
desired results.”
3. According to Skinner, “Motivation is the super-highway to learning”.
4. In the words of Johnson Motivation is the influence of general pattern of
activity initiating and directing the behavior of the organism.
5. According to Kelly, Motivation is the central factor in the efficient management
of the process of learning.
6. In the words of Averill, Motivation means vitalized effort. It fires the
imagination and releases the flood gates of ambition, determination, purpose
etc. It inspires in the person the will to do, to achieve and to overcome.
Thus on the basis of above definitions, we may conclude that motivation is the
force which compels an individual to act or to behave in a particular direction. The
direction that such a motivated behavior takes is the goal of the individual.
Importance of Motivation
Motivation occupies an important place and position in the whole management
process. This technique can be used fruitfully for encouraging workers to make positive
contribution for achieving organizational objectives. Motivation is necessary as human
nature needs some sort of inducement, encouragement or incentive in order to get better
performance. Motivation of employee’s offers many benefits to the Organisation and
also to the employees. This suggests the importance of motivating employees.
Motivation acts as a technique for improving the performance of employees working at
different levels. Motivation of employees is one function which every manager has to
perform along with other managerial functions. A manager has to function as a friend
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and motivator of his subordinates. Motivation is useful in all aspects of life and even
our family life. The same is the case with business. This dearly suggests that motivation
is extremely important. It is an integral part of management process itself.
Motivation is an internal feeling which can be understood only by manager
since he is in close contact with the employees. Needs, wants and desires are interrelated and they are the driving force to act. These needs can be understood by the
manager and he can frame motivation plans accordingly. We can say that motivation
therefore is a continuous process since motivation process is based on needs which are
unlimited. The process has to be continued throughout.
We can summarize by saying that motivation is important both to an individual
and a business. Motivation is important to an individual as:
1. Motivation will help him achieve his personal goals.
2. If an individual is motivated, he will have job satisfaction.
3. Motivation will help in self-development of individual.
4. An individual would always gain by working with a dynamic team.
Similarly, motivation is important to a business as:
1. The more motivated the employees are, the more empowered the team is.
2. The more is the team work and individual employee contribution, more
profitable and successful is the business.
3. During period of amendments, there will be more adaptability and creativity.
4. Motivation will lead to an optimistic and challenging attitude at work place.
Classification of Motivation
Motivation can be classified under two broad categories:
1. Intrinsic Motivation, and
2. Extrinsic Motivation
1. Intrinsic Motivation: Intrinsic Motivation refers to motivation that is driven by
an interest or enjoyment in the task itself, and exists within the individual rather
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than relying on any external pressure. Intrinsic motivation has been studied
by social and educational psychologists since the early 1970s. Research has
found that it is usually associated with high educational achievement and
enjoyment by students. Explanations of intrinsic motivation have been given in
the context of Fritz Heider's attribution theory, Bandura's work on selfefficacy, and
Deci and
evaluation theory
(see self-
determination theory). Students are likely to be intrinsically motivated if they:
attribute their educational results to internal factors that they can control (e.g.
the amount of effort they put in),
believe they can be effective agents in reaching desired goals (i.e. the results are
not determined by luck),
are interested in mastering a topic, rather than just rote-learning to achieve good
2. Extrinsic Motivation: Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of the
individual. Common extrinsic motivations are rewards like money and
grades, coercion and threat of punishment. Competition is in general extrinsic
because it encourages the performer to win and beat others, not to enjoy the
intrinsic rewards of the activity. A crowd cheering on the individual and
trophies are also extrinsic incentives. Social psychological research has
indicated that extrinsic rewards can lead to over justification and a subsequent
reduction in intrinsic motivation. In one study demonstrating this effect,
children who expected to be (and were) rewarded with a ribbon and a gold star
for drawing pictures spent less time playing with the drawing materials in
subsequent observations than children who were assigned to an unexpected
reward condition and to children who received no extrinsic reward. Selfdetermination theory proposes that extrinsic motivation can be internalized by
the individual if the task fits with their values and beliefs and therefore helps to
fulfill their basic psychological needs.
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Advantages of Motivation
Advantages of Motivation to Education: Motivation in education can have
several effects on how students learn and how they behave towards subject
matter. It can:
Direct behavior toward particular goals
Lead to increased effort and energy
Increase initiation of, and persistence in, activities
Enhance cognitive processing
Determine what consequences are reinforcing
Lead to improved performance.
Advantages of Motivation to Management / Organization: In Management /
Organization Motivation can:
Increase the efficiency and productivity of employees. Motivation ensures
a high level performance of employees.
Better co-operation from employees and cordial labour-management
Reduction in the rate of labour absenteeism and turnover.
Reduction in the wastages and industrial accidents.
Improvement in the morale of employees.
Quick achievement of business/corporate objectives and favorable
corporate image.
Advantages of Motivation to Employees / Workers: Effective motivation
among different employees and workers can help us in the following ways:
Employees get various monetary and non-monetary facilities/benefits
which provide better life and welfare to them.
Security of employment and other benefits due to cordial relations with the
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Job attraction and job satisfaction.
Higher status and opportunities of participation in management.
Positive approach and outlook of employees towards company,
management and superiors.
Reduction in the rate of labour turnover which is harmful to employees and
Better scope for improvement in knowledge and skills of employees.
Let Us Sum Up
Motivation is of particular interest to educational psychologists because of the
crucial role it plays in student learning. However, the specific kind of motivation that is
studied in the specialized setting of education differs qualitatively from the more
general forms of motivation studied by psychologists in other fields. Motivation in
education can have several effects on how students learn and how they behave towards
subject matter. Because students are not always internally motivated, they sometimes
need situated motivation, which is found in environmental conditions that the teacher
creates. The majority of new student orientation leaders at colleges and universities
recognize that distinctive needs of students should be considered in regard to
orientation information provided at the beginning of the higher education experience.
Research done by Whyte in 1986 raised the awareness of counselors and educators in
this regard. In 2007, the National Orientation Directors Association reprinted Cassandra
B. Whyte's research report allowing readers to ascertain improvements made in
addressing specific needs of students over a quarter of a century later to help with
academic success.
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Suggested Readings
1. Bhatnagar,A.B.(2006). Development of learner and teaching learning process.
R.Lal Book Depot.
2. Gawel, J. E. (1997). Herzberg’s theory of motivation and Maslow’s hierarchy of
needs. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 421 486)
3. Maslow, A. H. (1970). Motivation and personality (2nd ed.). New York: Harper
and Row.
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Lesson Structure
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Educational Implications of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Limitations and Criticism of Maslow’s Theory
Let Us Sum Up
Check Your Progress
Suggested Readings
Dear students this lesson deals with the theory of motivation given by Abraham
Maslow. Abraham Maslow is a well renowned psychologist known for proposing the
Hierarchy of Needs Theory in 1943. This theory is a classical depiction of human
motivation. This theory is based on the assumption that there is a hierarchy of five
needs within each individual. The urgency of these needs varies. These five needs are
Physiological needs, Safety needs, Social needs, Esteem needs, and Self-actualization
need. All these concepts will be discussed in the lines that follow.
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Dear learners, after reading this lesson, you should be able to:
Discuss the theory of motivation given by Maslow;
State the different types of needs suggested by Maslow; and
Highlight the significance of Maslow’s theory in the educational setting.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchical theory of human motivation is a contemporary
Organismic theory. Goldstein gave his Organismic theory of human motivation.
According to which there is only one fundamental human motive i.e. self-actualization
from which the other motives arise. Hunger, thrust, desire for knowledge, prestige and
other social motives are special manifestations of the basic tendency to realize the self.
But Maslow assumed that human motives are arranged along a hierarchy of potency.
That need which has the greatest potency dominates behavior and demand satisfaction.
When that need is satisfied, a higher order motive makes its appearance and demand
satisfaction and so on to the top of the hierarchy. A schematic representation of the
hierarchy of human motives is given in the following figure
Maslow’s Hierarchical Structure of Motivation
In this figure of hierarchy of human motives, physiological needs are at the base
and upon them are other needs.
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Physiological Needs: Physiological Needs are those needs which required
sustaining life such as air, water, nourishment, sleep etc. According to
Maslow’s theory, if such needs are not satisfied, then one’s motivation will arise
from the quest to satisfy them. Higher needs such as social needs and esteem are
not felt until one has met the needs basic to one’s bodily functioning.
Safety Needs: After the satisfaction of physiological needs, the next higher
order needs emerges and dominates the individual. He wants safety or security
of the following types:
Living in a safe area
Medical insurance
Job security
Financial reserves etc.
Social Needs: These needs emerge if two lower order needs are reasonably
Needs of friends
Needs of belongings
Needs of give and receive love etc.
Esteem Needs: The fourth order need is the Esteem needs, which are as
Self respect
satisfied. It includes following type of needs-
Self Actualization: If all the foregoing needs are satisfied, the need for selfactualization impels the individual to make activity. Self Actualization tend to
have needs such asi.
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According to Maslow, the self-actualized person is one whom all the
potentialities are coming to full development. His inner nature expresses itself freely,
rather than being rapped, suppressed or denied. If his inner nature is denied its
Educational Implications of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
expression, the person gets sick.
The implications of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for education are in the
relationship between Deficiency needs and Growth needs. A student, who is very
hungry or in physical discomfort, will have low psychological energy to put into
learning. Schools and governmental agencies recognized that if the basic needs of
students are not fulfilled, learning will suffer. In schools, the most important deficiency
needs may be those for love and self esteem. If students do not feel that they are loved
and they are capable, they are unlikely to have a strong motivation to achieve higher
growth objectives. These may be search for knowledge and understanding or the
creativity and openness to new ideas. These are the characteristics of self actualized
person. A student who is unsure of his capabilities will tend to make the safe choice. A
teacher who is able to put students at ease, to make them feel accepted and respected as
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individuals, is more likely to help them become eager to learn. They are willing to risk
being creative and open to new ideas. If they are to become self directed learners,
students must feel that the teacher will respond fairly and consistently to them and they
will not be punished for honest errors.
Pedagogical Implications of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need
Stage - I
Pedagogical Implications
Learner will lose attention and not be able to learn well if
their physical conditions such as accessibility, hunger,
insufficient sleep, illness and noise are not well attended.
No physical obstacles that hinder the accessibility to the
learning material in this stage.
Stage - II
The learning environment must be safe and sound for all
students from any background and of any age. For ex.
There should be special facilities for disabled or
communicating with their peer group.
Love and sense of The individual learner needs to be cared and loved by the
Stage- III
peer group and educator. The educator will create such
(social needs)
The personal strength, qualities, and uniqueness within the
Stage- IV
individual learner is developed and found in the learning
Stage - V
The learner will develop the full potential as a human
being to realize the purpose driven learning process and
the cultural life.
There are some suggestions that teachers or learning facilitators, can get by
Abraham Maslow's hierarchy are as follows:
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1. Learning facilitators should help students to become authentic citizens, ones
who are aware of their inner selves.
2. Learning facilitators should help students to transcend their cultural
conditioning and become world citizens.
3. Learning facilitators should help students discover their vocation, fate, or their
destiny. This is usually focused on finding the right career, and the right life
4. Learning facilitators should help students to learn that life is precious, that there
is joy to be experienced in life, and if people are open to seeing the good and
joyful in all kinds of situations, it makes life more worth living.
5. Learning facilitators must accept students as they are, and help students learn
their inner nature. From real knowledge of aptitudes, we can know what to
build upon, what potentials are really there.
includes safety, belongingness, and esteem needs.
6. Learning facilitators must see that the student's basic needs are satisfied, this
7. Learning facilitators should have consciousness, teaching students to
appreciate beauty, and the other good things in nature, and in living.
8. Learning facilitators should teach students that some controls are good, and
all areas.
complete abandon is bad. It takes self control to improve the quality of life in
9. Learning facilitators should teach students to transcend their more minor
and adjust with the serious problems in life. These include the
problems of injustice, pain, sufferings, and death.
Limitations and Criticism of Maslow’s Theory
Though Maslow's hierarchy makes sense intuitively, little evidence supports its
strict hierarchy. Actually, recent research challenges the order of the needs as
advocated by Maslow's pyramid. As an example, in some cultures, social needs are
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placed more fundamentally than any others. Further, Maslow's hierarchy fails to
explain the "starving artist" scenario, in which the aesthetic neglects their physical
needs to pursuit of aesthetic or spiritual goals. Additionally, little evidence suggests that
people satisfy exclusively one motivating need at a time, other than situations where
needs conflict. While scientific support fails to reinforce Maslow's hierarchy, his
theory is very popular, being the introductory motivation theory for many students and
managers, worldwide. To handle a number of the issues of present in the Needs
Hierarchy, Clayton Alderfer devised the ERG theory, a consistent needs-based model
that aligns more accurately with scientific research.
The specific weak points of the theory are listed below:
It is essential to note that not all employees are governed by same set of
needs. Different individuals may be driven by different needs at same point
of time. It is always the most powerful unsatisfied need that motivates an
The theory is not empirically supported.
The theory is not applicable in case of starving artist as even if the artist’s
basic needs are not satisfied, he will still strive for recognition and
Let Us Sum Up
In this unit we have discussed about the Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs
and its educational implications. The motives are very important in learning. They
initiate, direct, control and enrich learning. Motivation in education means stimulating
interest in learning among students. Maslow gave the theory of hierarchy of needs. He
assumed that human motives are arranged along a hierarchy of potency. That need
which has the greatest potency dominates behavior and demand satisfaction. When that
need is satisfied, a higher order motive makes its appearance and demand satisfaction
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and so on to the top of the hierarchy. The implications of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
for education are in the relationship between Deficiency needs and Growth needs.
Check Your Progress
What do you understand by motivation?
Discuss about the Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs?
What are the educational implications of Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of
Suggested Readings
1. Bhatnagar,A.B.(2006). Development of learner and teaching learning process.
R.Lal Book Depot.
2. Gawel, J. E. (1997). Herzberg’s theory of motivation and Maslow’s hierarchy of
needs. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 421 486)
3. Maslow, Abraham (1954). Motivation and Personality. Harper and Row New
York, New York
4. Wahba, A; Bridgewell, L (1976). "Maslow reconsidered: A review of research
on the need hierarchy theory". Organizational Behavior and Human
Performance (15): 212–240.
Lesson Structure
Life Sketch of E.L Thorndike
Works of E.L Thorndike
Trial and Error Theory of Learning -An Introduction
Thorndike's Experiments on Cat
Steps in Trial and Error Learning
Laws of Learning as suggested by E.L. Thorndike
Educational Implications of Thorndike's Theory
Let us Sum up
8.10 Check your Progress
8.11 Suggested Readings
Different psychologists have put forth various theories of learning which proved very
helpful to teaching learning process. Each theory has its own explanation and rationale
about the process of learning. Let us concentrate about the following theories of
learning:1) Trial and Error Theory of Learning ( E. L. Thorndike)
2) Operant Conditioning Theory of Learning ( B.F. Skinner)
3) Insight Theory of Learning ( Kohler)
Trial and Error is a method of learning in which various responses are
tentatively tried and some discarded until a solution is attained.
E.L. Thorndike (1874-1949) was the chief exponent of the theory of
connectionism or trial and error. He was an American Psychologist who conducted
Stimulus - Response(S-R) theory experiment with the help of animals. Thorndike was
the first to study the subject of learning systematically using standardized procedure
and apparatus. All learning, according to Thorndike is the formation of bonds or
connections between Stimulus-Response. In this unit, you will read about the three
major laws propounded by Thorndike on Connectionism.
His theory went
beyond Pavlov by showing that an act that is followed by a favourable effect is more
favourable effect is less likely to be repeated.
likely to be repeated in similar situations and an act that is followed by un
After going through this unit, you should be able to:
Discuss in detail the S-R theory of learning as advocated by E.L Thorndike;
Discuss the three major laws of learning propounded by Thorndike;
State the steps involved in S-R theory of learning; and
Explain the educational implications of Thorndike’s theory of learning;
Life Sketch of E.L Thorndike
Edward Lee Thorndike (August 31, 1874 – August 9, 1949) was
an American educational and comparative psychologist who spent nearly his entire
career at Teachers College, Columbia University. He formulated the basic law of
operant learning, the law of effect. Thorndike’s importance for the twentieth century
psychology is in his methodological and theoretical approach to animal learning and his
formulation of a stimulus-response (S-R) psychology that he called “connectionism.”
Thorndike was striving to understand the learning process, through studying animals, to
develop applications in education and thus benefit society. Although not formally
a behaviorist, Thorndike's work was foundational to the development of American
behavioristic psychology.
Edward Lee Thorndike was born on August 31, 1874, in Williamsburg,
Massachusetts, into a Methodist minister family. Edward was raised in an environment
marked by sternness and religious exhortation, but as a young adult chose to
eschew religion and pursued a personal code derived from his commitment to
Edward Thorndike was attracted to psychology, when he read William James’
“Principles” for a debate competition at his undergraduate school, Wesleyan
University, in Connecticut. Thorndike completed his Bachelors degree at Wesleyan, in
1895, and went on with his graduate work at Harvard University, where he eagerly
signed up for courses with William James and eventually majored in psychology.
His first research interest was children and pedagogy but, no child subjects
being available, Thorndike took up the study of learning in animals. William James
gave him a place to work in his basement after Thorndike failed to secure official
research space from Harvard. Thorndike completed his Masters in 1897. James
McKeen Cattell offered Thorndike a fellowship at Columbia University, where he
defended his doctoral dissertation, “Animal Intelligence: An Experimental Study of the
Associative Processes in Animals,” in 1898. He expanded and published his
dissertation in 1911.
In 1899, Columbia University took over the New York College for the Training
of Teachers, and Thorndike joined the faculty of the consolidated Columbia Teachers
College. He remained there for the rest of his career, pursuing educational issues,
especially in intelligence testing.
Works of E.L Thorndike
In the early 1900s, Edward Thorndike published two works outlining
and testing principles—Educational
Psychology (1903)
and Introduction to Theory of Mental and Social Measurement (1904). Both texts
became necessary reading for a generation of students of psychology and the social
sciences. Thorndike described intelligence through a somewhat elementaristic approach
by stressing that intelligence is composed of a number of abilities. Although
in behavioristic psychology, his capacity to use his research reflected an applied
direction, entirely consistent with American functionalism.
Thorndike’s work on animal behavior and the learning process led to the theory
of “connectionism.” Thorndike wrote, “Our reasons for believing in the existence of
other people’s minds are our experience of their physical actions.” He formulated the
doctrine that consciousness is unnecessary for learning. Unlike Ivan Pavlov, Thorndike
practiced a purely behavioral psychology without reference to physiology.
On the other hand, Thorndike proposed a principle of “belongingness” that
violates a basic principle of classical conditioning, namely, that those elements most
associated in space and time will be connected in learning. The sentences “John is a
butcher, Harry is a carpenter, Jim is a doctor,” presented in the list like this, would
make butcher-Harry a stronger bond than butcher-John, if the classical conditioning
contiguity theory were correct. However, this is clearly not the case. John and butcher
“belong” together (because of the structure of the sentences) and so will be associated,
and recalled together. This principle of belongingness resembled Gestalt psychology
rather than behaviorism.
Thorndike examined problem solving strategies in a variety of species, which he
tested in “puzzle boxes” consisting of a series of chambers designed to reward specific
responses. Thorndike was impressed with his subjects’ gradual acquisition of
successful responses by trial-and-error learning and by accidental success. These
observations led him to conclude that there were two basic principles of learning:
exercise and effect.
Trial and Error Theory of Learning -An Introduction
This theory was given by E. L. Thorndike (1874-1949). He is considered to be a
reinforcement theorist. According to him, all learning takes place by the method of trial
and error. The concept of reward has been introduced by Thorndike on the basis of
using standardized procedures, methods and techniques.
The basis of learning accepted by Thorndike is an association between the sense
impressions and impulses to action (response). This association came to be known as a
bond or a connection. Since it is these bonds or connections which become
strengthened or weakened in the making and formation of habits. This system of
Thorndike is also known as a 'bond' psychology or simply connection and this
connectionism makes trial and error as the basis for learning. A trial is defined by the
length of time involved in a single reaching of the goal (Hilgard, 1989). Thorndike
conducted early experiments on cats, dogs, fish and monkeys. But most of the
experiments were undertaken on cats.
Thorndike's Experiments on Cat
Thorndike placed a hungry cat in a box (see figure 01) and put favourite food of
the cat outside the box. The box had a door that could be opened by pulling a
string/wire loop or stepping on a treadle. The cat made a number of trails to reach the
goal but could not. At last, the cat succeeded in pulling the string. The door of the box
got opened and the cat came out and rushed to its favourite food and satisfied its
hunger. The cat was again returned to the box for another trial. The cat again showed a
lot of frantic behaviour but it took less time in reaching its goal (food). With succeeding
trails the cat became increasingly efficient in getting out of the box. In subsequent
trails, it was seen that the number of trials was less. This means that Thorndike's cat
exhibited slow, gradual and continuous improvement in performance over trails after
trials. The cat was opening the door of the box without wasting any time and energy.
Thorndike concluded that learning can be explained in terms of formation of direct
connection between the stimulus and the response.
Steps in Trial and Error Learning
Fig. 01: Cat trying out to come out from the box (Chance and Paul, p. 50)
The trail and error learning takes into account the following steps:-
1. Drive: If an organism is placed in a problematic situation, then it repeatedly
gets an inspiration or stimulus because in the beginning it finds itself unable to adjust.
If there will be no tension within the individual, he will quickly adjust himself and there
will be no particular improvement in his behaviour. In Thorndike's experiment, as the
cat was put inside an uncomfortable problem box, it got a stimulus to try to open the
box and finally came out.
2. Obstacle: There should be some obstacle in the satisfaction of the drive and
fulfillment of the object; otherwise there will be no learning in the organism. If the box
were such that the cat could have come out of it without any sincere attempt, then it
would not have learnt anything. As only it was difficult to open the box, the cat learnt
the trick with effort.
3. Random movements: In the beginning the organism does not know the correct
response, so it makes random movements. The organism has to indulge into a variety of
responses, each one of which is different from the other. These random movements can
be characterized by the running, dashing and jumping of the cat in Thorndike's
4. Chance success: While the organism is indulged in random movements,
success comes suddenly by chance. This step can be explained by the unaware and
sudden movements of the knob of the box by the cat which made the box open.
5. Selection: In the beginning the organism is indulged in random movements.
Due to the continuous experience of the organism, an order gradually appears in these
random movements. Then errors start to decline and the organism is able to respond
correctly. This is because the organism, due to his experience, starts learning and his
random movements start declining. In Thorndike's experiments the cat took much time
in the beginning to make the correct response; but in the successive trials it took less
time to make the correct movements. It started selecting its most suitable actions
amongst the random ones. Its activity, gradually, became more orderly and graded.
6. Fixation: After learning takes place, the organism does not commit mistakes.
Still some changes can be marked in its behaviour pattern. The speed of the organism
in responding correctly increases which after sometimes becomes fixed.
Laws of Learning as Suggested by E.L. Thorndike
The first systematic formulation of a learning theory was put forward by E. L.
Thorndike. According to this theory, learning proceeds by trial and error i.e. at the
initial stage the learner makes a lot of efforts and by accident lands on the correct one.
Thereafter, with repeated performance the wrong efforts are eliminated and the correct
ones are established as well as retained. In order to explain this process of elimination
and fixation, Thorndike formulated three basic laws which are as:1. Law of Readiness: Readiness denotes preparation for action and is essential for
learning to take place. If a child is ready to learn any activity, he will learn it more
quickly, effectively and with greater satisfaction. According to Thorndike, "when any
conduction unit is ready to conduct, for it to do so is satisfying. When any conduction
unit is not in readiness to conduct, for it to conduct is annoying. This law explains that
if a child is not ready to perform any activity for learning purpose, he should not be
compelled to perform the activity. Good results will never come unless proper
motivation is ensured.
Educational Implications
a) The teacher must wait till the learner is ready to learn.
b) He should provide such situations in the class room which develop readiness in
children. This emphasizes the importance of preparatory experiences and
motivation in learning.
c) Curricular and co-curricular activities should be provided according to the
child's level of maturity and pattern of abilities i.e. his physiological and
psychological readiness.
d) Problems solving and project methods are to be used for teaching.
e) Aptitude tests in various subjects may be administered to determine the
readiness of pupils.
2. Law of Exercise: Exercise is very essential for learning to occur. According to
this law, "those acts or moves which are repeated more frequently in the process of
learning tend to get established. In simple words, if an activity is repeated again and
again, it is learnt more effectively, on the other hand, if the same activity is not repeated
again and again, it is forgotten quickly. Here learning is a process of repetition. The law
of exercise has two categories - (i) Law of use (ii) Law of disuse.
i) The law of use: It means when a modifiable connection is made between a
stimulus and response (S - R), the connection's strength is, other things being
equal, increased
ii) The law of disuse: When a modifiable connection is not made between a
stimulus and a response during a length of time, that connection's strength is
Educational Implications
a) Sufficient opportunities should be given to students for practicing
repeating the new learning materials.
b) To maintain the connection for a longer period, it is necessary to review the
learned materials at intervals of time.
c) In elementary classes drilling of learning materials should be stressed.
3. Law of Effect: This law states that a response is strengthened if it is followed
by pleasure and weakened if it is followed by displeasure. In other words, here learning
takes place purely when it results in satisfaction and the learner derives pleasure out of
it. Thorndike, who is well known for his law of effect, states, "That learning which is
accompanied by satisfaction is likely to be more permanent than learning which is
accompanied by dissatisfaction". Successful actions are also more likely to be repeated
than those which bring displeasure and discomfort.
In short, learning under this law has an effect on the environment. All the
experiences, which are charming and which appeal one most, have an enduring
influence and are remembered for a long time. If these experiences do not appeal, they
will have no effect viz-a-viz. will disappear.
Educational Implications
a) The class room teaching-learning situations should be satisfactory and
enjoyable for the children as well as for the teacher.
b) Learning activities must be meaningful and understandable for the children.
c) School activities should be provided in such a way that every individual will get
opportunity for success in one area or the other.
d) Teaching-learning situations are to be arranged in increasing order of difficulty
so that the students may progress without failure.
e) Praise, encouragement and reward etc. should be given to students for
successful learning.
f) There should be provision for varied and novel experiences in the school.
Secondary Laws of Learning
a) Law of multiple response: This law implies that when an individual is
confronted with a new situation he responds in a variety of ways trying first one
response and then another before arriving at the correct one.
b) Law of attitude or mental set: Learning is guided by a total attitude or 'set' of
the organism. The learner performs the task properly if s/he has developed a
healthy attitude towards the work.
c) Law of partial activity: This suggests the capacity of the learner to deal with
the relevant part of the situation which is directly related to his learning effort.
The law states that the learner makes selective responses in the learning
d) Law of analogy: This law suggests that new situation are tackled on the basis
of older ones or previous experience.
4. Law of associative shifting: This law states that we may get any response of
which a learner is capable or associated with any situation to which he is sensitive.
Educational Implications of Thorndike's Theory of Learning
theory of
known as
'bond theory'/trial
error/connectionism, has a great educational significance. Its role in education is
discussed as under:1) Various mechanical activities are learnt by this method. Besides, activities such as
cycling, swimming, typing, tailoring, driving, etc. are acquired by the method of
trial and error.
2) It gives support to the work of practice drill and encourages repetition; so that the
association or connection of any activity is strengthened by providing reward.
3) Several scientific and technological inventions have taken place by this method.
4) This theory improves the learning and teaching methods. It develops interest in
work, interest in improvement and attentiveness among the students.
5) It provides a sort of motivation while performing learning activities. It has made
learning goal directed and purposeful activity.
6) Reward and punishment in psychological terms has been properly taken care of
by this theory e.g. the teacher gives reward or appreciates the work of the learner,
thereby the behaviour in terms of learning some other things get enhanced. If
punishment is given, the errors which a learner comments, during his work gets
minimized meaning thereby that the learner does not repeat the errors in the later
7) Thorndike's theory emphasizes the importance of motivation in learning. So
learning should be made purposeful and goal directed.
8) It stresses the importance of mental readiness, meaningful practice and incentive
in learning process.
9) The law of readiness implies that the teacher should prepare the minds of the
students to be ready to accept the knowledge, skills and aptitudes before teaching
the topic.
10) More and more opportunities should be given to the learners to use and repeat the
knowledge they get in the classroom for effectiveness and longer retention.
11) To maintain learned connection for longer period, review of learned material is
12) The law of effect has called attention to the importance of motivation and
reinforcement in learning.
13) In order to benefit from the mechanism of association in the learning process
what is being taught at one situation should be linked with the past experience of
the learner.
Let Us Sum Up
In this unit, you have learnt about Thorndike’s theory of trial and error learning
which emphasizes that learning is caused by the formation of connection between
stimuli and responses. Three major laws of learning propounded by Thorndike were
discussed as well as their implications of learning. In short, Thorndike’s theory of
connectionism along with his major laws of learning has contributed a lot in the field of
learning. It has made learning purposeful and goal-directed and has emphasized the
importance of motivation. It has given an impetus to the work of practice, drill and
exercise and highlighted the psychological importance of rewards and praise in the field
of learning.
8.10 Check Your Progress
1) Discuss in detail the S-R theory of learning as advocated by E.L Thorndike?
2) Discuss Thorndike’s three major laws of learning?
3) State the steps involved in S-R theory of learning
4) Discuss the classroom implications of Thorndike’s theory of learning?
8.11 Suggested Readings
1) Elliot, .N.,
T.R., Cook,
Educational Psychology (3 Ed) USA, McGraw Hill.
2) Hergenhahn B.R. (1993). An Introduction to Theories of learning, Prentice Hall
International, New Jersey.
3) Mangal, S .K (1998) General Psychology, New Delhi, Sterling Publishers
Private Limited.
4) Mmaduakonam, A. (1998) Behaviourial Learning Theories, Awka, Erudition
5) Oladele, J.O. (2005. Fundamentals of Educational Psychology (4th Ed) Lagos,
John-lad Publishers Ltd.
6) Wolfolk, A.E. (2004). Educational Psychology, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
Lesson Structure
B.F. Skinner-A Brief Biography
Historical Background of Operant Conditioning
Basic Assumptions of Skinner's Theory of Learning
Operant Conditioning Theory of Learning–An Introduction
Operant conditioning Chamber Theory of Learning
Skinner’s Experiments Regarding Operant Conditioning
Reflections of Skinner’s Experiments
Key Concepts Used by Skinner for Bringing out His Theory of
Learning − Operant conditioning
9.10 Principles of Operant Conditioning
9.11 Schedules of Reinforcement
9.12 Let Us Sum Up
9.13 Check Your Progress
9.14 Suggested Readings
In this lesson, we shall discuss in detail about history and emergence of operant
conditioning theory of learning. We shall also try to understand the various concepts
and terms associated with the theory of operant conditioning. Dear students Burrhus
Frederic Skinner was born and raised in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. As he
experimented with animals (mostly with rats and pigeons), Skinner noticed that the
responses he was recording were influenced not only by what preceded them but also
by what followed them. The common behavioral approach at the time was influenced
by the work of Pavlov and Watson, both of whom focused on the stimulus-response
paradigm. Their form of classical conditioning focused on what occurred prior to a
response and how these stimuli affected learning. Skinner, however, focused on what
occurred after a behavior, noting that the effects or repercussions of an action could
influence an organism's learning. By 1931, he had his Ph.D in psychology and was
well on his way in developing operant conditioning, the behaviorist paradigm that ruled
for the second part of the 20th century.
Skinner, and Stimulus-Response (S-R) adherents, believed that behaviorist
theory could be used to infer a learning history. They held that one could take an
animal or person, observe its/his/her behavior, and figure out what had been reinforced
previously. Behaviorist reduced all responses to associations, to a pattern of positive
and negative reinforcement that establishes links between stimuli and their
environmental antecedents and consequences. Responses that were reinforced would
be repeated, and those that were punished would not. Thus, if a dog brought its human
a ball and the human pet it, the dog’s behavior would be reinforced, and it would be
more apt to getting the ball in the future. Likewise, if the dog brought its human a ball
and the human kicked it, the dog’s behavior would be punished, and it would be less
likely to do it.
After going through this lesson, you will be able:
to know about the historical background of the theory of operant conditioning;
to understand the meaning and concept of operant conditioning;
to understand the various terms related to operant conditioning;
to understand the different schedules of reinforcement;
to understand the mechanism of operant conditioning;
to distinguish between classical and operant conditioning; and
to state the educational implications of the theory of operant conditioning.
B.F. Skinner-A Brief Biography
B. F. Skinner was one of the most influential of American psychologists. As a
behaviorist, he developed the theory of operant conditioning − the idea that behavior is
determined by its consequences, be they reinforcements or punishments, which make it
more or less likely that the behavior will occur again. Skinner believed that the only
scientific approach to psychology was one that studied behaviors, not internal
(subjective) mental processes. Skinner was heavily influenced by the work of John B.
Watson as well as early behaviorist pioneers Ivan Pavlov and Edward Thorndike. He
spent most of his professional life teaching at Harvard University (after 9 years in the
psychology department at Indiana University). He died in 1990 of leukemia, leaving
behind his wife, Yvonne Blue and two daughters.
Burrhus Frederic Skinner was born March 20, 1904 (he died in 1990 of
leukemia), in the small Pennsylvania town of Susquehanna. His father was a lawyer,
and his mother a strong and intelligent housewife. His upbringing was old-fashioned
and hard-working. Skinner was an active, out-going boy who loved the outdoors and
building things, and actually enjoyed school. His life was not without its tragedies,
however. In particular, his brother died at the age of 16 of a cerebral aneurysm.
B. F. Skinner received his BA in English from Hamilton College in upstate New
York. Ultimately, he resigned himself to writing newspaper articles on labor problems,
and lived for a while in Greenwich Village in New York City as a “bohemian.” After
some traveling, he decided to go back to school, this time at Harvard. He got his
masters in psychology in 1930 and his doctorate in 1931, and stayed there to do
research until 1936. Also in that year, he moved to Minneapolis to teach at the
University of Minnesota. There he met and soon married Yvonne Blue. They had two
daughters, the second of which became famous as the first infant to be raised in one of
Skinner’s inventions, the air crib which was nothing more than a combination crib and
playpen with glass sides and air conditioning.
In 1931 he moved to Minneapolis to teach at the University of Minnesota.
There he met and soon married Yvonne Blue. In 1945, another move took him to the
psychology department at Indiana University, where he became department chair. In
1948, he was invited back to Harvard, where he remained for the rest of his life. He
was a very active man, doing research and guiding hundreds of doctoral candidates as
well as writing many books. While not successful as a writer of fiction and poetry, he
became one of our best psychology writers, including the book Walden II, which is a
fictional account of a community run by his behaviorist principles.
August 18, 1990, B. F. Skinner died of leukemia after becoming perhaps the
most celebrated psychologist since Sigmund Freud. Skinner accepted the model of
classical conditioning as originated by Pavlov and elaborated on by Watson and
Guthrie, but he thought this type of conditioning only explained a small portion of
human and animal behavior. He thought that the majority of response by humans does
not result from obvious stimuli. The notion of reinforcement had been introduced by
Thorndike, and Skinner developed this idea much further.
Historical Background of Operant Conditioning
Although the term “operant conditioning” was coined by B.F. Skinner in the
1930s, it actually has its roots much further back. In 1905 (only two years after Pavlov
presented his first paper on classical conditioning), Edward Thorndike published
his famous Law of Effect. This law basically says that behaviors that have good
consequences will happen again in the future, while those that have bad consequences
will be less likely to happen again. Despite the fact that the Law of Effect really sums
up operant conditioning quite well, Skinner expanded so much upon Thorndike’s work
that it is sometimes called Skinnerian conditioning (it is also sometimes called
instrumental conditioning), and Skinner is widely referred to as the father of operant
Edward Lee Thorndike was an American psychologist studying animal learning
while a graduate student at Harvard University in the late 1890's. He was especially
interested in how animals learn to engage in new behaviors that are instrumental in
solving problems, such as escaping from a confined space. The instrumental character
of behavior in changing an animals' circumstances led to refer to Thorndike's form of
learning as instrumental learning, although Thorndike preferred to describe it as “trial
and success” learning. These behavioral processes were renamed operant conditioning
by a much later researcher, B.F. Skinner (Skinner, 1938), who was also interested in
how such skills “operate upon environments” (hence his more descriptive term
“operant”) to bring about significant consequences for the individual.
Thorndike designed many ingenious experiments into study such behavior. In
one series of investigations Thorndike placed hungry cats into an apparatus called a
puzzle box, from which the animals learned to escape to obtain rewards of food. At first
Thorndike's cats seemed to behave almost randomly, using trial and error to find their
way out of the puzzle box. Thorndike graphed the time it took an animal to escape from
the puzzle box for each successive trial he gave the animal. He quickly discovered that
the time for escape gradually declined over several repeated trials, with each successive
trial typically taking less and less time. He called this a learning curve and proposed
that the slope of this curve reflected the rate at which learning occurred. From such
studies Thorndike proposed his Law of Effect, which states that if successful behaviors
in a trial and error situation are followed by pleasurable consequences, those behaviors
become strengthened, or “stamped in” and will thus be more quickly performed in
future trials (Thorndike, 1898).
As noted above, in order to study the problem-solving behavior of cats using
trial and error procedures, Thorndike developed a special puzzle box apparatus.
Various forms of puzzle boxes were constructed, but a typical one was a wooden cage
equipped with a door held by a weighted loop of string holding, and a pedal, and a bar.
A cat had to press the pedal, pull the string, and then push the bar to unlatch the door to
the box. This allowed the animal to then escape from the box and obtain food as a
The term instrumental conditioning is used to describe Thorndike's procedures
for animal learning because the term ties behaviors to the generation of their
consequences in learning-that is, the behavior is instrumental in obtaining important
consequential outcomes in the environment. Thorndike's procedures involved what
many refer to as “trial and error” procedures. For example, when Thorndike placed a
hungry cat into his puzzle box, the cat would produce many behaviors in its attempts to
escape the confinement. Eventually, the animal would produce the correct behavior
quite by chance, usually clawing a string and then stepping on a pedal to open the door.
This correct behavior had consequences because Thorndike would leave a plate of food
just outside the box that the cat would eat from once it escaped. Thorndike's Law of
Effect proposed that such rewards strengthened the behaviors that obtained the reward,
thus making that behavior more quickly performed with fewer errors on future trials.
Thorndike's Law of Effect took two forms, the “strong” form and the “weak”
form. Food as consequences represented the strong or behavioral strengthening, form.
The “weak” side of the Law of Effect describes what happens when a behavior fails to
accomplish such pleasurable consequences, thus leading to a weakened, or “stamped
out” impulse to behave in a similar fashion in similar situations in the future.
Thorndike's studies were among the first to demonstrate and precisely measure the
power of consequences in the environment (especially rewards) and their ability to
control behavior, and thus Thorndike's work laid the foundation for the subsequent
development of a more behavioral perspective on the learning process i.e., operant
Another American Psychologist working at Harvard, B. F. Skinner, also studied
the behavior of animals with a focus on consequences. Although Skinner's work came
much later than that of Thorndike (Skinner began his work on operant conditioning in
the 1930s), his research was based on the principles Thorndike had identified. Skinner
(1938) believed that in order to understand psychology you had to focus only on
observable behaviors.
Because observable behaviors and the role environment plays in developing and
controlling those behaviors are the focus of operant conditioning, Skinner and the field
of operant conditioning is often considered to represent the most radical form of the
perspective on learning called “behaviorism.” .Through his research, Skinner's radical
behaviorism (1938) identified variables and formalized procedures using those
variables in a conceptualization to learning called “operant conditioning.” This term
comes from Skinner's emphasis on the fact that behaviors operate (thus being an
“operant”) on the environment in order to gain certain consequential stimuli and to
avoid others. Skinner's operant conditioning is founded on Thorndikes' instrumental
conditioning, but Operant Conditioning involves a wider variety of processes and labels
consequences quite differently.
B. F. Skinner’s theory is based on operant conditioning. The organism is in the
process of “operating” on the environment, which in ordinary terms means it is
bouncing around its world, doing what it does. During this “operating,” the organism
encounters a special kind of stimulus, called a reinforcing stimulus, or simply a
reinforcer. This special stimulus has the effect of increasing the operant -- that is, the
behavior occurring just before the reinforce. This is operant conditioning: “the behavior
is followed by a consequence, and the nature of the consequence modifies the
organism’s tendency to repeat the behavior in the future.
Skinner conducted research on shaping behavior through positive and negative
reinforcement and demonstrated operant conditioning, a behavior modification
technique which he developed in contrast with classical conditioning. His idea of the
behavior modification technique was to put the subject on a program with steps. The
steps would be setting goals which would help you determine how the subject would be
changed by following the steps. The program design is designing a program that will
help the subject to reach the desired state. Then implementation and evaluation which is
putting the program to use and then evaluating the effectiveness of it.
Basic Assumptions of Skinner's Theory of Learning
1. Assumption about the Universe: Skinner holds that the universe operates in
mechanistic terms. He views the scheme of things as orderly, regular,
predictable and hence controllable. Furthermore, Skinner in his book Science
and Human Behaviour believes that the only objective basis for evaluating
cultural practices as a whole is their survival value for culture. But then, he
says, “humans do not really choose survival as a basic value, it is just that our
past has so conditioned us that we do tend to seek the survival of our
culture.” The only way to arrive at a true theory of the universe is through
empirical study. He rejects any kind of metaphysical dualism because it is
unobservable. Skinner in his novel, Walden Two gave a description of a utopian
community in which a planned, systematic, reinforcement contingencies can
maximize opportunities for social survival. He based such plan on the fact that
human are malleable, therefore behavioral engineering is the only viable
solution to foster behavior that are both personally and socially advantageous.
2. Assumption about Human Nature: Skinner assumes that man like any other
organisms, is simply a complex machine or a more developed “model” of the
lower animals, thus devoid of free will and consequently not responsible for
what he/she does. Skinner rejects inner mental causes of behavior. Such entities
as desires, intentions, decisions and inherited tendencies according to him, have
nothing to do with influencing behavior because they are not only unobservable,
but because they are of no explanatory value. He rejects the traditional view of
an autonomous man with the capacity for internal drives and forces, such as
perceiving, knowing, aggression, attention, and industry.
He asserts that all animal and human behavior is a function of
environmental variables. Humans are primarily the product of the environmental
histories, and the present existing circumstances. Though he agreed that each
person inherits a genetic structure that yields both general characteristics of the
human species and unique characteristics of the individual. Skinner devoted less
emphasis on these inborn propensities or innate determinants. Skinner explains
away this inner propensities by saying that the genetic endowment of humans does
determine that certain conditions will be reinforcing.
In the Technology of Teaching, Skinner describes how reinforcement is used with
pigeons as well as any organisms, including humans:
“Once we have arranged the particular type of consequence called a
reinforcement, our technique permits us to shape the behavior of an
organism almost at will....Simply by presenting food to a hungry pigeon at
the right time, it is possible to shape three or four well-defined responses in
a single demonstration period - such responses as turning around, pacing
the floor in the pattern of a figure eight, standing still in a corner of the
demonstration apparatus, stretching the necks or stamping the foot.... In all
this work, the species of the organism has made surprisingly little
difference.... Comparable results have been obtained with pigeons, dogs,
monkeys, human children, and psychotic subjects (emphasis mine)
Skinner furthers notes that “a scientific analysis of behavior disposes autonomous
man and turns the control he has been said to exert over to the environment.... He is
henceforth to be controlled by the world around him.”
Operant Conditioning Theory of Learning – An Introduction
Operant conditioning refers to a kind of learning process where a response is
made more probable or more frequent by reinforcement. It helps in the learning of
operant behavior, the behavior that is not necessarily associated with a known stimuli.
It is a form of psychological learning where an individual modifies the occurrence and
form of its own behavior due to the association of the behavior with a stimulus. Operant
conditioning is distinguished from classical conditioning (also called respondent
conditioning) in that operant conditioning deals with the modification of “voluntary
behavior” or operant behavior. Operant behavior “operates” on the environment and is
maintained by its consequences, while classical conditioning deals with the
conditioning of reflexive (reflex) behaviors which are elicited by antecedent conditions.
Behaviors conditioned via a classical conditioning procedure are not maintained by
Like classical conditioning, operant conditioning is the process of forming
associations between two things. However, while classical conditioning forms a direct
and reflexive association between two stimuli, operant conditioning works by forming
an association between a voluntary behavior and the subsequent consequences. In other
words, the dog learns that his behavior causes stuff to happen, so he either repeats it or
avoids it in the future. Although classical conditioning creates an automatic response,
operant conditioning implies that the dog thinks about his behavior, and then
deliberately and voluntarily acts in his own best interest. It is called “operant”
conditioning because the dog is operating on the environment (the technical terms for
“doing stuff”).
Operant conditioning is a form of behaviour modification which is used to
either decrease or increase the likelihood that a particular behaviour will occur. Operant
conditioning relies on two basic assumptions about human experience and psychology:
A particular act results in an experience that is a consequence of that act, and
The perceived quality of an act's consequence affects future behaviour.
The process works on the idea that organisms respond to stimuli, and that if
they can be taught to associate a specific stimulus with a particular behaviour, they will
be more likely to engage in or avoid the behaviour, depending on the type of stimulus
involved. Operant conditioning is a form of learning in which an animal or human
learns an association between a behaviour and a significant event. An operant learning
sequence has three components, an antecedent, a behaviour and a consequence. The
antecedent is the (stimulus) cue or command that signals a subject to perform a
behaviour. The behaviour is what the subject does. The consequence is what happens
after the behaviour occurs, be it reward or punishment. The nature of the consequence
modifies the organism's tendency to repeat the behaviour in the future. The 3-term
model of operant conditioning (S RS) incorporates the concept that responses
cannot occur without an environmental event (an antecedent stimulus) preceding it.
While the antecedent stimulus in operant conditioning does not elicit or cause the
response, it can influence it. When the antecedent does influence the likelihood of a
response occurring, it is technically called a discriminative stimulus. It is the stimulus
that follows a voluntary response (i.e., the response's consequence) that changes the
probability of whether the response is likely or unlikely to occur again. There are two
types of consequences: positive (sometimes called pleasant) and negative (sometimes
called aversive). These can be added to or taken away from the environment in order to
change the probability of a given response occurring again.
Briefly speaking, in classical conditioning, the two stimuli- artificial and natural
occur independently of anything the subject has done. However, there is another
process in which unconditioned stimulus does not occur unless the organism makes a
specific response defined by the experimenter. Such conditioning is called operant
conditioning by Skinner, who concluded from his experiments that “behavior is shaped
and maintained by its consequences. It is operated by the organism and maintained by
its result.” Operant conditioning is a process of response modification in which the
organism is gradually taken towards the desired behavior by selectively reinforcing
those responses that are closer approximations to the desired behavior. The concept of
reinforcement is central to operant conditioning. (A reinforcer is any stimulus that
increases the probability of the response. +ve reinforcers are stimulus, presentation of
which strengthen the probability of that response. –ve reinforcers are stimulus, the
removal of which strengthens the response). Reinforcement was used by Skinner as a
Operant conditioning Chamber
An operant
procedure for controlling behavior. It is also a connectionist / associationist theory.
chamber (also known as the Skinner
the experimental
behavior to study animal behavior.
box) is a laboratory apparatus used in
The operant conditioning chamber was
created by B. F. Skinner while he was
University (Masters
at Harvard
doctorate in 1931). It is used to study
both operant conditioning and classical conditioning.
An operant conditioning chamber permits experimenters to study behavior
conditioning (training) by teaching a subject animal to perform certain actions (like
pressing a lever) in response to specific stimuli, like a light or sound signal. When the
subject correctly performs the behavior, the chamber mechanism delivers food or
another reward. In some cases, the mechanism delivers a punishment for incorrect or
missing responses. With this apparatus, experimenters perform studies in conditioning
and training through reward/punishment mechanisms.
The structure forming the shell of a chamber is a box large enough to easily
accommodate the organism being used as a subject. It is often sound-proof and lightproof to avoid distracting stimuli. Operant chambers have at least one operandum (or
“manipulandum”), and often two or more, that can automatically detect the occurrence
of a behavioral response or action. Typical operanda for primates and rats are response
levers; if the subject presses the lever, the opposite end moves and closes a switch that
is monitored by a computer or other programmed device. Typical operanda for pigeons
and other birds are response keys with a switch that closes if the bird pecks at the key
with sufficient force. The other minimal requirement of a conditioning chamber is that
it has a means of delivering a primary reinforcer or unconditioned stimulus like food
(usually pellets) or water. It can also register the delivery of a conditioned reinforcer,
such as an LED (see Jackson and Hackenberg 1996 in the Journal of the Experimental
Analysis of Behavior for example) signal as a “token”.
Despite such a simple configuration, one operandum and one feeder, it is
possible to investigate many psychological phenomena. Modern operant conditioning
chambers typically have many operanda, like many response levers, two or more
feeders, and a variety of devices capable of generating many stimuli, including lights,
sounds, music, figures, and drawings. Some configurations use an LCD panel for the
computer generation of a variety of visual stimuli. Operant chambers can also have
electrified nets or floors so that electrical charges can be given to the animals; or lights
of different colors that give information about when the food is available. Although the
use of shock is not unheard of, approval may be needed in some countries to avoid
unnecessary harmful experimentation on animals. Skinner's work did not focus on
punishment, and involved a “paw slap” which caused him to conclude, incorrectly, that
punishment was ineffective. Works by Azrin, Sidman and others in the 1960s and
1970s showed this was not the case.
Skinner’s Experiments Regarding Operant Conditioning
B.F Skinner conducted a series of experiment with animals. For conducting the
experiments with rats, he designed a special apparatus known as Skinner’s Box. It was
a much modified form of the puzzle box used by Thorndike for his experiments with
cats. The darken sound proof box mainly consists of a grid floor, a system of light or
sound produced at the time of delivering a pallet of food in the food cup, a lever and a
food cup. It is arranged so that when a rat (hungry or thirsty) presses the lever the
feeder mechanism is activated, a light or a special sound is produced and a small pallet
of food or small drops of water is released into the food cup. For recording the
observation of the experiments, the lever is connected with a recorder system which
produces a graphical tracing of the lever pressing against the length of the time the rat
is in box.
Figure: A rat being operantly conditioned to press a lever
To begin with, Skinner, in one of his experiments, placed a hungry rat in the
box. In this experiment pressing of the bar in a desirable way by the rat could result in
the production of a click- sound acted as a cue or signal indicating to the rat if it
respond by going to the food cup, it will be rewarded. The rat was rewarded for each of
his proper attempts for pressing the lever. The lever press response having been a
rewarded, was repeated and when it occurred, it was again rewarded which further
increased the probability of the repetition of the lever press response and so on. In this
way ultimately the rat learned the act of pressing the lever as desired by the
For doing experiments with pigeons Skinner made use of another specific
apparatus called ‘pigeon
box’. A pigeon in this
experiment had to peck at
mounted on the wall at
subsequently rewarded by
receiving grain. With the
Skinner put forward his
help of such experiments,
conditioning for learning
responses like pressing of
Figure: Skinner’s Box as adapted for the Pigeon
the lever but also for learning the most difficult and complex series of responses
pressing of the lever or latch but also for learning the most difficult and complex series
of responses.
Although classified and included in the category of conditioning, operant
conditioning differs a lot from the classical conditioning advocated by Watson and
Pavlov. The most outstanding difference lies in the order related with the initiation and
response i.e. stimulus response mechanism. In classical conditioning the organism is
passive. It must wait for something to happen for responding. The presence of a
stimulus for evoking a response is essential. The behavior can not be emitted in the
absence of a cause. The child expresses fear when he hears a loud noise; the dog waits
for food to arrive before salivating. In each of such instances, the subject has no control
over the happening. He is made to behave in response to the stimulus situations. Thus,
the behavior is said to be initiated by the environment, the organism simply responds.
Skinner revolted against ‘no stimulus no response’ mechanism in the evolution
of behavior. He argued that in practical situation in our life we can not wait for things
to happen in the environment. Man is not a victim of the environment. He may often
manipulate the things in the environment with his own initiative. Therefore, it is not
always essential that there must be some known stimulus or causes of evoking a
response. Quite often, most of our responses could not be attributed to the known
stimuli. The organism itself initiates the behavior. A dog, a child, or an individual
‘does” something ‘behaves’ in some manner, it ‘operates’ on the environment and in
turn environment responds to the activity. How the environment responds to the
activity, rewarding or not, largely determines whether the behavior will be repeated,
maintained or avoided.
From where Skinner got the cue for such ideas is a question that can arise at this
stage. Definitely it was from the studies and observations of an earlier psychologist
named Thorndike. Through his experiments, for propagating his famous trial and error
theory of learning. Thorndike concluded that the rewards of a response (like getting
food after chance success through the randomized movements) lead to the repetition of
an act and the strengthening of S-R associations. These conclusions made Skinner
begin a series of experiments to find the consequences of the rewards in repeating and
maintaining behavior. Based on the findings of his experiments, he concluded that
“behavior is shaped and maintained by its consequences”. It is operated by the
organism and maintained by itself. The occurrence of such behavior was named as
operant behavior and the process of learning, that plays the part in learning such
behavior, was named by him as operant conditioning.
Thus, operant conditioning refers to a kind of learning process whereby a
response is made more probable or more frequent by reinforcement. It helps in learning
of operant behavior, when the behavior is not associated with a known stimulus. Some
refer to this as instrumental conditioning since the behavior of the organism is
instrumental in accomplishing the purpose.
Operant conditioning does not need the provocation of any external stimulus.
The occurrence of operant behavior can however, be influenced by the events in the
events, in particular, by rewards and punishments. Generally, the appearance of an
operant behavior that is followed by desirable consequences will be repeated and that
which is not followed by desirable consequences will not be repeated often. In shaping
the behavior, only those responses that are closer approximations to the desired
behavior are reinforced. The basic principle of Skinnerian conditioning is that the
behavior that is rewarded tends to be repeated. Such rewards for appropriate behavior
are called reinforcers. The concept of selective reinforcement is central to operant
Reflections of Skinner’s Experiments
Skinner enjoyed building mechanical devices to use in his research and he
developed what now are generally referred to as Skinner Boxes. Skinner Boxes are fully
automatic conditioning devices, an animal (usually a rat or pigeon) is placed inside the
box and learns a response — a rat typically presses a lever, a pigeon typically pecks a
key — in order to receive stimuli such as food or water. The lever-press or key-peck
leads to the consequence, however, only when preceded by a light, tone, or other
sensory stimulus. This antecedent stimulus (the stimulus that comes before the
response) indicates that the behavioral response is likely to be followed by a
consequent stimulus (the stimulus that comes after the response). Presentations of the
antecedent stimulus, the recording of responses, and presentations of the consequent
stimulus are all mechanized and, therefore, Skinner and his associates did need not be
present. The general operant-conditioning procedure is illustrated in the following
Figure: The sequence of antecedent stimulus, learned response, and consequent
stimulus in operant conditioning.
In operant conditioning, the learned response is called the operant response. The
pulling of a wire loop in Thorndike's puzzle box and the pressing of a lever in a Skinner
Box are examples of operant responses, they are responses to the antecedent stimulus
and either increase or decrease in frequency over time depending on the nature of the
consequent stimulus. A consequent stimulus that strengthens the operant response it
follows is called reinforcement. The food that Thorndike's cats ate after pulling the wire
loop and the water that Skinner's rats drank after pressing the lever are examples of
reinforcements. A consequent stimulus that weakens the operant response it follows is
called a punishment. Rats that previously learned a lever-press response, for example,
might now receive an electric shock after pressing the lever, which would cause them
to reduce their lever-pressing over time. The electric shock, in this example, would be a
The antecedent stimulus is called the discriminative stimulus, and is defined
as a cue that signals the probable consequence of an operant response — that is, it
signals whether the operant response will be reinforced or punished. In a Skinner Box,
the discriminative stimulus might be a light that, when turned on, indicates that a lever
press is likely to be followed by a reinforcement or punishment. The following Figure
uses these terms to illustrate the general operant-conditioning procedure (compare to
Figure cited above).
Figure: The sequence of discriminative stimulus, operant response, and
reinforcement or
punishment in operant conditioning
Let's look at some more examples of operant conditioning in order to
help you learn how to apply these terms to actual learning situations.
For many people, drinking alcohol or taking cigarette often is followed
by pleasurable feelings or by relief from anxiety. This is an example of operant
conditioning, a voluntary behavior (an operant response) has consequences that lead
either to an increase or decrease in the behavior. In this example, what is the
discriminative stimulus, the operant response, and the consequence (reinforcement or
punishment)? The answers are provided in the Figure cited below:
Figure: The operant conditioning of drinking alcohol
In bungee jumping, a person jumps off a tower (or some other high place) while
connected to elastic cords. Again, this is an example of operant conditioning: a
voluntary behavior has consequences that lead either to an increase or decrease in the
behavior. In this example, what is the discriminative stimulus, the operant response,
and the consequence (reinforcement or punishment)? Think about this example for a
minute before looking at the answers in the below cited Figure.
Figure: The operant conditioning of bungee jumping
The above mentioned diagram shows that there are at least two answers.
In each answer, the discriminative stimulus is the sight of the tower, and it includes any
other stimuli that immediately precede (and trigger) the jump. The operant response
is jumping off the tower. The consequence, however, depends on the person. The
consequence for some people will be reinforcing, whereas for others, it will be
punishing. What is the best way to tell whether it is reinforcing or punishing? The best
way to tell whether it is reinforcing or punishing is to look at what happens to the
operant response over time. We know that the operant response has been reinforced if
the person shows increased bungee-jumping in the future (regardless of what he or she
tells us after the experience). We know that the operant response has been punished if
the person shows decreased bungee-jumping in the future (again, regardless of what he
or she says).Individual differences in what is learned in a particular situation depend
on whether the consequent stimuli are reinforcing or punishing (or neither) for
A variety of factors determine whether a person finds a stimulus to be
reinforcing or punishing: physiological factors, past experiences, one's current mood,
etc. For example, eating food is reinforcing unless one has just finished a very large
meal: in this case, eating more food probably will be punishing. A person who usually
becomes ill when she drinks alcohol will find that doing so is punishing rather than
reinforcing. To repeat, the only way to determine whether an individual is reinforced or
punished by a consequence is to see whether the operant response increases or
decreases in frequency over trials.
reinforcing/punishing effects of consequent stimuli. We know that most people learn to
stop performing behaviors that cause pain because the pain is punishing. For instance,
if you see a pan sitting on top of a red-hot burner on an electric stove, you are unlikely
to touch the inner surface of the pan perhaps because, as a child, you were burned when
you did so. The operant response oftouching the pan was punished by the resulting pain
and, hence, decreased in frequency, most likely very quickly. The below mentioned
diagram illustrates the operant conditioning that led to your not touching the inner
surfaces of hot pans.
Figure: The operant conditioning of touching a hot pan
There is a rare medical condition in which people are born unable to feel
pain (Brownlee, 2006). A person with this problem would be unable to learn to not
touch hot pans because he/she would be unable to feel pain after doing so. Because
there is neither punishment nor reinforcement for touching hot pans, no operant
conditioning can occur. In fact, people with this disorder often suffer serious injuries,
and even death, because they can't be operantly conditioned not to perform behaviors
that result in pain.
Key Concepts Used By Skinner For Bringing Out His Theory Of
Learning − Operant Conditioning
Some of the Key concepts associated with the Theory of operant conditioning
are as under:
 Acclimation or Habituation: The process of gradually getting an animal used
to a situation. By prolonged exposure, the animal becomes accustomed to a
space that it normally would avoid.
 Baseline: The frequency that behavior is performed prior to initiating a
behavior modification program. The rate of performance used to evaluate the
effect of the program. In experimental work, the term is often used to refer to
the control group, which serves as a basis for evaluating data from the
experimental group.
 Bridge: A stimulus that pinpoints in time the precise moment of a desired
response and bridges the gap in time between that point and when the animal
may receive further reward. A signal that is conditioned to be reinforcing
because it is paired with other reinforces which evolves to pinpoint an instant in
time for the animal in training.
 Intermediate bridge signals the animals that at that instant it is on the path to
success, but has not completed the behavior yet.
 Terminal bridge signals the instant at which an animal successfully completes
a requested behavior. The bridge is a stimulus, which signals the delivery of a
reinforcer. Often called a secondary or conditioned reinforcer because it
acquires its effectiveness through a history of being paired with primary
reinforcement, such as food to a hungry animal.
 Conditioned Reinforcer: A stimulus, which has been paired with the elements
of enjoyment. The animal is conditioned to enjoy a stimulus. Examples are
tactile, clickers, playing, playing with toys, and interacting with enrichment
 Cue: A signal, which will elicit a specific behavior or reflex, as a result of a
learned association.
 Desensitization: Actively pairing a positive reinforcer with a negative event
until the negative event loses its ability to influence a behavior. Exposing an
animal to a stimulus using time or experience to drive the stimulus value
towards neutral. A process of changing an animal's perception of an event,
negative or positive, but usually negative, to a neutral perception. Success is
evidenced by the animals lack of response to the event when compared to a
previous baseline.
 Differential Reinforcement: Reinforcing selected responses of higher quality
to improve performance.
 Extinction: Method of eliminating a behavior by not reinforcing it any longer.
This method is most effective when paired with reinforcement of alternative
behavior. Extinction is a procedure where the reinforcement of a previously
reinforced behavior is discontinued. If the animal has no opportunity to engage
in the behavior, then the term extinction is inappropriate. There is a decrease in
frequency of the behavior.
 Generalization: Reinforcement of a specific behavior increases the frequency
of similar behaviors. Generalization is the process of comparing events,
consequences or objects, which have some trait in common and recognizing that
common trait. In training, an animal can be taught to allow a series of specific
people to touch it. Eventually, the animal will let all people pet him, even if they
are strangers.
 Immediacy of Reinforcement: A critical feature of conditioning. The art of
reinforcing, exactly following the behavior, is intended to increase the
frequency of the behavior. If reinforcement is delayed as much as a couple of
seconds, the animal may follow some other behavior.
 Incompatible Behavior: One that interferes with, or cannot be performed at the
time, with another behavior.
 Jackpot or Bonus: A reward that is much bigger than normal reinforcer, and
comes as a surprise to subject.
 Negative Reinforcement: Following an action or response by removing an
unpleasant event, or stimulus, no matter how mild, that the subject wants to
avoid. For example: a loud buzzer, spray from a hose, the side of a restraint
chute moving inward, etc.
 Operant Conditioning: A type of learning in which the probability of a
behavior recurring is increased or decreased by the consequences that follows.
This includes positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and punishment.
 Primary Reinforcer: An event that is naturally reinforcing satisfies biological
drives, and is not dependent on learning. Examples: food, water and sex.
Psychologists define a primary reinforcer as any stimulus that reduces a need or
 Positive Reinforcement: Following an action or response with something the
favored place, etc.
subject wants: food, praise, tactile contact, play, favorite toy, released to a
 Punishment: An unpleasant action whose purpose is to reduce the likelihood
that a behavior will occur again. Occurs after the response, so subject cannot
change the behavior, and give no information about how to change the behavior.
Punishment is not appropriate during the learning stages of a behavior. Potential
risks: it may actually strengthen behavior, such as escalating aggression or
animal may cease undesired behavior but replace it with another undesirable
behavior or animal may learn not to perform behavior in presence of trainer.
Examples: spraying animals with a hose, withholding food or water. Routine
events can be used as punishment such as separating or isolating animals. A
time out is the most appropriate form of punishment to use with primates. The
exception is a life/death situation.
 Negative punishment is the removal of a positive stimulus, something the
animal seeks to encounter, from the animals environment following a response,
thereby decreasing the frequency of that response.
 Positive punishment is addition of an adverse stimulus, something the animal
seeks to avoid, to the animals environment following a response, thereby
decreasing the frequency of that response.
 Reinforcer: A reinforcer is the stimulus, event, or situation that is presented or
otherwise emerges when the response behavior is performed.
 Reinforcement: Anything positive or negative, which occurring in conjunction
with an act, tends to increase the probability that the act will occur again. It is
information that tells the subject what you like or don't like. The consequence
can be either the presentation of a positive reinforcer or the removal of a
negative reinforcer. Reinforcements are relative, not absolute.
 Regression: Deterioration in learning process or performance of a behavior,
usually temporary; a normal part of training process. Also refers to when a
trainer retraces the steps in the shaping process to reinforce lesser levels of
 Response: The actual performance of the behavior. Measures of observed
 Reward: A return for a correct response to a stimulus. The reward can also be a
stimulus that when presented upon the successful performance of a task elicits
within an animal the feeling of satisfaction.
 Stimulus: Anything that causes some kind of behavioral response; a cue or
signal. It can be anything the subject can perceive.
 Stimulus Control: When a trained behavior occurs consistently in response to
an appropriate cue or stimulus. Use a subjective measure of performance by
tracking the response (e.g., 70%, 80%, 90%, 100%).
 Schedules of Reinforcement: Rules that govern the delivery of reinforcement.
 Continuous: Reinforcement is given after every correct response. This is
necessary in learning stage and to maintain invasive or unpleasant behaviors.
 Variable or intermittent: Reinforcing on a random or unpredictable basis.
This may be better for maintaining behavior.
 Selective or differential: Reinforcing selected responses of higher quality to
improve performance.
 Jackpot or bonus: A reward that is much bigger than normal reinforcer, and
comes as a surprise to subject.
 Shaping
Chaining: Successive
approximation is used to condition performance, which is not currently in the
animals repertoire. Building a behavior by dividing it into small increments or
steps and then teaching one step at a time until the desired behavior is achieved.
Steps become a series of intermediate goals. The process of learning a sequence
of behaviors that proceeds semi-automatically in a determined order; the last
comes next.
previous response provides the necessary cue that determines which behavior
 Superstitious Behavior: When training, sometimes you reinforce a behavior
you don't want. Even though there is no intentional connection between the
animal's performance and the reinforcer, there is still an increased in frequency
of the performance. It is an undesired behavior that is unrelated to the desired
behavior, but is accidentally reinforced, and then becomes fixed in the subject's
mind as necessary for reinforcement. Trainer is often unaware that this is being
 Target: A prop, which pinpoints a critical location for an animal in training.
This location may be a body contact point on the stationary animal, it may be a
destination point, or it may be a place where other critical information will
appear. The target can be an extended finger or fist, the end of a pole, a mark on
a wall or a paper, a plaque. Essentially, the trainer and the animal each extend a
target contact point toward the other, meeting in the middle.
 Training: The art of using operant conditioning techniques to obtain desired
 Time Out: A mild form of punishment in which positive reinforcement and/or
opportunity for positive reinforcement is withheld for a brief period of time
immediately following an inappropriate or undesirable response. In essence, the
animal receives no cues from the trainer, but also cannot influence the trainer to
produce a consequence such as food or praise until the “time out” has passed.
All the above listed terms involved in the theory of Operant Conditioning are
summarized with examples in the table below:
Key Concepts In Operant Conditioning
Principles of Operant Conditioning
The main principles of operant conditioning, as defined by Skinner, are
reinforcement, punishment, shaping, extinction, discrimination, and generalization.
These principles are briefly discussed below:
1. Reinforcement: Reinforcement is a term in operant conditioning and behavior
analysis for the process of increasing the rate or probability of a behavior (e.g.,
pulling a lever more frequently) in the form of a “response” by the delivery or
emergence of a stimulus (e.g. a candy) immediately or shortly after performing
the behavior. The response strength is assessed by measuring frequency,
duration, latency, accuracy, and/or persistence of the response after
reinforcement stops. Experimental behavior analysts measured the rate of
responses as a primary demonstration of learning and performance in nonhumans (e.g., the number of times a pigeon pecks a key in a 10-minute session).
In short, reinforcement is a consequence that causes a behavior to occur with
greater frequency. In other words it is process in which a behavior is
Primary Reinforcers: A primary reinforcer, sometimes called an
unconditioned reinforcer, is a stimulus that does not require pairing to
function as a reinforcer and most likely has obtained this function through
the evolution and its role in species' survival. Examples of primary
strengthened, and thus, more likely to happen again.
reinforcers include sleep, food, air, water, and sex. Some primary reinforcers,
such as certain drugs, may mimic the effects of other primary reinforcers.
While these primary reinforcers are fairly stable through life and across
individuals, the reinforcing value of different primary reinforcers varies due
to multiple factors (e.g., genetics, experience). Thus, one person may prefer
one type of food while another abhors it. Or one person may eat lots of food
while another eats very little. So even though food is a primary reinforcer for
both individuals, the value of food as a reinforcer differs between them.
Secondary Reinforcers: A secondary reinforcer, sometimes called a
conditioned reinforcer, is a stimulus or situation that has acquired its function
as a reinforcer after pairing with a stimulus that functions as a reinforcer.
This stimulus may be a primary reinforcer or another conditioned reinforcer
(such as money). An example of a secondary reinforcer would be the sound
from a clicker, as used in clicker training. The sound of the clicker has been
associated with praise or treats, and subsequently, the sound of the clicker
may function as a reinforcer. As with primary reinforcers, an organism can
experience satiation and deprivation with secondary reinforcers.
Positive Reinforcement: Positive reinforcement is defined as a reinforcer
that rewards the individual for an action taken. For example, when a child is
rewarded with a special gift for getting good grades on a report card, it is
considered positive reinforcement. It is believed that the presentation of a
positive reinforcer results in an increased likelihood for an individual to
repeat the desired action in the future. This process has been adopted for
anxiety and depression treatment. Positive reinforcement occurs when a
behavior (response) is followed by a stimulus that is appetitive or rewarding,
increasing the frequency of that behavior. In the Skinner box experiment, a
stimulus such as food or sugar solution can be delivered when the rat engages
in a target behavior, such as pressing a lever. e..g., a hungry rat presses a bar
in its cage and receives food. The food is a positive condition for the hungry
rat. The rat presses the bar again, and again receives food. The rat's behavior
of pressing the bar is strengthened by the consequence of receiving food.
Negative Reinforcement (Escape): Negative reinforcement is the attempt to
increase the frequency of a particular behavior by removing an unwanted
condition. For example, many cars include a feature that causes a beeping or
buzzing sound when the driver's seat belt is not buckled. In order to avoid the
annoying noise, the driver is conditioned to buckle up for safety. Negative
reinforcement occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by the removal
of an aversive stimulus, thereby increasing that behavior's frequency. In the
Skinner box experiment, negative reinforcement can be a loud noise
continuously sounding inside the rat's cage until it engages in the target
behavior, such as pressing a lever, upon which the loud noise is removed.
speaking, Negative
Reinforcement a
strengthened by the consequence of stopping or avoiding a negative
condition. Briefly, In Positive Reinforcement a particular behavior is
strengthened by the consequence of experiencing a positive condition. For
“A rat is placed in a cage and immediately receives a mild
electrical shock on its feet. The shock is a negative condition
for the rat. The rat presses a bar and the shock stops. The rat
receives another shock, presses the bar again, and again the
shock stops. The rat's behavior of pressing the bar is
strengthened by the consequence of stopping the shock.”
2. Punishment: The process in which a behavior is weakened, and thus, less likely
to happen again. In operant conditioning, punishment is any change in a human
or animal's surroundings that occurs after a given behavior or response which
reduces the likelihood of that behavior occurring again in the future. As with
reinforcement, it is the behavior, not the animal, that is punished. Whether a
change is or is not punishing is only known by its effect on the rate of the
behavior, not by any “hostile” or aversive features of the change. For example,
painful stimulation which would serve as a punisher in many cases serves to
reinforce some behaviors of the masochist.
Positive Punishment or type I punishment: Positive punishment is
something that is applied to reduce a behavior. The term “positive” often
confuses people, because in common terms “positive” means something
good, upbeat, happy, pleasant, rewarding. Remember, this is technical
terminology we're using, though, so here “positive” means “added” or
“started”. Also keep in mind that in these terms, it is not the animal that is
“punished” (treated badly to pay for some moral wrong), but the behavior
that is “punished” (in other words, reduced). Positive punishment, when
applied correctly, is the most effective way to stop unwanted behaviors. Its
main flaw is that it does not teach specific alternative behaviors. Positive
punishment occurs when the like hood of a certain behavior decreases as the
result of the presentation of something unpleasant after the behavior. e.g., our
society seems to have a great fondness for positive punishment, in spite of all
the problems associated with it (see below). The peeing on the rug (by a
puppy) is punished with a swat of the newspaper. A dog's barking is
punished with a startling squirt of citronella. The driver's speeding results in
a ticket and a fine. The baby's hand is burned when she touches the hot stove.
Walking straight through low doorways is punished with a bonk on the head.
behavior's future occurrences.
Negative Punishment or type II punishment: Negative punishment is
In all of these cases, the consequence (the positive punishment) reduces the
reducing behavior by taking away Something Good. If the animal was
enjoying or depending on Something Good she will work to avoid it getting
taken away. They are less likely to repeat a behavior that results in the loss of
a Good Thing. This type of consequence is a little harder to control. Negative
punishment occurs when the likelihood of a certain behavior decreases as the
result of the removal of something pleasant after the behavior.
Reinforcement and Punishment Comparison
(Behavior Increases)
(Behavior Decreases)
Reinforcement Positive
Something is added to increase Something is added to decrease
(Something is added)
behavior undesired
Ex: Smile and compliment student Ex: Give student detention for failing
on good performance
to follow the class rules
Something is removed to increase
is desired
Ex: Give a free homework pass for
turning in all assignments
Something is removed to decrease
Ex: Make student miss their time in
recess for not following the class
3. Shaping: In simple words, shaping refers to the technique of reinforcement
used to teach new behaviors. At the beginning, people/animals are reinforced
for easy tasks, and then increasingly need to perform more difficult tasks in
order to receive reinforcement. For example, originally the rat is given a food
pellet for one lever press, but we gradually increase the number of times it
needs to press to receive food, the rat will increase the number of presses.
The differential reinforcement of successive approximations, or more
commonly, shaping is a conditioning procedure used primarily in the experimental
analysis of behavior. It was introduced by B.F. Skinner with pigeons and extended to
dogs, dolphins, humans and other species. In shaping, the form of an existing response
is gradually changed across successive trials towards a desired target behavior by
rewarding exact segments of behavior. Skinner's explanation of shaping was this:
We first give the bird food when it turns slightly in the direction of
the spot from any part of the cage. This increases the frequency of such
behavior. We then withhold reinforcement until a slight movement is made
toward the spot. This again alters the general distribution of behavior
without producing a new unit. We continue by reinforcing positions
successively closer to the spot, then by reinforcing only when the head is
moved slightly forward, and finally only when the beak actually makes
contact with the spot. ... The original probability of the response in its final
form is very low; in some cases it may even be zero. In this way we can
build complicated operants which would never appear in the repertoire of
otherwise. By reinforcing a
series of successive
approximations, we bring a rare response to a very high probability in a
short time. ... The total act of turning toward the spot from any point in the
box, walking toward it, raising the head, and striking the spot may seem to
be a functionally coherent unit of behavior; but it is constructed by a
continual process of differential reinforcement from undifferentiated
behavior, just as the sculptor shapes his figure from a lump of clay.
Shaping is used in two areas in psychology: training operant responses
in lab animals, and in applied behavior analysis or behavior modification to
change human or animal behaviors considered to be maladaptive or
dysfunctional. It also plays an important role in commercial animal training.
Shaping assists in “discrimination”, which is the ability to tell the difference
between stimuli that are and are not reinforced, and in “generalization”, which
is the application of a response learned in one situation to a different but similar
4. Extinction: In the operant conditioning paradigm, extinction refers to the
decline of an operant response when it is no longer reinforced in the presence of
its discriminative stimulus. Extinction is observed after withholding of
reinforcement for a previously reinforced behavior which decreases the future
probability of that behavior. For example, a child who climbs under his desk, a
response which has been reinforced by attention, is subsequently ignored until
the attention-seeking behavior no longer occurs. In his autobiography, B.F.
Skinner noted how he accidentally discovered the extinction of an operant
response due to the malfunction of his laboratory equipment:
My first extinction curve showed up by accident. A rat was pressing
the lever in an experiment on satiation when the pellet dispenser jammed. I
was not there at the time, and when I returned I found a beautiful curve.
The rat had gone on pressing although no pellets were received. ... The
change was more orderly than the extinction of a salivary reflex in Pavlov's
setting, and I was terribly excited. It was a Friday afternoon and there was
no one in the laboratory who I could tell. All that weekend I crossed streets
with particular care and avoided all unnecessary risks to protect my
discovery from loss through my accidental death.
When the extinction of a response has occurred, the discriminative
stimulus is then known as an extinction stimulus (SΔ or S-delta). When an Sdelta is present, the reinforcing consequence which characteristically follows a
behavior does not occur. This is the opposite of a discriminative stimulus which
is a signal that reinforcement will occur. For instance, in an operant chamber, if
food pellets are only delivered when a response is emitted in the presence of a
green light, the green light is a discriminative stimulus. If when a red light is
present food will not be delivered, then the red light is an extinction stimulus
(food here is used as an example of a reinforcer).
To be very brief, In Extinction a particular behavior is weakened by the
consequence of not experiencing a positive condition or stopping a negative
condition. For example:
A rat presses a bar in its cage and nothing happens. Neither a positive or
a negative condition exists for the rat. The rat presses the bar again and again
nothing happens. The rat's behavior of pressing the bar is weakened by the
consequence of not experiencing anything positive or stopping anything
5. Behavior modification: Behavior modification is a therapy technique based on
Skinner’s work. It refers to extinguish an undesirable behavior (by removing the
reinforcer) and replace it with a desirable behavior by reinforcement. It has been
used on all sorts of psychological problems − addictions, neuroses, shyness,
autism, even schizophrenia − and works particularly well with children. There
are examples of back-ward psychotics who haven’t communicated with others
for years who have been conditioned to behave themselves in fairly normal
ways, such as eating with a knife and fork, taking care of their own hygiene
needs, dressing themselves, and so on.
6. Generalization: In generalization, a behavior may be performed in more than
one situation. For example, the rat who receives food by pressing one lever
may press a second lever in the cage in hopes that it will receive food.
7. Discrimination: Learning that a behavior will be rewarded in one situation, but
not another. For example, the rat does not receive food from the second lever
Schedules of Reinforcement
and realizes that by pressing the first lever only, he will receive food.
When an animal's surroundings are controlled, its behavior patterns after
reinforcement become predictable, even for very complex behavior patterns. A
schedule of reinforcement is a rule or program that determines how and when the
occurrence of a response will be followed by the delivery of the reinforcer, and
extinction, in which no response is reinforced. Schedules of reinforcement influence
how an instrumental response is learned and how it is maintained by reinforcement.
Between these extremes is intermittent or partial reinforcement where only some
responses are reinforced.
Specific variations of intermittent reinforcement reliably induce specific
patterns of response, irrespective of the species being investigated (including humans in
some conditions). The orderliness and predictability of behavior under schedules of
reinforcement was evidence for B.F. Skinner's claim that by using operant conditioning
he could obtain “control over behavior,” in a way that rendered the theoretical disputes
of contemporary comparative psychology obsolete. The reliability of schedule control
supported the idea that a radical behaviorist experimental analysis of behavior could be
the foundation for a psychology that did not refer to mental or cognitive processes. The
means of controlling or altering behavior.
reliability of schedules also led to the development of applied behavior analysis as a
Many of the simpler possibilities, and some of the more complex ones, were
investigated at great length by Skinner using pigeons, but new schedules continue to be
defined and investigated.
In this sense, the variable schedules are more powerful and result in more
consistent behaviors. This may not be as true for punishment since consistency in the
application is so important, but for all other types of reinforcement they tend to result in
stronger responses
1. Continuous Reinforcement Schedule: It is hundred percent reinforcement
schedules where provision is made to reinforce or reward every correct response
of the organism during acquisition of learning. For example, a student may be
rewarded for every correct answer he gives to questions or problems put by the
2. Fixed Interval Reinforcement Schedule: In this schedule the organism is
rewarded for a response made only after a set of interval of time e.g., every 3
minutes or every 5 minutes. How many times he has given correct response
during this fixed interval of time does not matter, it is only on the expiry of the
fixed interval that he is presented with some reinforcement.
3. Fixed Ratio Reinforcement Schedule: In this schedule the reinforcement is
given after a fixed number of responses. A rat, for example, might be given a
pallet of food after a certain number of level presses. The child solves five sums
and he gets a chocolate.
4. Variable Reinforcement Schedule: when reinforcement is given at varying
intervals of time or after a varying number of responses, it is called a variable
reinforcement schedule. In this case reinforcement is intermittent or irregular.
The individual does not know when he is going to be rewarded and
consequently he remains motivated throughout the learning process in the wait
of reinforcement. For example the card game and gambling, try and try again
slogan, In classroom teaching learning Variable Reinforcement schedule
operates when student is not allowed to reinforce each time he raises his hand to
answer a question, but the more often he raises his hand, the more likely he is to
be called upon by the teacher. Good marks and promotion may come at
unpredictable time.
Other simple schedules: The other samples schedules include:
Differential reinforcement of incompatible behaviour – Used to reduce a
frequent behavior without punishing it by reinforcing an incompatible response.
An example would be reinforcing clapping to reduce nose picking.
Differential reinforcement of other behaviour (DRO) – Also known as
omission training procedures, an instrumental conditioning procedure in which
a positive reinforcer is periodically delivered only if the participant does
something other than the target response. An example would be reinforcing any
hand action other than nose picking.
Differential reinforcement of low response rate (DRL) – Used to encourage
low rates of responding. It is like an interval schedule, except that premature
responses reset the time required between behavior.
 Lab example: DRL10” = a rat is reinforced for the first response after 10
seconds, but if the rat responds earlier than 10 seconds there is no
reinforcement and the rat has to wait 10 seconds from that premature
response without another response before bar pressing will lead to
 Real world example: “If you ask me for a potato chip no more than once
every 10 minutes, I will give it to you. If you ask more often, I will give
Differential reinforcement of high rate (DRH) – Used to increase high rates
of responding. It is like an interval schedule, except that a minimum number of
you none.”
responses are required in the interval in order to receive reinforcement.
 Lab example: DRH10”/15 responses = a rat must press a bar 15 times
within a 10 second increment to get reinforced
 Real world example: “If Lance Armstrong is going to win the Tour de
France he has to pedal x number of times during the y-hour race.”
Fixed time (FT) – Provides reinforcement at a fixed time since the last
reinforcement, irrespective of whether the subject has responded or not. In other
words, it is a non-contingent schedule.
 Lab example: FT 5” = rat gets food every 5” regardless of the behavior.
 Real world example: a person gets an annuity check every month
regardless of behavior between checks
Variable time (VT) – Provides reinforcement at an average variable time since
last reinforcement, regardless of whether the subject has responded or not.
Educational Implication of the theory of Operant Conditioning
Skinner specifically addressed the applications of behaviorism and operant
conditioning to educational practice. He believed that the goal of education was to train
learners in survival skills for self and society. The role of the teacher was to reinforce
behaviors that contributed to survival skills, and extinguish behaviors that did not.
Some of the implications of the theory of operant conditioning are as under:
1. Conditioning study behaviour: Teaching is the arrangement of contingencies
of reinforcement which expedite learning. For effective teaching teacher should
arranged effective contingencies of reinforcement. Example: For Self learning
of a student teacher should reinforce student behaviour through variety of
incentives such as prize, medal, smile, praise, affectionate pating on the back or
by giving higher marks.
2. Conditioning and classroom behaviour: During learning process child acquire
unpleasant experiences also. This unpleasantness becomes conditioned to the
teacher subject and the classroom and learner dislike the subject and a teacher.
Suitable behavioural contingencies, atmosphere of recognition, acceptance,
affection and esteem helps child in approaching teacher and the subject. If
student is not serious in study, teacher make use of negative reinforcement like
showing negligence, criticising student etc. but if student is serious in study,
teacher make use of positive reinforcement like prize, medal, praise and smile.
Example: student having transistor in classroom neglected by the teacher
induged in talking with others for longer time. After long time student asked
teacher till now you are receiving assignments, I will also submit you. Thus
behaviour is conditioned.
Managing Problem Behaviour: Two types of behaviour is seen in the
classroom viz undesired behaviour and problematic behaviour. Operant
conditioning is a behaviour therapy technique that shape students behaviour.
For this teacher should admit positive contingencies like praise, encouragement
etc. for learning. One should not admit negative contingencies. Example
punishment (student will run away from the dull and dreary classes – escape
4. Dealing with anxieties through conditioning: Through conditioning fear,
anxieties, prejudices, attitudes, perceptual meaning develops. Example of
 Signals on the road
 Siren blown during war time
 Child receiving painful injection from a doctor
Anxiety is a generalized fear response. To break the habits of fear,
desensitization techniques should be used by a teacher. Initially teacher should
provide very weak form of conditioned stimulus. Gradually the strength of
stimulus should be increased.
5. Conditioning group behaviour: Conditioning makes entire group learn and
complete change in behaviour is seen due to reinforcement. It breaks undesired
and unsocial behaviour too.
Example: Putting questions or telling lie to teachers will make teachers
annoyed in such circumstances students learn to keep mum in the class. Asking
questions, active participation in class discussion will make the teacher feel
happy – interaction will increase and teaching learning process becomes more
6. Conditioning and Cognitive Processes: Reinforcement is given in different
form, for the progress of knowledge and in the feedback form. When response
is correct positive reinforcement is given.
Example: A student who stands first in the class in the month of January
is rewarded in the month of December. To overcome this Programme
instruction is used. In this subject matter is broken down into steps. Organizing
in logical sequence helps in learning. Each step is build upon the preceding step.
Progress is seen in the process of learning. Immediate reinforcement is given at
each step.
7. Shaping Complex Behaviour: Complex behaviour exists in form of a chain of
small behaviour. Control is required for such kind of behaviour. This extended
form of learning is shaping technique. Smallest Behaviour is controlled at initial
stage. On behalf of different contingencies next order of chain of behaviours is
of shaping complex form of behaviour.
controlled. e.g., Vocabulary in English. Teaching spelling is mainly a process
8. Much of our knowledge of spelling, multiplication table, historical dates, can be
explained in terms of conditioned response.
9. The principle of operant conditioning can be applied to such problems as
teaching arithmetic, spelling, language, science, etc. through the technique of
programmed instruction. Carefully prepared sets of frames are presented
serially. The pupil makes a response to the first frame and is +vely or –vely
reinforced depending upon the correct / incorrect responses. The pupil does not
go ahead if his response is not correct.
10. The task of development of the human personality can be successfully
manipulated through operant conditioning. According to Skinner, “We are what
we have been rewarded for being”. We have developed behaviors, which have
been positively vely reinforced and undeveloped those which have been
negatively reinforced.
11. This theory advocates the avoidance of punishment as punishment only
suppresses the behavior and becomes ineffective in the long run. Hence,
inappropriate behavior is to be ignored if gradual extinction in to occur.
Let Us Sum Up
Operant conditioning is a form of psychological learning where an individual
modifies the occurrence and form of its own behavior due to the association of the
behavior with a stimulus. Operant conditioning is distinguished from classical
conditioning in that operant conditioning deals with the modification of “voluntary
behavior” or operant behavior. Operant behavior “operates” on the environment and is
maintained by its consequences, while classical conditioning deals with the
conditioning of reflexive (reflex) behaviors which are elicited by antecedent conditions.
Behaviors conditioned via a classical conditioning procedure are not maintained by
consequences. Skinner's operant conditioning centers on the idea that learning can be
encouraged when responses are reinforced. He based his assumption on the fact that
the human is an irresponsible “animal”, capable of being controlled by the
Check Your Progress
How are instrumental learning and operant conditioning related?
Why did B. F. Skinner call the type of learning he studied "operant
What is a "Skinner Box" and what is it used for?
How would you define:
 discriminative stimulus in your own words;
 operant response in your own words;
 reinforcement in your own words;
 punishment in your own words.
What is being associated in operant conditioning? How do you know when an
association has formed in operant conditioning?
how would you describe the differences between operant conditioning and
classical conditioning?
What are two examples of operant conditioning that you've experienced
recently? How do individual differences arise in the learning (or not) of operant
Suggested Readings
1. Meier, P., F. Minirth, F. Wichern and D. Ratcliff. (1991). Introduction to
Psychology and Counselling. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,
Stevenson, L. Seven, (1974) Theories of Human Nature. New York: Oxford
Skinner, B. F. (1953). Science and Human Behavior. New York: Macmillan.
Driscoll, M. P. (1994). Psychology of Learning for Instruction. Needham, MA:
Allyn and Bacon.
5. Elmore, R.F.; Peterson, P.L.; McCarthy, S.J. (1996). Restructuring in the
classroom: teaching, learning and school organization. San Francisco, CA,
6. Mc Millan, James H (2001) Classroom assessment: Principles and practice for
effective Instruction Prentice –hall, NJ.
7. Skinner, C.E. (1976), Educational Psychology, forth edition, Prentice –hall, NJ.
8. Chauhan S.S. (1996). “Advanced Educational Psychology”, New Delhi: Vikas
publishing house Pvt. Ltd.
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Lesson Structure
10.0 Introduction
10.1 Objectives
10.2 Meaning of Cognitive Development
10.3 Factors Facilitating Cognitive Development
10.4 Lev Vygotsky’s Views on Cognitive Development
Educational Implications of Vygotsky’s Theory
10.6 Let Us Sum Up
10.0 Introduction
10.8 Suggested Readings
10.7 Check Your Progress
Considerable progress has been made in understanding the development of
various aspects of the human development. The development has been marked as a
continuous process, which is important for the progress of the society as well. In this
lesson we will discuss about one of the important aspect of development i.e. cognitive
development. Understanding the cognitive development of the learners will help you
understand their comprehension, underlying mechanisms and methods to facilitate the
development of cognition. In the present lesson, we will understand cognitive
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development from the viewpoints of the two psychologists one is of Piaget and another by
Vygotsky. Besides, we will discuss the implications of cognitive development for
teachers so that they facilitate cognitive development of their students.
10.1 Objectives
After reading this lesson, you should be able to:
Explain the meaning of cognitive development;
Evaluate the Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development.
10.2 Meaning of Cognitive Development
Development as you understand is both the process of quantitative and qualitative
growth of an individual and which follows the differentiation of capabilities over time. If
we have to understand the development in terms of cognition, then first we have to
understand what is cognition?
Cognition means to perceive, comprehend, and conceive or simply to know, we
can also say that it is a process how an individual perceives the information which is
presented to him/her from the environment. Hence, the cognitive development would then
mean the growth and capability of knowing, comprehending, or understanding over time,
which is facilitated both by maturity and interaction with the environment.
Since an individual has got his/her unique experiences, therefore you will find that
at the same time the same information is perceived, processed and presented in a different
way by different individuals. For example, in the class room, when a teacher teaches
same concept to all the learners in the same way, but the learners will present it
differently. This is because the process of cognition involves the ability to construct
mental images involving thought, reasoning, memory and language and these mental
images are constructed by an individual as the surroundings (the world around) are
observed, understood and internalized as a mental process. Thus every individual has a
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unique model based on a unique process of observation. This is how a leaner learns about
the world around him/her.
Cognitive development is a field of study in neuroscience and psychology
focusing on a child's development in terms of information processing, conceptual
resources, perceptual skill. A large portion of research has gone into understanding how a
child conceptualizes the world as a result different psychologists have proposed different
stages of cognitive development. According to Burner, cognitive development occurs in
three phases-enactive (doing), iconic (object models of pictures) and symbolic (signs and
symbols). For example, for a young child recognizing what an orange means would be
touching or holding or tasting it (enactive mode), later as he grows up seeing pictures of it
or a model of it (iconic model), and still later gradually deciphering the word "orange"
(symbolic mode).
The most important work in the area of cognitive development has been presented
by Jean Piaget who formed his "theory of cognitive development". However, his
description of the general tendencies of cognitive development (e.g., that it moves from
being dependent on actions and perception in infancy to understanding of the more
observable aspects of reality in childhood to capturing the underlying abstract rules and
principles in adolescence is still generally acceptable. Another important name in the area
of cognitive development is Vygotsky. In the later part of the lesson, we will discuss
about the theories proposed by both these psychologists.
10.3 Factors Facilitating Cognitive Development
Factors facilitating cognition are internal readiness, environmental experiences,
social experience and equilibration. For Piaget and other cognitivists such as Wadsworth,
Flavell, Sullivan, etc., the important thing is interactions and equilibration. The key to
cognitive development as it relates to educational practice is the activity of the students,
their opinions on objects, events and other people. While interaction refers to internal
organismic readiness, environmental experience is obtained through physical experiences
or repetition reinforcement, manipulation of things in the environment and logic207
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mathematical experiences. Social interaction relates to cognition through interactive
modes with people where one learns about relationships, concepts, namely cooperation,
competition, cultural mores and practices, etc. Language is the medium of social
experiences (verbal and non-verbal). Equilibration refers to a self-regulatory process ,
assimilation and adaptation where a balance is struck and a new cognition takes place or a
new schema comes into being.
10.4 Lev Vygotsky views on Cognitive Development
Psychologist Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of human learning describes
learning as a social process and the origination of human intelligence in society or
culture. The major theme of Vygotsky’s theoretical framework is that social interaction
plays a fundamental role in the development of cognition.
The major difference between Piaget and Vygotsky were, Piaget believed a child
emphasis in the social setting aiding the learning process.
would learn through their environment quite independently whereas Vygotsky put huge
The first aspect of the theory believed learning takes place at two levels. First,
through interaction with others, and then integrated into the individual’s mental structure.
He believed that every function in the child’s cultural development appears first, on the
social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological)
and then inside the child (intrapsychological).
A second aspect of Vygotsky’s theory is the idea that the potential for cognitive
development is limited to a "zone of proximal development" (ZPD). This "zone" is the
area of exploration for which the student is cognitively prepared, but requires help and
social interaction to fully develop (Briner, 1999). The Zone of Proximal Development
defines skills and abilities that are in the process of developing. The ZPD is the range of
tasks that one cannot yet perform independently, but can accomplish with the help of a
more competent individual. For example, a child might not be able to reach the handle of
the door because of his/her small height, but she can do so while holding her mother’s
hand. Since children are always learning new things it affects the ZPD, the ZPD changes
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as new skills are acquired. This support which is provided by the adults or more
competent individuals to reach the highest level of ZPD is known as scaffolding. Hence,
Scaffolding can be defined as a structure or guidance of a more experienced person which
can be provided in many different ways such as breaking the task down into smaller steps,
providing motivation, and providing feedback about progress as the person progresses. In
the example above, the child’s mother provided assistance to the child. The mother acted
as a scaffold in that situation.
Vygotsky also gave importance to the social interaction of individuals with their
environment for their optimum cognitive development. Assisted learning takes place in
children's zones of proximal development, where they can do new tasks that are within
their capabilities only with a teacher's or peer's assistance, because during assisted
learning, interactional contexts, such as cooperative learning groups, and scaffolding. In
conclusion, theory of cognitive development states that interactions with other people are
essential for maximum cognitive development to occur.
10.5 Educational Implications of Vygotsky’s Theory
Many schools have traditionally held a transmissionist or instructionist model in
which a teacher or lecturer ‘transmits’ information to students. In contrast, Vygotsky’s
theory promotes learning contexts in which students play an active role in learning. Roles
of the teacher and student are therefore shifted, as a teacher should collaborate with his or
her students in order to help facilitate meaning construction in students. Learning
therefore becomes a reciprocal experience for the students and teacher Like every theory,
this theory also has an impact on the various aspects of individual learning. This may be
related to curriculum which is studied, teaching learning methods and on assessment too.
Let us now discuss the impact of the theory on the various aspects of learning.
Curriculum: Since theory asserts that learning takes place through interaction,
therefore it is implied that the curricula should be designed in a way which allows
interaction between learners and learning tasks.
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Instruction: With appropriate adult help, children can often perform tasks that
they are incapable of completing on their own. With this in mind, scaffolding–
where the adult continually adjusts the level of his or her help in response to the
child’s level of performance–is an effective form of teaching. Scaffolding not only
produces immediate results, but also instills the skills necessary for independent
problem solving in the future. Teacher can use cooperative learning techniques for
teaching in the class. It is important also to promote group work which promotes
maximum social interactions among the learners.
Assessment: Most important aspect of learning is assessment. It is important that
the assessment methods must take into account the zone of proximal development
of the learners. What learners can do on their own is their level of actual
development and what they can do with help is their level of potential
development. Two learners might have the same level of actual development, but
given the appropriate help from an adult, one might be able to solve many more
development and the level of potential development.
Use Scaffolding: Always look for the opportunities to use scaffolding when
problems than the other. Assessment methods must target both the level of actual
learners need help. Also, it must be used to help learners to move to a higher level
of skill and knowledge. Encourage learners to practice the skill.
Use skilled peers as teacher: Vygotsky believed that in helping learners the skill,
peers can play a very important role.
Encourage collaborative learning
Assess the ZPD, not the IQ: Like Piaget, Vygotsky didn’t believe that formal,
standardized tests are best way to assess learning rather, he believed that
assessment should focus on determining the learner’s zone of proximal
It is important that learners are provided with socially rich environments in which
they explore knowledge domains with their fellow students, teachers and outside experts.
ICTs can be used to support the learning environment by providing tools for discourse,
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discussions, collaborative writing, and problem-solving, and by providing online support
systems to scaffold students’ evolving understanding and cognitive growth.
10.6 Let Us Sum Up
Cognitive development is a field of study in neuroscience and psychology
focusing on a child's development in terms of information processing, conceptual
resources, perceptual skill. Different psychologists have given their perspectives on how
cognitive development takes place in an individual? In this unit, we have discussed two
perspectives, one given by Piaget and another by Vygotsky. As discussed Piaget have
divided the cognitive development into four stages i.e. sensorimotor, preoperational,
concrete operational and formal operational and all these stages are mandatory for an
individual to complete the cognitive development process. On the other hand, Vygotsky
believed that cognitive development is a social process, in which the environment plays a
very import part. He also believed that through scaffolding the zone of proximal
implications of both the theories as well as their criticism.
development can be attained. In this unit, we have also discussed the educational
10.7 Check Your Progress
1. Define cognitive development in your own words?
2. Discuss the importance of scaffolding for achieving the higher level of ZPD?
3. Discuss the chief characteristics of the formal operational stage as given by
4. Analyze the basis of criticism for the Piaget’s cognitive development theory?
5. What kind of assessment has been suggested by Vygotsky?
6. Differentiate between assimilation and accommodation?
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10.8 Suggested Readings
1. Driscoll, M. P. (1994). Psychology of Learning for Instruction. Needham, MA:
Allyn & Bacon.
2. Crawford, K. (1996) Vygotskian approaches to human development in the
information era. Educational Studies in Mathematics. (31) 43-62.
3. Kozulin, A. and Presseisen, B. Z., (1995). Mediated learning experience and
psychological tools: Vygotskys and Feuersteins perspectives in a study of student
learning. Educational Psychologist, Vol. 30 (2), 67-75
4. Kozulin, A., (2002). Sociocultural theory and the mediated learning experience.
School Psychology International, Sage Publications
5. Kozulin, A., (1998). Psychological tools, a sociocultural approach to education.
Harvard University Press: Cambridge, London, UK
6. Robert E. Slavin (2008). Educational Psychology: Theory and Practice, 9/E
Allyn & Bacon, Copyright: 2009
7. Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind and society: The development of higher mental
processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
8. Wertsch, James V. Sohmer, Richard. (1995). Vygotsky on learning and
development. Human Development. (38 ) 332-37.
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Lesson Structure
11.0 Introduction
11.1 Objectives
11.2 Concept of Intelligence
11.3 Definitions of Intelligence
11.4 Different kinds of Intelligence
11.5 Measurement of Intelligence
11.6 Let Us Sum Up
11.7 Check Your Progress
11.8 Suggested Readings
Intelligence is an important factor that contributes to the success in life, though
it does not imply that a person of high intelligence will always get success. Many
people have misconception about intelligence. Sometimes a student who is regular in
the school and does his homework regularly, teacher thinks that he is very intelligent
student. On the other hand a student, who is aggressive, irregular in the school and not
doing his homework regularly? Then teacher thinks that he is not an intelligent student.
If the intelligence of these two boys are judged, the former may be found to be lower
than the second student, thus for most of the person good behavior and punctuality
stands for high intelligence. But, it is known that good behavior is different from
intelligent behavior. So there is confusion about the meaning and nature of intelligence.
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Motivation in education means inculcating and stimulating interest in learning among
pupils. In this unit, we will discuss about concept of intelligence, concept of
motivation, Guilford theory of intelligence with its implications, Maslow’s theory of
hierarchy of needs and its educational implications.
After reading this lesson, students will be able to know about the following points:
State the concept of intelligence;
Discuss the nature of intelligence; and
Explain the kinds of intelligence.
Concept of Intelligence
Intelligence is a term that is difficult to define, and it can mean many different
things to different people. In fact, it has divided the scientific community for decades
and controversies still rage over its exact definition and form of measurement. In the
popular sense, intelligence is often defined as the general mental ability to learn and
apply knowledge to manipulate your environment, as well as the ability to reason and
have abstract thought. Other definitions of intelligence include adaptability to a new
environment or to changes in the current environment, the ability to evaluate and judge,
the ability to comprehend complex ideas, the capacity for original and productive
thought, the ability to learn quickly and learn from experience and even the ability to
comprehend relationships. A superior ability to interact with the environment and
overcome its challenges is often seen as a sign of intelligence. In this case, the
environment does not just refer to the physical landscape (e.g. mountains, forests) or
the surroundings (eg. school, home, workplace) but also to a person’s social contacts,
such as colleagues, friends and family – or even complete strangers. Intelligence is the
capacity to deal with social situations and to learn new things successfully. It is actually
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the mental capacity or mental energy which enables the individual to handle his
environment concerned with abstract, concrete or social situations successfully.
Most people can agree that intelligence varies between individuals, and that
there exists a continuum of intellectual abilities that can be roughly ordered.
Determining this continuum, however, is extremely difficult. In fact, simply defining
intelligence is hard to do. In 1923, psychologist E.G. Boring defined intelligence to be
"what the tests test." This definition was influential for a time, but we will define
intelligence to be the capacity to acquire and use knowledge. Because intelligence is a
capacity, it cannot be measured directly. It can, however, be measured indirectly
through testing what knowledge an individual has already acquired, as well as by
testing how well an individual can use that knowledge. Of course, different people have
had different opportunities to acquire knowledge, which is where much of the
controversy in this field comes in.
Definitions of Intelligence
There are probably as many definitions of intelligence as there are experts who
study it. Simply put, however, intelligence is the ability to learn about, learn from,
understand, and interact with one’s environment. This general ability consists of a
number of specific abilities, which include:
Adaptability to a new environment or to changes in the current environment
Capacity for knowledge and the ability to acquire it
Capacity for reason and abstract thought
Ability to comprehend relationships
Ability to evaluate and judge
Capacity for original and productive thought
Some of the important definitions of Intelligence are as follows:
Intelligence is the ability to make profitable use of past experiences.- Thorndike
Conscious adaptation to new situation is intelligence.- Ross
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Intelligence is the capacity to think well, to judge well and to be self critical.Binet
According to Terman, a person is intelligent in proportion as he is capable of
abstract thinking.
According to Stoddard, Intelligence is the ability to understand activities,
complexity, adaptiveness to a goal, social value and emergence of originals and
to maintain such activities under conditions that demand a concentration of
energy and resistance to emotional forces.
According to Woodworth, Intelligence is the capacity to deal with novel
situations successfully.
Thus intelligence can be understood in the following manner:
1. It is the capacity to integrate experiences and to meet a new situation
successfully by means of appropriate and adaptive responses of different nature
and type.
2. It is a capacity to perform intellectual tasks by carrying on abstract thinking.
3. It is a capacity to learn new things to the extent one is educable.
4. Intelligence is the capacity to deal with social situations and also to deal with
different types of people to make a successful career.
5. It is a capacity to handle new practical tasks requiring the use of concrete
Different Kinds of Intelligences
Is intelligence one thing (referred to as g)? Many researchers believe it is. Or is
it many things. Some suggestions include the following:
Verbal, numerical, spatial, reasoning, fluency, perceptual speed...
Fluid vs. crystallized (Cattell)...
intrapersonal, interpersonal (Gardner)...
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I’m not big on emphasizing different kinds of intelligence, or on introducing
new kinds. Some things -- street smarts, common sense, and social intelligence, for
example -- are “specializations” of intelligence, just like academic intelligence is.
Other things -- like musical ability or kinesthetic abilities or artistic abilities -- are
talents in their own right, and not new kinds of intelligence. I think our enthusiasm for
egalitarianism leads us to play semantic games, so that everyone can be “intelligent” in
some fashion. The sentiment is pleasant, but by doing this, you eliminate any meaning
intelligence may have had!
Psychologist Howard Gardner has identified the following distinct types of
intelligence in his Multiple Intelligences Theory ("MI Theory") in the book "Frames of
Mind." They are listed here with respect to gifted / talented children.
Linguistic: Children with this kind of intelligence enjoy writing, reading, telling
stories or doing crossword puzzles.
Logical-Mathematical: Children with lots of logical intelligence are interested
in patterns, categories and relationships. They are drawn to arithmetic problems,
strategy games and experiments.
Bodily-Kinesthetic: These kids process knowledge through bodily sensations.
They are often athletic, dancers or good at crafts such as sewing or
Spatial: These children think in images and pictures. They may be fascinated
with mazes or jigsaw puzzles, or spend free time drawing, building with Leggos
or daydreaming.
Musical: Musical children are always singing or drumming to themselves. They
are usually quite aware of sounds others may miss. These kids are often
discriminating listeners.
Interpersonal: Children who are leaders among their peers, who are good at
communicating and who seem to understand others' feelings and motives
possess interpersonal intelligence.
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Intrapersonal: These children may be shy. They are very aware of their own
feelings and are self-motivated.
Intelligence Tests
Originally, all intelligence tests were individual tests; meaning that they were
given in a one-to-one situation. During World War I, however, group tests started to
appear as a mass testing program. Currently, individual tests are administered when
evaluating individuals who are suspected of being either gifted or retarded. Group tests
are used in other situations such as in the education system and in military programs.
Because of the close contact with the examiner involved in individual tests, they may
be more accurate because the examiner is more likely to be able to determine if the
subject is having a bad day. The two most popular individual tests are the StanfordBinet and the Wechsler scales.
There are many different types of intelligence tests, and they all do not measure
the same abilities. Although the tests often have aspects that are related with each other,
one should not expect that scores from one intelligence test that measures a single
factor will be similar to scores on another intelligence test that measures a variety of
factors. Many people are under the false assumption that intelligence tests measure a
person's inborn or biological intelligence. Intelligence tests are based on an individual's
interaction with the environment and never exclusively measure inborn intelligence.
Intelligence tests have been associated with categorizing and stereotyping people.
Additionally, knowledge of one's performance on an intelligence test may affect a
person's aspirations and motivation to obtain goals. Intelligence tests can be culturally
biased against certain groups.
Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales: Consisting of questions and short tasks
arranged from easy to difficult, the Stanford-Binet measures a wide variety of
verbal and nonverbal skills. Its fifteen tests are divided into the following four
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cognitive areas: verbal reasoning (vocabulary, comprehension, absurdities,
verbal relations); quantitative reasoning (math, number series, equation
building); abstract/visual reasoning (pattern analysis, matrices, paper folding
and cutting, copying); and short-term memory (memory for sentences, digits,
and objects, and bead memory). A formula is used to arrive at the intelligence
quotient, or IQ. An IQ of 100 means that the child's chronological and mental
ages match. Traditionally, IQ scores of 90–109 are considered average; scores
below 70 indicate mental retardation. Gifted children achieve scores of 140 or
above. Revised in 1986, the Stanford-Binet intelligence test can be used with
children starting at age two. The test is widely used to assess cognitive
development and often to determine placement in special education classes.
Wechsler Intelligence Scales: The Wechsler intelligence scales are divided
into two sections: verbal and nonverbal, with separate scores for each. Verbal
intelligence, the component most often associated with academic success,
implies the ability to think in abstract terms using either words or mathematical
symbols. Performance intelligence suggests the ability to perceive relationships
and fit separate parts together logically into a whole. The inclusion of the
performance section in the Wechsler scales is especially helpful in assessing the
cognitive ability of children with speech and language disorders or whose first
language is not English. The test can be of particular value to school
psychologists screening for specific learning disabilities because of the number
of specific subtests that make up each section.
Kaufman Assessment Battery For Children: The Kaufman Assessment
Battery for Children (KABC) is an intelligence and achievement test for
children ages 2.5–12.5 years. It consists of 16 subtests, not all of which are used
for every age group. A distinctive feature of the KABC is that it defines
intelligence as problem-solving ability rather than knowledge of facts, which it
considers achievement. This distinction is evident in the test's division into two
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parts—intelligence and achievement—which are scored separately and together.
The test's strong emphasis on memory and lesser attention to verbal expression
are intended to offset cultural disparities between black and white children. In
addition, the test may be given to non-native speakers in their first language and
to hearing impaired children using American Sign Language.
Let Us Sum Up
In this unit we have discussed about the concept of intelligence. Dear students,
intelligence has been defined in different ways, including the abilities for abstract
thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, planning, emotional
intelligence and problem solving. Intelligence is most widely studied in humans, but
has also been observed in animals and plants. Artificial intelligence is the intelligence
of machines or the simulation of intelligence in machines. Numerous definitions of and
hypotheses about intelligence have been proposed since before the twentieth century,
with no consensus reached by scholars. Within the discipline of psychology, various
approaches to human intelligence have been adopted. The psychometric approach is
especially familiar to the general public, as well as being the most researched and by far
Check Your Progress
the most widely used in practical settings.
Discuss in detail the Nature and Meaning of Intelligence?
Give any two definitions of intelligence?
What are the various types of Intelligence?
Write a short note on the measurement of Intelligence?
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Suggested Readings
1. Chiacchia, K. B. "Race and Intelligence." In Encyclopedia of Psychology, 2nd
ed., Bonnie Strickland, ed. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 2001.
2. Ceci, S. J. (1996). On intelligence: a bioecological treatise on intellectual
development. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
3. Sokal, M. M. (ed.) (1987). Psychological testing and American society, 18901930. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick
4. Gardner, H. (1999). Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st
5. Guilford, J. P. (1967). The Nature of Human Intelligence.
6. Sternberg, R. J. and Detterman, D. K. (eds.) (1986). What is Intelligence?
Contemporary Viewpoints on its Nature and Definition.
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Lesson Structure
12.0 Introduction
12.1 Objectives
12.2 Life and Works of Howard Gardner
12.3 Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences
12.5 Educational Implications of Theory
12.6 Let us Sum Up
12.0 Introduction
12.7 Check your Progress
12.8 Suggested Readings
12.4 Basis for Intelligence
I want my children to understand the world, but not just because the world
is fascinating and the human mind is curious. I want them to understand it
so that they will be positioned to make it a better place. Knowledge is not
the same as morality, but we need to understand if we are to avoid past
mistakes and move in productive directions. An important part of that
understanding is knowing who we are and what we can do... Ultimately,
we must synthesize our understandings for ourselves. The performance of
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understanding that try matters are the ones we carry out as human beings
in an imperfect world which we can affect for good or for ill.
(Howard Gardner 1999: 180-181)
Many of us are familiar with three general categories in which people learn: visual
learners, auditory learners, and kinesthetic learners. Beyond these three general
categories, many theories and approaches toward human potential have been developed.
Among them is the theory of multiple intelligences, developed by Howard Gardner, Ph.D
, Professor of Education at Harvard University, USA. Gardner’s early work in psychology
and later in human cognition and human potential led to the development of the initial six
intelligences. Today there are nine intelligences and the possibility of others may
eventually expand the list. These intelligences (or competencies) relate to a person’s
unique aptitude set of capabilities and ways they might prefer to demonstrate intellectual
abilities. In this lesson, an attempt has been made to discuss and evaluate the theory of
multiple intelligences developed by Professor Howard Gardner. His theory of multiple
intelligences has wide spread currency in education. This is due to the appeal of its
abstract mathematic/logical deductive thinking.
12.1 Objectives
suggestion that there are a range of intelligences rather than a single IQ that is based on
After going this lesson, you should be able to:
Discuss in detail the Theory of Multiple Intelligences as propounded by Howard
State the Basis for Intelligence suggested by Howard Gardner; and
Discuss the Educational
Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
12.2 Life and Works of Howard Gardner
Howard Gardner was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1943. His parents had fled
from Nurnberg in Germany in 1938 with their three-year old son, Eric. Just prior to
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Howard Gardner’s birth Eric was killed in a sleighing accident. These two events were
not discussed during Gardner’s childhood, but were to have a very significant impact
upon his thinking and development. The opportunities for risky physical activity were
limited and creative and intellectual pursuits were encouraged. As Howard began to
discover the family’s ‘secret history’ (and Jewish identity) he started to recognize that he
was different both from his parents and from his peers. His parents wanted to send
Howard to Phillips Academy in Andover Massachusetts - but he refused. Instead he went
to a nearby preparatory school in Kingston, Pennsylvania (Wyoming Seminary). Howard
Gardner appears to have embraced the opportunities there and to have elicited the support
and interest of some very able teachers. From there, he went to Harvard University to
study history in readiness for a career in the law. However, he was lucky enough to have
Eric Erikson as a tutor. In Howard Gardner’s words, Erikson probably ‘sealed’ his
ambition to be a scholar. But there were others:
My mind was really opened when I went to Harvard College and had the
opportunity to study under individuals—such as psychoanalyst Eric
Erikson, sociologist David Riesman, and cognitive psychologist Jerome
Bruner—who were creating knowledge about human beings. That helped
me to set on the course of investigating human nature, particularly how
human beings think.
(Howard Gardner quoted by Marge Sherer 1999)
Howard Gardner’s interest in psychology and the social sciences grew and he
graduated in 1965. Howard Gardner then went to work for a brief period with Jerome
Bruner on the famous MACOS Project (‘Man: A course of study’). Bruner’s work,
especially in The Process of Education (1960) was to make a profound impact, and the
questions that the programme asked were to find an echo in Gardner’s subsequent
interests. During this time he began to read the work of Claude Levi-Strauss and Jean
Piaget in more detail. He entered Harvard’s doctoral programme in 1966, and in the
following year became part of the Project Zero research team on arts education (with
which he has remained involved to the present). Howard Gardner completed his PhD in
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1971 (his dissertation was on style sensitivity in children). Alongside his work with
Project Zero, he was a lecturer (1971-1986) and then professor in education (1986- ). His
first major book, The Shattered Mind appeared in 1975. Howard Gardner is currently
Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of
Education and adjunct professor of neurology at the Boston University School of
Project Zero provided an environment in which Howard Gardner could begin to
explore his interest in human cognition. He proceeded in a very different direction to the
dominant discourses associated with Piaget and with psychometric testing. Project Zero
developed as a major research centre for education - and provided an intellectual home
for a significant grouping of researchers. A key moment came with the establishment of
the Project on Human Potential in the late 1970s (funded by Bernard van Leer
Foundation) to ‘assess the state of scientific knowledge concerning human potential and
its realization’. The result was Frames of Mind (1983) Howard Gardner’s first full-length
statement of his theory of multiple intelligences.
12.3 Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Since the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, various theories
about intelligence have been discussed, and many attempts to define and to measure
human intellectual capabilities have been made. In 1983 a researcher and a professor at
Harvard University named Howard Gardner proposed a new view of intelligence that has
been widely embraced since its publication, now being incorporated in school curricula
across the US. In his seminal book Frames of Mind (New York: Basic Books, 1983),
Gardner put forward his “Theory of Multiple Intelligences,” a theory that challenged the
dominant definition of intelligence as limited to mathematical and linguistic abilities
(verbal and computational intelligences). Gardner theorized that rather than just these two
intelligences, a grouping of seven intelligences more accurately accounts for the diversity
of ways in which people acquire and utilize knowledge.
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Howard Gardner’s MI theory (1983, 1999) is an important contribution to
cognitive science and constitutes a
learner-based philosophy which is
“an increasingly popular approach
to characterize the ways in which
developing instruction to respond to
this uniqueness”. Gardner said that
there are many, not just one,
different autonomous intelligence
that result in
understanding, and learning about our world. Gardner defined seven intelligences
including verbal-linguistic, mathematical-logical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic,
musical-rhythmic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. In 1997, Gardner added an eighth
intelligence, the naturalist intelligence, and two years later a ninth intelligence,
existentialist intelligence.
Gardner defines intelligence as "the capacity to solve problems or to fashion
products that are valued in one or more cultural setting". Using biological as well as
cultural research, he formulated a list of nine intelligences. This new outlook on
intelligence differs greatly from the traditional view which usually recognizes only two
intelligences, verbal and computational. The nine intelligences Gardner defines are:
Seven Intelligences
Using the definition of intelligence as “the capacity to solve problems or to
fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural setting” (Gardner& Hatch, 1989),
Gardner used biological as well as cultural research to develop a list of seven
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Gardner’s seven intelligences are:
1. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence -- consists of the ability to detect patterns,
reason deductively and think logically. This intelligence is most often associated
with scientific and mathematical thinking.
2. Linguistic Intelligence – Linguistic intelligence according to Gardner involves
having a mastery of language. This intelligence includes the ability to effectively
manipulate language to express oneself rhetorically or poetically. It also allows
one to use language as a means to remember information.
3. Spatial Intelligence - gives one the ability to manipulate and create mental
images in order to solve problems. This intelligence is not limited to visual
domains-- Gardner notes that spatial intelligence is also formed in blind children.
4. Musical Intelligence -- encompasses the capability to read, recognize,
understand, and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. (Auditory functions
but it is not needed for the knowledge of rhythm.)
are required for a person to develop this intelligence in relation to pitch and tone,
5. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence –it is the ability to use one’s mind/mental
abilities to control one’s bodily movements. This challenges the popular belief
that mental and physical activities are unrelated.
and intentions of others.
6. Interpersonal Intelligence – the ability to understand and discern the feelings
7. Intrapersonal Intelligence--the ability to understand one’s own feelings and
Intrapersonal Intelligence) are separate from each other. Nevertheless, because
of their close association in most cultures, they are often linked together.
Subsequent research and reflection by Howard Gardner and his colleagues
looked at three other intelligences -a naturalist intelligence, a spiritual intelligence
and an existential intelligence. Gardner concluded that the first of these ‘merits
addition to the list of the original seven intelligences’.
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8. Naturalist intelligence- enables human beings to recognize, categorize and draw
upon certain features of the environment. It ‘combines a description of the core
ability with a characterization of the role that many cultures value’. It is the ability
to recognize and classify plants, minerals and animals, including rocks and
grass and all-varieties of flora and fauna. This ability was clearly of value in our
evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in
such roles as botanist or chef. It is also speculated that much of our consumer
society exploits the naturalist intelligences, which can be mobilized in the
discrimination among cars, sneakers, kinds of makeup, and the like.
9. Existential Intelligence: sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about
human existence, such as the meaning of life, why do we die, and how did we get
Like Sternberg’s Triarchic theory, Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence also
suggests that we may find different forms of intelligence in different students, (For
example one student may be strong in math while another may be in language still
some other may be good in music in comparison with his classmates. Gardner, like
Sternberg feels that intelligence is reflected differently in different cultures. Sternberg and
Gardner give us reason to believe that if intelligence is multifaceted, then we are likely to
see intelligent behaviour in many of our students -perhaps all of them, in one way or
another. One may be good in mathematics; another may be exceptionally a creative
art or music.
writer; a third may be skilful in interpersonal relationship and a fourth may have talent in
Gardner hypothesizes that these intelligences usually operate together, and rarely
operate independently. The intelligences, he says, are used simultaneously, usually
complementing one other as we develop skills or solve problems.
For example, a dancer can excel only if s/he has:
Strong Musical Intelligence to understand the rhythm and variations of the
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Interpersonal Intelligence to understand how he can inspire or emotionally
move his audience through his movements,
Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence to provide physical agility and coordination to
execute movements successfully.
Although the intelligences are anatomically separated from each other, Gardner claims
that the seven intelligences very rarely operate independently. Rather, the intelligences
are used concurrently and typically complement each other as individuals develop skills
or solve problems. For example, a dancer can excel in his art only if he has 1) strong
musical intelligence to understand the rhythm and variations of the music, 2)
interpersonal intelligence to understand how he can inspire or emotionally move his
audience through his movements, as well as 3) bodily-kinesthetic intelligence to provide
him with the agility and coordination to complete the movements successfully.
12.4 Basis for Intelligence
Gardner argues that there is both a biological and cultural basis for the multiple
intelligences. Neurobiological research indicates that learning is an outcome of the
modifications in the synaptic connections between cells. Primary elements of different
types of learning are found in particular areas of the brain where corresponding
transformations have occurred. Thus, various types of learning results in synaptic
connections in different areas of the brain. For example, injury to the Broca's area of the
brain will result in the loss of one's ability to verbally communicate using proper syntax.
Nevertheless, this injury will not remove the patient's understanding of correct grammar
and word usage.
In addition to biology, Gardner (1983) argues that culture also plays a large role in
the development of the intelligences. All societies value different types of intelligences.
The cultural value placed upon the ability to perform certain tasks provides the
motivation to become skilled in those areas. Thus, while particular intelligences might be
highly evolved in many people of one culture, those same intelligences might not be as
developed in the individuals of another.
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12.5 Educational
Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Accepting Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences has several implications for
teachers in terms of classroom instruction. The theory states that all nine intelligences are
needed to productively function in society. Teachers, therefore, should think of all
intelligences as equally important. This is in great contrast to traditional education
systems which typically place a strong emphasis on the development and use of verbal
and mathematical intelligences. Thus, the Theory of Multiple Intelligences implies that
educators should recognize and teach to a broader range of talents and skills.
Another implication is that teachers should structure the presentation of material
in a style which engages most or all of the intelligences. For example, when teaching
about the revolutionary war, a teacher can show students battle maps, play revolutionary
war songs, organize a role play of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and
have the students read a novel about life during that period. This kind of presentation not
only excites students about learning, but it also allows a teacher to reinforce the same
material in a variety of ways. By activating a wide assortment of intelligences, teaching in
this manner can facilitate a deeper understanding of the subject material.
Everyone is born possessing the seven intelligences. Nevertheless, all students will come
into the classroom with different sets of developed intelligences. This means that each
child will have his own unique set of intellectual strengths and weaknesses. These sets
determine how easy (or difficult) it is for a student to learn information when it is
presented in a particular manner. This is commonly referred to as a learning style. Many
learning styles can be found within one classroom. Therefore, it is impossible, as well as
impractical, for a teacher to accommodate every lesson to all of the learning styles found
within the classroom. Nevertheless the teacher can show students how to use their more
developed intelligences to assist in the understanding of a subject which normally
employs their weaker intelligences (Lazear, 1992). For example, the teacher can suggest
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that an especially musically intelligent child learn about the revolutionary war by making
up a song about what happened.
12.6 Let Us Sum Up
Howard Gardner viewed intelligence as ‘the capacity to solve problems or to
fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural setting’. Gardner's Theory of
Multiple Intelligences provides a theoretical foundation for recognizing the different
abilities and talents of students. This theory acknowledges that while all students may not
be verbally or mathematically gifted, children may have an expertise in other areas, such
as music, spatial relations, or interpersonal knowledge. Approaching and assessing
learning in this manner allows a wider range of students to successfully participate in
classroom learning.
In essence Howard Gardner argued that he was making two essential claims about
multiple intelligences that the theory is an account of human cognition in its fullness.
Human beings according to Gardner are organisms who possess a basic set of
intelligences. People have a unique blend of intelligences. Howard Gardner argues that
the big challenge facing the deployment of human resources ‘is how to best take
advantage of the uniqueness conferred on us as a species exhibiting several intelligences’.
constructive or destructive use.
These intelligences, according to Howard Gardner, are amoral – they can be put to
12 .7 Check your Progress
1. Define Intelligence. Discuss in detail the Theory of Multiple Intelligences as
propounded by Howard Gardner?
2. State the Basis for Intelligence suggested by Howard Gardner?
3. Discuss in detail the Educational
Theory of Multiple Intelligences?
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12.8 Suggested Readings
1. Bernstein, A.D (1988). Psychology. Houghton Company:
Dallas Campbell, C.Y.
(2002). Psychology. Chicago: Rand McNally.
2. Coon, D., & Mitterer, J. O. (2010). Introduction to psychology: Gateways to mind
and behavior (12th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
3. Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of Mind. New York: Basic Book Inc.
4. Gardner, H. (1991). The unschooled mind: how children think and how schools
should teach. New York: Basic Books Inc.
5. Hilgard, E.R., Atkinson, R.C., and Atkinson, R.L (1971). Introduction to
Psychology.New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc.
6. Lahey, B. (1998). Psychology: An Introduction. McGraw-Hill New York.
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Lesson Structure
13.0 Introduction
13.1 Objectives
13.2 Structure of the Intellect Proposed by J.P. Guilford
13.3 Applications of Guilford’s Structure of Intellect
13.4 Let Us Sum Up
13.5 Check Your Progress
13.6 Suggested Readings
J.P. Guilford (March 07, 1897–November 26, 1987) was an American
psychologist, one of the leading American exponents of factor analysis in the
assessment of personality. He is well remembered for his psychometric studies of
human intelligence and creativity. Guilford was an early proponent of the idea that
intelligence is not a unitary concept. Based on his interest in individual differences, he
explored the multidimensional aspects of the human mind, describing the structure of
the human intellect based on a number of different abilities. His work emphasized that
scores on intelligence tests cannot be taken as a uni-dimensional ranking that some
researchers have argued indicates the superiority of some people, or groups of people,
over others. In particular, Guilford showed that the most creative people may score
lower on a standard IQ test due to their approach to the problems, which generates a
larger number of possible solutions, some of which are original. Guilford's work, thus,
allows for greater appreciation of the diversity of human thinking and abilities, without
attributing different value to different people.
Dear students, after reading this lesson you should be able to :
State the theory of Intelligence propagated by J.P. Guilford;
Explain in detail the Structure of Intellect Model given by Guilford; and
Highlight the various important dimensions of mental processes as suggested by
J.P. Guilford in his Structure of Intellect Model.
Structure of the Intellect Proposed by J.P. Guilford
Building upon the views of L. L. Thurstone, Guilford rejected Charles
Spearman's view that intelligence could be characterized by a single numerical
parameter ("general intelligence factor" or g). He argued that intelligence consists of
numerous intellectual abilities. Guilford proposed a three-dimensional cubical model to
explain his theory of the structure of the intellect. According to this theory, an
individual's performance on an intelligence test can be traced back to the underlying
mental abilities, or "factors" of intelligence. These factors (abilities) were then
organized along three dimensions: operations, content, and products.
Structure of Intellect (SOI) is a theory of human intelligence that was developed
from Dr. J.P. Guilford's work at the University of Southern California. A psychologist
in the U.S. Air Force in mid 1900s, Guilford created his assessment tool to help the Air
Force find pilots who would succeed in the field. Despite other types of screening tests
such as those for IQ and aptitude, 30% of the trainees did not make it through their
vocational training. Upon putting his theories to practice, the attrition rate dropped
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Guildford's assessment was adapted from his theory of multiple intelligence,
which proposed 120 different abilities, extrapolated from his three dimensional model.
Dr. Mary Meeker, at the time a student of Guilford's and a psychologist, saw the
potential of Guilford's work for use in the educational field , and modified his model to
become an assessment and remediation tool for students in the educational system. Her
adapted version (SOI) also showed potential in career counseling and the development
of foundational cognitive skills needed in the workplace. The success of this model has
proved itself. SOI is currently being used in schools and learning clinics in North
America to diagnose and remediate learning disabilities in students, as well as for
enrichment of gifted students. The program is also implemented in employment
training programs and in business and industry. Structure of Intellect's philosophy is
that intelligence is not "fixed", as has been generally supposed. Intellectual abilities can
be taught. With the advent of studies in the plasticity of the brain, researchers have
brought this new awareness into the fields of neuroscience and education. IQ tests have
traditionally been slanted towards measuring a narrow range of abilities. Structure of
Intellect's test measures a wide range of abilities needed for academic success.
Although the ability to pinpoint problem areas is highly valuable, the results would not
be as effective without a corresponding system in place to remediate these areas.
Structure of Intellect's diagnostic test leads directly to remediation by developing
potential learning abilities. The brief classification of all the dimensions as proposed by
Guilford is as under:
Operations (05)
Convergent Thinking
Divergent Thinking
Figural (Auditory and Visual)
Products (06)
1. The Operation Dimension: This consists of five (later six when memory was
separated into recording and retention) kinds of operations or general
intellectual processes:
Cognition: The ability to understand, comprehend, discover, and become
aware of information. The cognition has to do with the ability to perceive
the various items. For example, the cognition of semantic units has to do
with one's ability to recognize words, i.e. one's vocabulary. Cognition of
Contents (05)
behavioral transformations would be the ability to perceive changes in the
expressions of an individual.
Memory: The ability to encode information and recall information. The
Memory has to do with the ability to store and retrieve various kinds of
information. People differ in their abilities to remember not only from other
people, but also among various kinds of information. Some people who are
poor at remembering faces i.e. behavioral units may be excellent at
remembering jokes i.e. semantic transformations.
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Divergent Thinking: The process of generating multiple solutions to a
problem. Divergent Thinking has to do with the ability to access memory.
It refers to the ability to find large numbers of things which fit certain
simple criteria. For example, the ability to divergently produce visual units
includes the ability to list many images which include a circle. Divergence
in behavioral transformations would include the ability to revise stories
about people. Divergence in symbolic implications would include the
ability to list various equations which can be deduced from given
Convergent Thinking: The process of deducing a single solution to a
problem. Convergent Thinking is the search of memory for the single
answer to a question or situation. This area includes most areas of logic
type problem solving. It differs from divergence in the constraint of one
right answer. It seems likely that performance on convergent tasks is
actually the result of divergent production and evaluation, but it is an often
tested for skill, and the one most often associated with IQ.
Evaluation: The process of judging whether an answer is accurate,
consistent, or valid. Evaluation is the ability to make judgments about the
various kinds of information, judgments such as which items are identical
in some way, which items are better, and what qualities are shared by
various items. These three factors combine to identify 150 different skill
areas. It is important to remember that this model was developed as a guide
for a research project to explore the relations among the various categories
and the ability to fit the results of tests into this model. It does not explicitly
show the relationship among the various cells in the matrix.
2. The Content Dimension: This dimension includes the broad areas of
information in which operations are applied. It was divided into four categories;
later five when auditory and visual were separated:
Figural: Information that is non-verbal or pictorial. Later divided into:
Auditory - Information perceived through hearing.
Visual - Information perceived through seeing.
Symbolic: Information perceived as symbols or signs that have no meaning
by themselves; for example, Arabic numerals or the letters of an alphabet.
Semantic: Information perceived in words or sentences, whether oral,
written, or silently in one's mind.
Behavioral: Information perceived as acts of an individual or individuals.
3. The Product Dimension: As the name suggests, this dimension contains results
of applying particular operations to specific contents. There are six kinds of
products, they are:
Unit: Represents a single item of information. Units refer to the ability to
perceive units in a content area. This might be symbolic units such as
words, visual units such as shapes, or behavioral units such as facial
Classes: A set of items that share some attributes.
Relation: Represents a connection between items or variables; may be
linked as opposites or in associations, sequences, or analogies.
System: An organization of items or networks with interacting parts.
Transformation - Changes perspectives, conversions, or mutations to
knowledge; such as reversing the order of letters in a word.
Implication: Predictions, inferences, consequences, or anticipations of
Therefore, according to Guilford there are 5 x 5 x 6 = 150 intellectual abilities
or factors. Each ability stands for a particular operation in a particular content area and
results in a specific product, such as Comprehension of Figural Units or Evaluation of
Semantic Implications. Guilford's original model was composed of 120 components
because he had not separated Figural Content into separate Auditory and Visual
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contents, nor had he separated Memory into Memory Recording and Memory
Retention. When he separated Figural into Auditory and Visual contents, his model
increased to 5 x 5 x 6 = 150 categories. When Guilford separated the Memory
functions, his model finally increased to the final 150 factors (Guilford 1980).
The diagrammatic representation of all these dimensions is as under:
In Guilford's language, it could be said that they simply concentrated on the
cognition of a class of behavioral contents. One implication of this matrix is that most
IQ tests are limited in the areas of ability they assess, often assuming that those who
test well on some of the areas can be expected to do well on all of them. Gardner
(1983) has made the same case in simpler terms in ‘Frames of Mind: The Theory of
Multiple Intelligences’. In which he describes seven types of intelligence: linguistic,
It is useful to consider how these different skills contribute to problem solving
and to look at how these categories fit the activities within organizations. Guilford
suggested that although much of the work on increasing creativity had focused on the
various divergent production skills, there seems to be a strong argument in favor of
focusing upon the various skills related to transformations, which would support the
idea of focusing some attention upon shifts in insight. Interviews with people creative
in various complex technical and artistic disciplines confirm that such skills are a vital
part of their work and source of their creativity.
Applications of Guilford’s Structure of Intellect
Each cell in Guilford’s model corresponds to different types of learning
situations in classrooms. The diversity of the learning situations can be seen in Figure
as the five different types of intellectual operations can interact with the four different
types of information representations which can interact with the six different ways in
which information can be organized for a given task. Guilford’s model clearly shows
that there are many different ways in which one can examine an individual’s
understanding of material in different courses. Educators using traditional approaches
to assess knowledge fail to tap many other aspects of learning that are equally
Guilford’s model helps educators reassess areas of learning that are routinely
being examined and recognize important areas that are being unintentionally ignored.
Majorities of the class assignments require students to recognize relevant information
that they are studying (Cognition), recall the information when needed (Memory), and
apply the information in order to answer a question correctly (Convergent Production).
The students interact primarily with written/verbal words/sentences (Semantic) or
numbers/symbols (Symbolic). They typically respond to details (Units), categories
(Classes), or associations (Relations) when processing the information. The
combination of these categories results in the kind of activities commonly found on
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examinations. It is not until students start to enter higher level business courses and
become deeply involved in case studies, simulation, critiques and business plans that
they are exposed to tasks. By matching experiential activities commonly found in
individual professors’ classrooms i.e. simulations, case studies, plans to corresponding
cells in Guilford’s model, one can clearly identify the various types of learning actually
taking place in different courses. Many activities involve the use of convergent thinking
rather than divergent or evaluative thinking. Many researches have found that
individuals who possess well developed divergent thinking abilities have a greater
tendency to suggest innovative ideas while Involved in their jobs.
College students may be rarely exposed to activities that require them to
transform existing information or make implications, yet they are expected to
demonstrate that ability when making projections or providing strategies in the business
world. Collegiate courses also rarely provide students with feedback regarding their
behavioral presentation of information when speaking in front of a group. The
preceding exposition reveals the diagnostic power afforded by the SI model: by
analyzing what he or she does, an educator may discover over- or under-emphasis on
certain, critical intellectual process development. It can also be used to suggest
alternative representations of information or their organization to broaden the array of
educational vehicles conceivable. Guilford’s SI model clearly provides for a much
more comprehensive framework than does Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Let Us Sum Up
In this unit we have discussed about the concept of intelligence, Guilford theory
of intelligence with its implications, Intelligence is the capacity to integrate experiences
and to meet a new situation successfully by means of appropriate and adaptive
responses. J.P. Guilford originated his theory of structure of intellectual model.
According to him, every mental process or intellectual activity has three dimensionsContent, Product, and Process. Guilford’s model helps educators reassess areas of
learning that are routinely being examined and recognize important areas that are being
unintentionally ignored. It can also be used to suggest alternative representations of
information or their organization to broaden the array of educational vehicles
Check Your Progress
1. Discuss in detail the model of intellect as advocated by J.P. Guilford?
2. Write a short note on the following dimensions associated with J.P. Guilford:
Operation Dimensions;
Content Dimensions and
Product Dimensions.
3. What are the applications of Guilford model of Intellect?
Suggested Readings
Comrey, A. L. (1993). Joy Paul Guilford 1897-1987 (pp. 199-210). In
Biographical Memoirs V. 62. National Academy of Sciences: Washington, D.C.
Guilford, J. P, (1967), The Nature of intelligence, New York,NY: McGraw Hill
Book Company
Guilford, J. p, (1977), Way beyond the IQ, Buffalo, NY, Creative Education
Foundation, Inc.
Guilford, J.P. (1982). Cognitive psychology's ambiguities: Some suggested
remedies. Psychological Review, 89, 48-59.
Fancher, Raymond E. (1985). Intelligence Men: Makers of the IQ Controversy.
New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Li, Rex. 1996 (ed.). A Theory of Conceptual Intelligence: Thinking, Learning,
Creativity, and Giftedness. Westport: Praeger.
Sternberg, Robert J. (1994). Encyclopedia of Human Intelligence. Macmillan
Publishing Company.
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Lesson Structure
14.0 Introduction
14.1 Objectives
14.2 Concept of Personality
14.3 How Different Thinkers View Personality
14.4 Determinants of Personality
14.5 Let Us Sum Up
14.6 Check Your Progress
14.7 Suggested Readings
14.0 Introduction
You often recognize that people behave in a different way in the same situation. If
there is assignment to be completed then, some woke up last moment and stay awake
whole night, some prepare systematically, some are very nervous and some relaxed and
calm, some do prepare at all and still enjoy, and some experiences blankness at the last
moment. These differences between the people are due to different ways people react to
same situation. This can be considered as personality. People differ from each other and
this is known as individual differences. Personality is an important dimension of
individual differences. For more than 150 years personality has been the area of interest
for psychology. This lesson would provide an understanding of different personality
theories, particularly the theories known as trait theories. Personality can be considered as
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sum-total of who you are – emotions, attitudes, motives, and behaviour. No two people
are same because they have different personality.
14.1 Objectives
After studying this lesson you should be able to:
Explain the concept of personality;
Describe the biological and socio-cultural determinants of personality; and
Explore the new developments in understanding the concept of personality.
14.2 Nature And Meaning of Personality
We usually judge by the physical appearance of the person and try to understand
the personality of the person. In laypersons language, we describe others as short
tempered, cool, strong, dumb, clever, etc. We also talk about the character of the person
in terms of good natured, ethical and spiritual etc. Indeed, we should not confuse between
personality and similar sounding terms like character, temperament, etc. Personality is
unique and relatively stable way in which people feel, think, and behave throughout the
Character is a value judgement about person’s moral and ethical actions.
Temperament refers to enduring characteristics a person is born with.
Individual is not born with a total personality but over the time develops the
personality. The trait dispositions individual is born with is understood as temperament.
Gordon Allport’s famous definitions of personality states, “Personality is the dynamic
organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his
unique adjustments to the environment.” The term personality has been derived from the
Latin word ‘Persona’ that was associated with Greek theatre in ancient times. The mask,
worn by the actors, was called persona. According to the concept of mask, personality
was thought to be the effect and influence which the individual wearing a mask left in the
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audience. Following definitions and view points will explain the concept of personality in
a broader perspective.
Different views about personality:
1. Personality as stimulus. Some psychologists define personality in terms of
its social stimulus value. How an individual affects other persons, with whom
he comes in contact, whether he is impressive or repulsive has he dominating
or submissive personality.
2. Summative approach. It emphasizes on the importance of sum total of
different processes and activities of the individual, e.g., innate dispositions,
habits, impulses and emotions.
3. Integrative approach. “Personality is the integrative organization of all the
cognitive, affective, cognitive and physical characteristics of an individual as
it manifests itself in focal distinction from others” (Warren’s Dictionary)
4. Totality view.
A man’s personality is the total picture of his organized
consistent way.
behaviour, especially, as it can be characterized by his fellowmen in a
Mark Sherman in his book, Personality: Inquiry and
Application (1979) has defined personality as, “the characteristic pattern of
behaviors, cognition and emotion which may be experienced by the individual
and/or manifest to others.”
5. Personality as adjustment. Personality is an individual’s characteristic
pattern of behaviour. Individual, through his continuous reactions, attempts to
adjust himself in his environment.
Thus we see that different approaches have been made to define personality but
there is no agreement on a single definition of personality. Though there is diversity of
views but even then all psychologists agree on certain common basic characteristics.
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14.3 Personality − How Thinkers View it?
1. Watson. “personality is the sum of activities that can be discovered by actual
observations over a long enough period of time to give reliable information”
2. R. S. Woodworth.
“Personality is the quality of the individual’s total
3. Allport. “Personality is the dynamic organization within the individual of
those psychophysical systems that determine his unique adjustment to
4. R. B. Cattel. “Personality is that which permits a prediction of what a person
will do in a given situation.”
5. Eysenk. “Personality is the more or less stable and enduing organisation of a
person’s character, temperament, intellect and physique, which determine his
unique adjustment to the environment.”
Over the years, as the science of personality has grown up, our understanding of
personality has changed. There are hundreds of researchers who have contributed to
personality theories. But we can broadly categorize these theories into four broad
perspectives: Psychoanalytic, Behavioristic, Humanistic, and Trait.
Psychoanalysis is a theory given by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). Freud thought
that mind is divided into three parts. The conscious, the preconscious and the
unconscious. According to Freud, personality can be divided into three parts. They
dynamically interact with each other. They are: Id, Ego, and Superego. Freud also
theorized stages of psychosexual development. These stages are Oral, Anal,
Phallic, Latency, and Genital. The Freudian theory of personality as well as
system of therapy is called as Psychoanalysis. Those who followed broad
framework of Freud and developed their own theories of psychoanalysis are called
as Neo-Freudians. Some of the important Neo-Freudian theorists are Jung, Adler,
Horney, Erickson, Sullivan, Fromm, etc.
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Behaviourists explain human personality as a set of learned responses that
become automatic with practice or habits. The behaviour shown by human beings
is a function of reward or positive reinforcement. The behaviour that is not seen is
a function of punishment or negative reinforcement. The personality is a function
of various schedules of reward and punishment the individual is getting from
Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Approach is a learning explanation of
personality. The Social Cognitive theories include cognitive process like attention,
perception, memory, judgment, imitation, in addition to social learning principles.
Bandura is well-known for the "Bobo Doll experiment".
The humanistic perspective has a conviction in the indispensable goodness and
respect of humankind. It has developed from existential-humanistic philosophy
and existential psychology that believes in understanding, acceptance, and taking
responsibility for one’s own existence. Abraham Maslow and Carl Roger are
pioneers of this approach to understanding personality. While giving importance
to the uniqueness everybody has, they focused on subjective feelings, and freedom
of choice. Major aspects of humanism are: focus on here and now, responsibility
of self lies with self, inherent worth of individual by virtue of being human, and
strive for personal growth. It has also lead to the development of the
psychotherapeutic principles like empathy, genuineness, unconditional positive
regards, etc. Rogers has defined Fully Functional Person who are aware of their
abilities and traits, and do trust their one intuitions and innermost inspirations.
Biological approach to personality has also focused on the behavior genetics,
twin studies, family studies, etc.
The cultural approach is becoming most popular approach to personality. For
example, Geert Hofstede (1980, 2001) proposed five cultural dimensions of
personality. They are Power Distance, Uncertainty Avoidance, Individualism,
Masculinity and Long Term Orientation. He studied data from 64 countries and
concluded about these dimensions.
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Thus we can conclude the following points about personality:
1. Personality is something unique and specific. No two individuals behave in
precisely the same way over any period of time.
2. The main characteristic of personality is self-consciousness.
The man is
described as a person or to have a personality when the idea of self enters into
his consciousness.
3. Personality includes everything about a person. It includes all the behaviour
patterns, i.e., conative, cognitive and affective and covers not only conscious
activities but goes deeper into semi-conscious and unconscious also.
4. It is an organisation of some psychophysical systems or some behaviour
characteristics and functions as a unified whole.
5. Personality is not static, it is dynamic and ever in process of change and
modification. One has to struggle with the environmental as well as the inner
forces throughout the span of his life.
6. Every personality is the product of heredity and environment. Bot contribute
significantly towards the development of the child’s personality.
7. Learning and acquisition of experiences contribute towards growth and
development of personality. Every personality is the end product of this
process of learning and acquisition.
8. Personality of an individual is unique. It can not be the carbon copy of
9. Personality determines the adjustment of an individual to his/her environment
which is both social as well as physical.
10. Every human being possesses personality. It is related to one's consciousness
about himself /herself.
11. Personality includes all the dimensions of an individual - physical, mental,
moral, emotional and social.
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12. Personality is determined by heredity (inherent capital) which determines
physique, to same extent health and even certain other traits as well as
environment which include opportunities, influence, experience, etc.
13. Personality is not merely a cluster of traits but it is an organization of psychophysical systems.
14. Personality determines the adjustment of an individual to his/her
15. Personality of an individual aims towards certain end or goal.
Indeed this short and concise explanation of the term has a wide meaning. It
draws a beautiful portrait of an individual’s totality. It may be understood to mean as the
sum total of one’s way of behaving towards oneself and others as well. it also predicts
one’s nature of behaviour as how one will behave in a particular situation and one’s
pattern of adjustment to the ever-changing forces of environment.
14.4 Determinants of Personality
Personality development does not take place in vacuum. Several factors within the
individual and outside of him influence and shape his personality. We can classify these
factors into two groups – biological and socio-cultural.
A. Biological Factors: The biological factors affecting personality are the following:
1. The ductless glands. They secrete hormones and their secretion is responsible
for growth and changes in personality. If they secrete in a normal way, it
results in normal growth of personality.
Their over-secretion or under-
secretion causes various kinds of personality deformities. A brief description
of them is given below:
a. Pancreas. It sends insulin to the body. When there is deficiency of
insulin, the mental powers are weakened and personality of the
individual seems less balanced. The person’s mood is changed and
temperament becomes irritated.
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b. Thyroid. It produces thyroxin. It maintains the rate of body
metabolism. Its excessive secretion produces various distortions of
personality, i.e., rapid physical growth, tension, irritation and
instability. Its inadequate secretion produces dwarfness, dullness of
intelligence and retardation in bodily growth.
c. Adrenal. It produces two hormones, i.e., adrenaline and cortin. The
excess of adrenaline produces rapid heart beat and high blood
pressure. It under-secretion results in weakness and lethargy in the
body. The excess of cortin results in exaggerated masculinity. A boy
of 3 or 4 years of age may show the physical and sexual maturity of 18
years old.
d. Gonads.
They exert great influence on the sexual life of the
If they are overactive, they will make the individual
oversexed. On the other hand if they are under-active, the sex urge
becomes weak.
e. Pituitary glands. It is also called master gland. It controls other
glands. Its over-activity results in giantess and muscular vigour. Its
under-activity results in impaired growth and sluggishness.
2. The physique: It refers to one’s height, weight, physical features, body build,
proportion etc. These factors affect one’s attitude towards oneself and others.
Persons with fair complexion and relatively thin structure enjoy an advantage
over their ugly and bulky associates. Tall persons enjoy an advantage over
short ones. Dwarf and bulky person may develop a feeling of inferiority. A
person with attractive physical appearances is liked by others. They like to
associate with him. It helps to create a feeling of self-confidence in him. On
the other hand a squint in the eye, snub nose, deafness etc. may cause shyness,
reserved nature or inferiority complex in the person. A person with any or
some of these defects finds it difficult to mix with others. It hampers his
social development. Similarly an ailing or unhealthy person is more likely to
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react emotionally than rationally. This type of behaviour is not liked by the
people. As such he has to face adjustment problems.
B. Socio − Cultural Determinants: Personality develops and blossoms in sociocultural environment. The socio-cultural environment consists of social codes or
social norms. He has to adopt the code of conduct prescribed by the society and
fashion himself according to the cultural pattern of that society. Various agencies
are responsible for moulding and developing his personality. A brief description
of these agencies is given below:
1. Family.
It is the primary agency of development of personality of the
individual. It is here that the child is initiated into social set-up. The child
spends the first 5 or 6 years exclusively in the family. This period is the most
crucial stage in the child’s development. Development of child’s personality
depends upon the conditions prevailing in the homes and the parent-child
relationship existing there.
2. School. Next to home, school is another agency which is responsible for the
development of personality of the child. It is in the school that children learn
to adjust to large groups of people. A good school, besides developing the
child socially, emotionally, educationally and mentally, develops in him a
broader outlook of life. If the school provides a rich balanced curriculum, it it
provides adequate recreational facilities and if there is competent supervision,
vice versa.
these things influence the personality of the individual in a positive way. And
3. Neighborhood. Neighborhood also casts a great influence on the individual’s
personality. The child interacts with the members of the neighborhood. They
values they cherish, the attitudes they possess, the type of education they
receive, the educational institutions they attend, the type of occupation they
engage in – all these things directly of indirectly affect the personality of the
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C. Cultural Determinants.
Culture determines the nature and form of inter-
personal relation, attitudes and behaviour of the members of a particular society.
The way the child is handled in the family is also dependent on the culture. Since
cultural values change from society to society, the personality of different
individuals brought up in different societies differ from one another.
personality is the mirror or image of culture.
14.5 Let Us Sum Up
In this lesson we discussed that personality is a comprehensive term with a wide
scope that includes all the dimensions of an individual-physical, mental, social and
emotional. It is a dynamic concept. Every individual has a unique personality. There are
different theories for defining personality and its development. Development of various
aspects of personality occurs through well-defined stages that occur in well-defined
sequences. At the end of the lesson, we explained the determinants of personality both
biological and socio-cultural determinants.
14.6 Check Your Progress
1. Explain the nature and meaning of personality?
2. Discuss the biological and social − cultural determinants of personality?
3. Explain in detail the various perspectives of personality? Critically evaluate their
relevance in educational settings ?
14.7 Suggested Readings
1. Chauhan, S.S. (1996). "Advanced Educational Psychology". New Delhi: Vikas
Publishing House
2. Kaplan, P.S. (1990). "Educational Psychology for Tomorrow's Teachers". New
York: West Publishing Co.
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Mangal, S, K. (1996). "The Learner Nature and Development".
Tandon Publications
4. Seifert, K. L. (1991). "Educational Psychology" New York: Houghton Miffin co.
5. Skinner, C.E. (ed.) (1996). "Educational Psychology". New Delhi: Prentice Hall
of India.
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Lesson Structure
15.0 Introduction
15.1 Objectives
15.2 Concept of Trait
15.3 Allport’s Theory of Personality
15.4 Educational Implications of Allport’s Theory of Personality
15.5 Cattell’s Theory of Personality
15.6 Educational Implications of Cattell’s Theory of Personality
15.7 Eysenk’s Theory of Personality
15.8 Educational Implications of Eysenk’s Theory of Personality
15.10 Let Us Sum Up
15.9 Recent Development on Personality
15.11 Check Your Progress
15.12 Suggested Readings
So far we have discussed some approaches to understand personality. In this
lesson we are going to explore Trait Perspective towards understanding of the personality.
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The trait perspective has been one of the most popular approaches in personality research.
It is also well researched area of personality. The cultural personality theory is another
interesting development in this area. In addition to this approach, we are going to discuss
the assessment of personality.
15.1 Objectives
After studying this lesson you should be able to,
Define the concept of trait;
Explain the Allport’s theory of Personality;
Discuss in detail the theory of personality given by R.B, Cattell;;
Discuss the Eysenk’s theory of personality; and
Describe the latest developments in understanding the concept of
15.2 Definition of Trait
Trait is defined as consistent, continuing and habitual patterns of behaviour,
thought, and feelings. Traits remain fairly stable over time. Individuals differ on the level
of traits (some individuals are anxious whereas some are calm). Trait theorist tries to
describe the behavior instead of explaining the developmental account. Trait theorists
have shown interest in the assessment of traits. These trait descriptions can be then
utilized to predict the behaviour. Some of the important trait theorists are Allport, Cattell,
Eysenck, and Five-Factor Model theorists.
15.3 Allport’s Theory of Personality
G. B. Allport (1897 – 1967) was the first personality theorist who adopted trait
approach. According to Allport personality traits are the basic units of the structure of
our personality. Allport tried to search for these basic units of human behaviour. His
conception and research on trait approach to personality had great influence on
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psychologists. He has conceived that traits have real and vital existence. He defined trait,
“as a generalized and focalized neuro-psychic system with the capacity to render many
stimuli functionally equivalent and to initiate and guide consistent forms of adaptive and
expressive behaviour.”
Gordon Allport’s theory was among the early attempts to study traits. That’s the
reason he is considered as a father of modern personality theory. He considered traits as
dispositions. He considered opportunistic functioning and propriate functioning as basic
levels of functioning. Propriate functioning is consisted of proactive, future-oriented, and
psychological aspects. Proprium is an essential concept of personality theory describing
the self. The functional and phenomenological are two aspects of the proprium.
Phenomenological means the way the self is experienced. The self is composed of
essential (vs incidental or accidental), warm (“precious,” vs emotionally cool), and central
(vs peripheral) aspects. The functional part of proprium consists of seven functions. They
are Sense of body, Self-identity, Self-esteem, Self-extension, Self-image, Rational
coping, and Propriate striving.
Traits and Dispositions:
Along with the development of proprium, personality trait or personal dispositions
also develop. Allport defines the personal deposition as “a generalized neuropsychic
structure (peculiar to the individual), with the capacity to render many stimuli
functionally equivalent, and to initiate and guide consistent forms of adaptive and stylistic
behavior.” Allport can be considered as a pioneer of “lexical approach”. He realized that
every culture identifies as and names the dispositions and traits. Lexical approach tries to
investigate natural language for the trait descriptions. He scanned 18,000 traits names
from dictionary and brought them down to 4500. This is done by eliminating the
synonyms and antonyms. He further reduced them to 200.
He classified traits into three categories. Cardinal traits, central traits, and
secondary traits. Cardinal trait dominantly determines individual’s behaviour. These are
major theme of personality. These traits govern and persons complete life. We often
understand and recognize individuals specifically for these traits. They constitute
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fundamental aspect of the individual’s personality structure. Allport suggested that
cardinal traits are rare and tend to develop later in life.
Central traits are some specific traits that prevail in individual’s personality.
They are found to some extend in every person. These basically shape most of our
behaviour. They are common characteristics that constitute the basic structure of
personality. The central traits are not as dominating as cardinal traits. But they are the
most important constituents of the personality. They are the important descriptors which
we use to describe the person. Honesty, timid, dutiful, and anxiety are considered central
traits. Every one of us to some extent is anxious…right? So it is a central trait.
Secondary traits are not so obviously consistent and consist of preferences,
attitudes, and situational traits seen only in particular situation.
Secondary Traits: These are the traits that are sometimes related to attitudes or
preferences. They often appear only in certain situations or under specific situations. If
somebody becomes anxious when speaking to strangers or cannot tolerate the anxiety at
competitive match.
Apart from the classification of the traits, psychological maturity and functional
autonomy are two important aspects of Allport’s theory of personality.
Psychological Maturity: A well developed proprium along with the sufficient
adaptive dispositions the individual can achieve a state which is called as psychological
maturity. Allport has given certain characteristics of psychological maturity. Enduring
extensions of self, techniques for warm relating to others, emotional security and selfacceptance, realistic perception, problem-centeredness, self-objectification, and unifying
philosophy of life are the characteristics of psychological maturity.
Functional autonomy: the person experiences freedom of choice and acts freely
and without being dependent. He or she achieves what they wanted to achieve and
experience the freedom to do so.
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15.5 Educational Implications
The teacher can know the traits of a child and help him to develop and
promote those characteristics which are his assets.
Education has to act as a positive intervention mechanism.
It has to
strengthen those traits which are worth while so that the personality of child
It helps in identifying personality profile of a cultural group, thus helping to
find out the national character.
Teacher should designs programme according to the traits of child. Positive
traits should be strengthened and negative traits remedied.
We can depict those traits which are responsible for specific skill. It helps
us in correlating traits with the performance in different aspects of school
achievement. We will be able to identify children who possess initiative and
Cattell’s Theory of Personality
also those who lack initiative and work a plan to create leadership qualities.
Raymond Cattell (1905-1998) has provided a system to the trait personality
theories. This was much neat and compact view of traits. He classified traits into two
categories: source traits and surface traits. Surface Traits refers to personality
characteristics easily visible. Allport’s list of traits can be considered as source traits.
Source traits are basic traits that underlie personality and surface traits.
He utilized a statistical technique called as ‘factor analysis’ to reduce the number
of traits. Factor analysis applied to the numerical data of trait correlations; create groups
of the common and similar traits. He realized that in order to carry out factor analysis, a
comprehensive data is required. In order to get a comprehensive data he used three kinds
of data: L, T and Q.
Life data (L-data), in this method the data is collected from the individual’s
natural, everyday behaviors, assessing the traits, behavior, etc in the real environment.
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Academic performance, behaviors with the friends and party attended, socialization
patterns, etc would be assessed under L data.
Experimental data (T-data) is observation and measurement of behaviours under
controlled experimental conditions in a lab where a subject’s behavior can be objectively
observed and measured.
Questionnaire data (Q-data) are data collected by providing a standard list of
questions to which individual responds. These responses come from self-contemplation
by the individual about behavior, thoughts, and feelings they experience. Internal states
and attitude about self and others were subtly measured by the Q-data which is otherwise
not possible with direct observation of behavior.
Raymond Cattell used the factor analysis to develop the test. He organized the list
into 181 clusters. The subjects were asked to rate people whom they knew on that list.
This data was facto analyzed. Initially, Cattell extracted twelve factors. Then included
four factors additional factors assuming that they have also appeared. As a result he
developed a personality theory that describes human being self in terms of sixteen
personality characteristics which are assumed to be relatively independent of each other.
They are sixteen bipolar source traits according to Cattell. They are listed in the Table 1.
Each trait is theorized on a continuum ranging from low level to high level of that trait.
For example, on a source trait of emotional stability, some people are low on emotional
stability. They would easily feel tense and anxious under situations that are stressful. The
polar opposite is emotionally stable, who are less affected by feelings.
Table 1: Cattell’s sixteen personality factors and their descriptions.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Less Intelligent
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
More Intelligent
by 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Abstractedness Practical
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Straightforward 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
to Conservative
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Source: R. B. Cattell (1973)
Whereas most of the individuals would be somewhere in between and show
moderate emotional stability. Cattell developed a questionnaire measurement of these
traits called as “The Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire” popularly known as
16PF. Fifth edition is now being used.
The Factor analysis is a group of mathematical statistical procedures to reduce the
data in smaller and meaningful units. When faced with large number of variables, the
researcher can reduce their number by grouping them into smaller number of “factors” by
analyzing the relationships between them and then use these groups as variables. This is
usually used to analyze the structure of the personality. The large number of variables
comes from questionnaire measurement. Their factor analysis gives the structure of
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personality. This is most popular method of research in personality psychology. Almost
all trait personality theorists have extensively used “factor analysis” in development and
evaluation of the personality theory. Cattell is a pioneer of these efforts. Now, the factor
analysis had well developed technique. Exploratory and Confirmatory are the two types
of factor analyses that can be carried out. There are many procedures within each of them.
With the availability of statistical packages like R, SAS, SPSS, LISREL, it is much easier
to carry out factor analysis.
Educational implications of Cattell’s Theory of personality
1 The teacher can know the traits of a child and help him to develop and
promote those characteristics which are his assets.
2 Education has to act as a positive intervention mechanism. It has to strengthen
those traits which are worth while so that the personality of child flourishes.
3 It helps identifying personality profile of a cultural group, thus helping to find
out the national character.
4 Teacher should designs programme according to the traits of child. Positive
traits should be strengthened and negative traits remedied.
5 We can depict those traits which are responsible for specific skill. It helps us
in correlating traits with the performance in different aspects of school
6 We will be able to identify children who possess initiative and also those who
lack initiative and work a plan to create leadership qualities.
H. J. Eysenck’s Theory of Personality
Hans J. Eysenck (March 4, 1916 – September 4, 1997) life stitch opposed views
of Cattell and considered 16 personality factors as too large number of factors. He
proposed that number of factors, fundamental dimensions of personality, should be
independent and minimum. He argued that the most of the Cattell’s personality factors are
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not independent and show sizable relationship between them. He also criticized the
decision making procedures in terms of using factor analysis and number of factors. He
also argued for a smaller set of completely independent personality dimensions. He
further argued that the factor analysis may just provide personality dimensions but their
validation cannot be done by using factor analytic techniques. For this purpose,
experimental investigation is required. Figure below shows the Eysenck’s theory.
Initially he proposed two personality dimensions. They are Neuroticism vs.
emotional stability and extraversion vs. introversion. His late analyses revealed that they
are not explaining other variaents in the personality for example apathy, cruelty, etc and
proposed the third dimension of personality, the “psychoticism”. The complete version of
his theory consists of three dimensions of personality. They are Extraversion (E),
Neuroticism (N) and Psychoticism (P) and often acronym PEN model is used. He carried
out large number of experimental and correlational researches on these dimensions. These
dimensions are briefly discussed as:
1. Extroversion-Introversion: According to Eysenckian theory, extraverts are
sociable and impulsive individuals. They like to enjoy parties and have many
friends. They like talking with people, crave for excitement, take chances and act
on the spur of the moment. They are usually carefree, easygoing, optimistic and
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lose their temper quickly. The introverts, the opposite of extraverts, are quiet,
introspective, reserved, serious and somewhat pessimistic. Introverts tend to plan
ahead, dislike excitement, and keep emotions under control.
2. Neuroticism-Emotional Stability: Individuals with high score on Eysenckian
neuroticism (N) are worriers, anxious, moody, depressed, overtly emotional,
maladjusted, touchy and restless. They react in irrational and rigid ways. On the
contrary, the low scorers on neuroticism (N) are calm, relaxed, even-tempered,
carefree, emotionally stable and well adjusted.
3. Psychoticism: The high scorers on psychoticism dimension are solitary,
troublesome, cruel, tough-minded, lacking in feeling, cold, liking odd and unusual
things, lack feeling of guilt and sensitivity to others, non-cooperative, may have
high originality associated with unusualness, and their artistic preference are
towards unusual (H. J. Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975, 1976)
Measurement: Eysenck developed quite a few instruments to measure the three
dimensions of personality. For example, “Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-Revised
(EPQ-R)” and a longer version “Eysenck Personality Profiler (EPP)”. The EPQ has been
utilized in many researches. It has 90 items. It assesses the three broad dimensions of
personality, N, E, and P. It also has a lie scale. The EPQ-R has some problems with
Psychoticism subscale. It has lower reliability and skewed distribution. The gender
differences were also large. So he revised the EPQ and published a version EPQ-R. the
EPQ-R has 100 items including a 21-item lie scale. The shorter version of EPQ-R is also
available. It consists of 48-item (12 per subscale).
The Eysenkian theory has been tested in various cultures. The study carried out by
Barrett and others explored the Eysenckian dimensions across 34 countries including
India. They found support for the Eysenckian theory across cultures. There are many
researches in India that have employed the EPQ-R (e.g., Belhekar, 2008) and has also
been translated into Indian languages (e.g. Marathi EPQ-R, Lodhi, Deo and Belhekar,
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He also developed tool for measuring the personality of children. The Junior
Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (JEPQ) is a instrument that assess the personality in
terms of Eysenckian theory of children. Another important aspect of Eysenck’s
measurement is Lie scale. He added the Lie scale (L) to most of his instruments for
assessing the presumed tendency to give socially desirable responses.
15.9 Educational Implications of Eysenck’s Theory of Personality
1 The child should be developed free from fear. He learns step by step.
2 As far as possible, the child should be kept free from inhibitions.
3 Teacher should deal with children very carefully.
4 Children learn from past experiences.
5 It has stressed the importance of childhood experiences in the development of
personality. Hence the teachers should provide rich experience to the child so
that he develops a healthy personality.
may get their emotional tension released.
6 It also stresses the need of introducing co-curricular activities so that children
15.10 The Recent Developments in the Area of Personality
The Five-Factor Model and the Big-Five model of the personality is a recent
development in the area of personality theory. So we try to understand them a bit.
 The Five Factor Model of Personality (FFM): It is also called as Big-Five
model of personality. The Big-Five and FFM refer to similar traits but there are
differences between them. OCEAN acronym is used to denote them. The Five
Factors are Neuroticism (N), Extraversion (E), and Openness to Experience (O),
Agreeableness (A), and Conscientiousness (C). Thought, initial researchers like
Tupes, Christel, and Norman identified Five Factors; real impetus came form the
work of Goldberg & Saucier and Costa & McCrae. Costa and McCrae have
developed the “NEO-Personality Inventory Revised (NEO-PI-R)” to measure the
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Five-Factors. The FFM has been studied in more than 50 cultures and proved to
be structurally valid and stable across gender (McCrae, et al. 2005). It has also
been studied in India (Maharashtra) by Lodhi, Dev, and Belhekar (2002),
Belhekar (2008). The five factors are as follows:
 Neuroticism: It is an inclination to experience negative emotions. It is
emotional stability at one end and neuroticism (instability) at another. The
people with high N are worrier, anxious, show angry hostility, moody, etc. low
scorers are relaxed, even-tempered, etc.
 Extraversion: It is characterized by experiencing positive emotions. It is a
tendency to seek out stimulation and need to be engaged with the external
world. Extraverts are outgoing, gregarious, sociable and introverts are solitary,
quite, lack energy and activity.
 Openness to Experience: High openness includes imagination, unusual ideas,
aesthetic sensitivity, alertness to inner feelings, preference for variety,
admiration for art, and intellectual curiosity. Low scores tend to be more
conventional and traditional.
 Agreeableness: It is a characterized by being compassionate and cooperative.
High a people are considerate, friendly, generous, helpful, trustworthy, and
willing to share and modify their interests for others. Low A people are sceptical
about others, suspicious, unfriendly, uncooperative and not concerned about
others’ well-being.
 Conscientiousness: It is characterized by self-discipline, achievement striving,
orderliness, deliberation, and dutifulness. Though, this may lead to unhealthy
perfectionism. Low scorers are disorganized, impulsive, and less orderly.
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15.11 Let Us Sum Up
Personality is a comprehensive term with a wide scope that includes all the
dimensions of an individual-physical, mental, social and emotional. It is a dynamic
concept. Every individual has a unique personally. There are different theories for
defining personality and its development. Development of various aspects of
personality occurs through well-defined stages that occur in well-defined sequences.
Personality is assessed through various testing and non-testing techniques." Allport
discussed personality from trait point of view while as Cattell studied personality by
analyzing different data obtained from different sources like L.Q and T data. Eysenk
also discussed personality from his own point of view. According to Eysenck there
are five levels of behavioral organization which are associated with once
Check Your Progress
Define the concept of trait?
Critically evaluate the Allport’s theory of Personality?
Discuss the Cattell’s theory of personality and its relevance in contemporary
Discuss in detail the Eysenk’s theory of personality? State the educational
implications of Eysenk’s theory of personality?
Suggested Readings
1. Hall, C. S., Lindzey, G., & Campbell, J. B. (2007). Theories of Personality, 4Th
Ed. Wiley India Pvt Ltd.
2. Pervin, L. A. (2002). Science of Personality, 2nd Edition. Oxford University
Press. Oxford.
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3. Magnavita, J. J. (2001). Theories of Personality: Contemporary Approaches to
The Science Of Personality. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
4. Cervone, D. & Pervin L. A. (2007). Personality: Theory and Research. New
York: John Wiley and Sons.
Lesson Structure
16.0 Introduction
16.1 Objectives
16.2 Psychoanalysis-An Introduction
16.3 What is Psychoanalysis?
16.4 Major Thinkers Associated with Psychoanalysis
16.5 Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development
16.7 Freud’s Levels of Mental Awareness
16.6 Freud’s Structural and Topographical Models of Personality
16.8 Freud and His Interpretation of Dreams
16.9 Freud on the Concept of Defense Mechanisms
16.10 Applications of Psychoanalysis
16.11 Let Us Sum Up
16.12 Check Your Progress
16.13 Suggested Readings
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Freud, the father of the school of psychoanalysis presented a new dimension in
the field of psychology. The influence of psychoanalysis in terms of the totality of
human behavior including the conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious behavior,
structure of the psyche, the concept of repression, catharsis in the form of revealing the
unconscious, the psycho-sexual development and giving sex its rightful place in the
realm of human behavior will always remain praise-worthy and memorable. In course
of later developments in the psychoanalytical movement an association for the
development of psychoanalysis was formed in 1902. The personalities associated with
this school became famous either by virtue of their efforts in advocating Freud’s point
of view or because of the establishment of their own psychoanalytic systems based
upon their own views. Two systems namely individual psychology established by
Alfred Adler (l870-1937) and analytical psychology established by Carl Jung (1875-
1961) are worthy of note. In these systems, an effort was made to provide some general
urge as a substitute for sex which in their opinion, was given excessive importance by
Freud. The other notable neo-Freudians or rather, neo-Adlerians of the modern age
have been Freud’s daughter Anna, Karen Horney, Harry Stack Sullivan, Erich Fromm,
Erik Erickson and Heinz Hartmann, etc. The efforts of these researchers have led to
modifications in the traditional psychoanalytical approach, particularly in terms of
playing down of the role of sex and stressing the role of society. In this unit, we will
acquaint you with the crux of psychoanalysis. An attempt has been made to highlight
the basic postulates and strength of psychoanalysis in the field of educational
After reading this lesson, you should be able to:
Highlight the meaning of psychoanalysis;
Explain the contribution of psychoanalysis in the field of educational
Discuss the basic postulates of psychoanalysis;
Explain the structural and topographical models of personality as viewed by S.
Freud; and
Applications of Psychoanalysis in the field of Educational Psychology.
Psychoanalysis-An Introduction
Psychoanalysis is a tradition of psychotherapy developed in the late 19th and
early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis expanded,
criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former
associates, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav Jung, and later by neo-Freudians such
as Erich Fromm, Karen Horney and Harry Stack Sullivan.
Under the broad umbrella of psychoanalysis there are at least 22 theoretical
orientations regarding human mental development. The various approaches in treatment
called “psychoanalysis” vary as much as the theories do. The term also refers to a
method of studying child development.
Freudian psychoanalysis refers to a specific type of treatment in which the
“analysand” (analytic patient) verbalizes thoughts, including free associations,
fantasies, and dreams, from which the analyst induces the unconscious conflicts
causing the patient's symptoms and character problems, and interprets them for the
patient to create insight for resolution of the problems.
The specifics of the analyst's interventions typically include confronting and
clarifying the patient's pathological defenses, wishes and guilt. Through the analysis of
conflicts, including those contributing to resistance and those involving transference
onto the analyst of distorted reactions, psychoanalytic treatment can hypothesize how
patients unconsciously are their own worst enemies: how unconscious, symbolic
reactions that have been stimulated by experience are causing symptoms.
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Today psychoanalysis is very familiar for the wide public after it has been either
rejected or adulated for a long time. But, as a paradox, the success achieved for
example in the fifth decade, especially in Europe, estranged it from its essence. This
theory developed by Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud, revolutionized psychology
and other aspects of modern thought. Very much the opposite of behaviorism, it
focused on humans' internal workings and proposed a whole new way of explaining
them. The theory developed by Freud was quite extensive and intricate, but the main
principle is that the unconscious is responsible for most thought and behavior in all
people and the disorders of the mentally ill. This powerful force, called the
unconscious, was a revolutionary, new idea -- it was the concept that a great deal
activity within the human psyche resides completely outside of consciousness. This
idea and many of Freud others were extremely controversial, at the time. People
considered them unpleasant, and especially behaviorists considered them objectionable,
since they were at the opposite extreme of studying only what you could observe -- the
ideas dealt with something that, by definition, you could not even be aware of. Still,
Freud's psychoanalytic theory gained a wide following and many of his ideas are
commonly believed by psychologists and the public today.
Psychoanalysis spread everywhere but not only due to the interest incited by its
therapeutical method. It could even say that therapy was shadowed by the virtues of the
applied psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis applied in literature, sociology, anthropology,
ethnology, religion and mythology, incited the interest of a public that had no
inclination towards the clinical realm.
The multitude and complexity of the sources from which we receive today’s
signals about psychoanalysis raise an important issue: psychoanalysis is no longer
clearly defined in the eyes of the wide public. Today nobody knows for sure what
psychoanalysis is and wants. Unfortunately no effort is made in order to clarify this
crucial aspect. So, we must clearly state right from the beginning what psychoanalysis
is. Then we will follow the other steps in order to penetrate the mystery of this strange
What is Psychoanalysis?
Psychoanalysis designates concomitantly three things:
1. A method of mind investigation. And especially of the unconscious mind;
2. A therapy of neurosis inspired from the above method;
3. A new stand alone discipline which is based on the knowledge acquired from
applying the investigation method and clinical experiences.
Consequently there is nothing vague in the definition of psychoanalysis.
Psychoanalysis is a specific mind investigation technique and a therapy inspired from
this investigation. I would say first and foremost therapy in order to emphasize even
more that psychoanalysis implies no speculation, that it is closer to psychotherapy and
farther from philosophy, art or culture in general.
The psychoanalytical science that we were mentioning at the third point comes
to light from Freud's famous study called Totem and Taboo, in which he launches
himself in social and anthropologic analysis relying on the knowledge extracted from
applying psychoanalysis to neurosis therapy.
As mentioned above Sigmund Freud was the founder of psychoanalysis and the
psychodynamic approach to psychology. This school of thought emphasized the
influence of the unconscious mind on behavior. Freud believed that the human mind
was composed of three elements: the Id, the Ego and the Super Ego.
Freud's theories of psychosexual stages, the unconscious, and dream symbolism
remain a popular topic among both psychologists and laypersons, despite the fact that
his work is viewed with skepticism by many today. Many of Freud's observations and
theories were based on clinical cases and case studies, making his findings difficult to
generalize to a larger population. Regardless, Freud's theories changed how we think
about the human mind and behavior and left a lasting mark on psychology and culture.
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Another theorist associated with psychoanalysis is Erik Erikson. Erikson
expanded upon Freud's theories and stressed the importance of growth throughout the
lifespan. Erikson's psychosocial theory of personality remains influential today in our
understanding of human development.
Major Thinkers Associated With Psychoanalysis
Sigmund Freud
Anna Freud
Carl Jung
Let us understand Psychoanalysis from the view points of these three eminent
Sigmund Freud: Freud advanced a theory of personality development that
centered on the effects of the sexual pleasure drive on the individual psyche. At
particular points in the developmental process, he claimed, a single body part is
particularly sensitive to sexual, erotic stimulation. These erogenous zones are
the mouth, the anus, and the genital region. The child's libido centers on
behavior affecting the primary erogenous zone of his age; he cannot focus on
the primary erogenous zone of the next stage without resolving the
developmental conflict of the immediate one.
A child at a given stage of development has certain needs and demands,
such as the need of the infant to nurse. Frustration occurs when these needs are
not met; overindulgence stems from such an ample meeting of these needs that
the child is reluctant to progress beyond the stage. Both frustration and
overindulgence lock some amount of the child's libido permanently into the
stage in which they occur; both result in a fixation. If a child progresses
normally through the stages, resolving each conflict and moving on, then little
libido remains invested in each stage of development. But if he fixates at a
particular stage, the method of obtaining satisfaction which characterized the
stage will dominate and affect his adult personality.
Anna Freud: It seems that every time Freud felt he had his successor picked
out, the nominee would abandon him. At least, that's what happened with Jung
and Adler. In the meantime, though, his daughter Anna was attending lectures,
going through analysis with her father, and generally moving towards a career
as a lay psychoanalyst. She also became his care-taker after he developed
cancer in 1923. She became at very least her father's symbolic successor.
Ego psychology: Unlike Jung and Adler, she remained faithful to the basic
ideas her father developed. However, she was more interested in the
dynamics of the psyche than in its structure, and was particularly fascinated
by the place of the ego in all this. Freud had, after all, spent most of his
efforts on the id and the unconscious side of psychic life. As she rightly
pointed out, the ego is the “seat of observation” from which we observe the
work of the id and the superego and the unconscious generally, and deserves
study in its own right. She is probably best known for her book The Ego and
the Mechanisms of Defense, in which she gives a particularly clear
description of how the defenses work, including some special attention to
adolescents' use of defenses. The defenses section of the chapter on Freud
in this text is based as much on Anna's work as on Sigmund's. This focus on
the ego began a movement in psychoanalytic circles called ego psychology
that today represents, arguably, the majority of Freudians. It takes Freud's
earlier work as a crucial foundation, but extends it into the more ordinary,
practical, day-to-day world of the ego. In this way, Freudian theory can be
applied, not only to psychopathology, but to social and developmental issues
as well. Erik Erikson is the best-known example of an ego psychologist.
Child Psychology: But Anna Freud was not primarily a theoretician. Her
interests were more practical, and most of her energies were devoted to the
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analysis of children and adolescents, and to improving that analysis. Her
father, after all, had focused entirely on adult patients. Although he wrote a
great deal about development, it was from the perspectives of these adults.
What do you do with the child, for whom family crises and traumas and
fixations are present events, not dim recollections? First, the relationship of
the child to the therapist is different. The child's parents are still very much
a part of his or her life, a part the therapist cannot and should not try to
usurp. But neither can the therapist pretend to be just another child rather
than an authority figure. Anna Freud found that the best way to deal with
this “transference problem” was the way that came most naturally: be a
caring adult, not a new playmate, not a substitute parent. Her approach
seems authoritarian by the standards of many modern child therapies, but it
might make more sense. Another problem with analyzing children is that
their symbolic abilities are not as advanced as those of adults. The younger
ones, certainly, may have trouble relating their emotional difficulties
verbally. Even older children are less likely than adults to bury their
problems under complex symbols. After all, the child's problems are hereand-now; there hasn't been much time to build up defenses. So the
problems are close to the surface and tend to be expressed in more direct,
less symbolic, behavioral and emotional terms. Most of her contributions to
the study of personality come out of her work at the Hamstead Child
Therapy Clinic in London, which she helped to set up. Here, she found that
one of the biggest problems was communications among therapists:
Whereas adult problems were communicated by means of traditional labels,
children's problems could not be. Because children's problems are more
immediate, she reconceptualized them in terms of the child's movement
along a developmental time-line. A child keeping pace with most of his or
her peers in terms of eating behaviors, personal hygiene, play styles,
relationships with other children, and so on, could be considered healthy.
When one aspect or another of a child's development seriously lagged
behind the rest, the clinician could assume that there was a problem, and
could communicate the problem by describing the particular lag.
Research: She also influenced research in Freudian psychology. She
standardized the records for children with diagnostic profiles, encouraged
the pooling of observations from multiple analysts, and encouraged longterm studies of development from early childhood through adolescence.
She also led the way in the use of natural experiments, that is, careful
analyses of groups of children who suffered from similar disabilities, such
as blindness, or early traumas, such as wartime loss of parents. The
common criticism of Freudian psychology as having no empirical basis is
true only if “empirical basis” is restricted to laboratory experimentation!
Most of Anna Freud's work is contained within The Writings of Anna Freud,
a seven-volume collection of her books and papers, including The Ego and
the Mechanisms of Defense and her work on the analysis of children and
adolescents. She is a very good writer, doesn't get too technical in most of
her works, and uses many interesting case studies as examples.
Carl Jung: Jung's theory divides the psyche into three parts. The first is the
ego, which Jung identifies with the conscious mind. Closely related is the
personal unconscious, which includes anything which is not presently
conscious, but can be. The personal unconscious is like most people's
understanding of the unconscious in that it includes both memories that are
easily brought to mind and those that have been suppressed for some reason.
But it does not include the instincts that Freud would have it include. But then
Jung adds the part of the psyche that makes his theory stand out from all others:
the collective unconscious. You could call it your “psychic inheritance.” It is the
reservoir of our experiences as a species, a kind of knowledge we are all born
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with. And yet we can never be directly conscious of it. It influences all of our
experiences and behaviors, most especially the emotional ones, but we only
know about it indirectly, by looking at those influences. There are some
experiences that show the effects of the collective unconscious more clearly
than others: The experiences of love at first sight, of deja vu (the feeling that
you've been here before), and the immediate recognition of certain symbols and
the meanings of certain myths, could all be understood as the sudden
conjunction of our outer reality and the inner reality of the collective
unconscious. Grander examples are the creative experiences shared by artists
and musicians all over the world and in all times, or the spiritual experiences of
mystics of all religions, or the parallels in dreams, fantasies, mythologies, fairy
tales, and literature. A nice example that has been greatly discussed recently is
the near-death experience. It seems that many people, of many different cultural
backgrounds, find that they have very similar recollections when they are
brought back from a close encounter with death. They speak of leaving their
bodies, seeing their bodies and the events surrounding them clearly, of being
pulled through a long tunnel towards a bright light, of seeing deceased relatives
or religious figures waiting for them, and of their disappointment at having to
experience death in this fashion.
Archetypes: The contents of the collective unconscious are called
leave this happy scene to return to their bodies. Perhaps we are all “built” to
archetypes. Jung also called them dominants, imagoes, mythological or
primordial images, and a few other names, but archetypes seem to have won
out over these. An archetype is an unlearned tendency to experience things
in a certain way. The archetype has no form of its own, but it acts as an
“organizing principle” on the things we see or do. It works the way that
instincts work in Freud's theory: At first, the baby just wants something to
eat, without knowing what it wants. It has a rather indefinite yearning
which, nevertheless, can be satisfied by some things and not by others.
Later, with experience, the child begins to yearn for something more
specific when it is hungry -- a bottle, a cookie, a cake etc. The archetype is
like a black hole in space: You only know its there by how it draws matter
and light to itself.
The Shadow: Sex and the life instincts in general are, of course, represented
somewhere in Jung's system. They are a part of an archetype called the
shadow. It derives from our prehuman, animal past, when our concerns were
limited to survival and reproduction, and when we weren't self-conscious. It
is the “dark side” of the ego, and the evil that we are capable of is often
stored there. Actually, the shadow is amoral -- neither good nor bad, just
like animals. An animal is capable of tender care for its young and vicious
killing for food, but it doesn't choose to do either. It just does what it does. It
is “innocent.” But from our human perspective, the animal world looks
rather brutal, inhuman, so the shadow becomes something of a garbage can
for the parts of ourselves that we can't quite admit to. Symbols of the
shadow include the snake (as in the Garden of Eden), the dragon, monsters,
and demons. It often guards the entrance to a cave or a pool of water, which
is the collective unconscious. Next time you dream about wrestling with the
devil, it may only be yourself you are wrestling with.
The Persona: The persona represents your public image. The word is,
obviously, related to the word person and personality, and comes from a
Latin word for mask. So the persona is the mask you put on before you
show yourself to the outside world. Although it begins as an archetype, by
the time we are finished realizing it, it is the part of us most distant from the
collective unconscious. At its best, it is just the “good impression” we all
wish to present as we fill the roles society requires of us. But, of course, it
can also be the “false impression” we use to manipulate people's opinions
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and behaviors. And, at its worst, it can be mistaken, even by ourselves, for
our true nature: Sometimes we believe we really are what we pretend to be!
Anima and Animus: A part of our persona is the role of male or female we
must play. For most people that role is determined by their physical gender.
But Jung, like Freud and Adler and others, felt that we are all really bisexual
in nature. When we begin our lives as fetuses, we have undifferentiated sex
organs that only gradually, under the influence of hormones, become male
or female. Likewise, when we begin our social lives as infants, we are
neither male nor female in the social sense. Almost immediately -- as soon
as those pink or blue booties go on -- we come under the influence of
society, which gradually molds us into men and women. In all societies, the
expectations placed on men and women differ, usually based on our
different roles in reproduction, but often involving many details that are
purely traditional. In our society today, we still have many remnants of these
traditional expectations. Women are still expected to be more nurturant and
less aggressive; men are still expected to be strong and to ignore the
emotional side of life. But Jung felt these expectations meant that we had
developed only half of our potential. The anima is the female aspect present
in the collective unconscious of men, and the animus is the male aspect
present in the collective unconscious of women. Together, they are referred
to as syzygy. The anima may be personified as a young girl, very
spontaneous and intuitive, or as a witch, or as the earth mother. It is likely to
be associated with deep emotionality and the force of life itself. The animus
may be personified as a wise old man, a sorcerer, or often a number of
males, and tends to be logical, often rationalistic, even argumentative. The
anima or animus is the archetype through which you communicate with the
collective unconscious generally, and it is important to get into touch with it.
It is also the archetype that is responsible for much of our love life: We are,
as an ancient Greek myth suggests, always looking for our other half, the
half that the Gods took from us, in members of the opposite sex. When we
fall in love at first sight, then we have found someone that “fills” our anima
or animus archetype particularly well!
The Dynamics of the Psyche: So much for the content of the psyche. Now
let's turn to the principles of its operation. Jung gives us three principles,
beginning with the principle of opposites. Every wish immediately suggests
its opposite. If I have a good thought, for example, I cannot help but have in
me somewhere the opposite bad thought. In fact, it is a very basic point: In
order to have a concept of good, you must have a concept of bad, just like
you can't have up without down or black without white. Jung said, this idea
came home to me when I was about eleven. I occasionally tried to help poor
innocent woodland creatures who had been hurt in some way -- often, I'm
afraid, killing them in the process. Once I tried to nurse a baby robin back to
health. But when I picked it up, I was so struck by how light it was that the
thought came to me that I could easily crush it in my hand. Mind you, I
didn't like the idea, but it was undeniably there. According to Jung, it is the
opposition that creates the power (or libido) of the psyche. It is like the two
poles of a battery, or the splitting of an atom. It is the contrast that gives
energy, so that a strong contrast gives strong energy, and a weak contrast
gives weak energy. The second principle is the principle of equivalence. The
energy created from the opposition is “given” to both sides equally. So, Jung
said, when I held that baby bird in my hand, there was energy to go ahead
and try to help it. But there is an equal amount of energy to go ahead and
crush it. I tried to help the bird, so that energy went into the various
behaviors involved in helping it. But what happens to the other energy?
Well, that depends on your attitude towards the wish that you didn't fulfill.
If you acknowledge it, face it, keep it available to the conscious mind, then
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the energy goes towards a general improvement of your psyche. You grow,
in other words. But if you pretend that you never had that evil wish, if you
deny and suppress it, the energy will go towards the development of a
complex. A complex is a pattern of suppressed thoughts and feelings that
cluster -- constellate -- around a theme provided by some archetype. If you
deny ever having thought about crushing the little bird, you might put that
idea into the form offered by the shadow (your “dark side”). Or if a man
denies his emotional side, his emotionality might find its way into the anima
archetype. And so on. Here's where the problem comes: If you pretend all
your life that you are only good, that you don't even have the capacity to lie
and cheat and steal and kill, then all the times when you do good, that other
side of you goes into a complex around the shadow. That complex will
begin to develop a life of its own, and it will haunt you. You might find
yourself having nightmares in which you go around stomping on little baby
birds! If it goes on long enough, the complex may take over, may “possess”
you, and you might wind up with a multiple personality. In the movie The
Three Faces of Eve, Joanne Woodward portrayed a meek, mild woman who
eventually discovered that she went out and partied like crazy on Saturday
nights. She didn't smoke, but found cigarettes in her purse, didn't drink, but
woke up with hangovers, didn't fool around, but found herself in sexy
outfits. Although multiple personality is rare, it does tend to involve these
kinds of black-and-white extremes. The final principle is the principle of
entropy. This is the tendency for oppositions to come together, and so for
energy to decrease, over a person's lifetime. Jung borrowed the idea from
physics, where entropy refers to the tendency of all physical systems to “run
down,” that is, for all energy to become evenly distributed. If you have, for
example, a heat source in one corner of the room, the whole room will
eventually be heated. When we are young, the opposites will tend to be
extreme, and so we tend to have lots of energy. For example, adolescents
tend to exaggerate male-female differences, with boys trying hard to be
macho and girls trying equally hard to be feminine. And so their sexual
activity is invested with great amounts of energy! Plus, adolescents often
swing from one extreme to another, being wild and crazy one minute and
finding religion the next. As we get older, most of us come to be more
comfortable with our different facets. We are a bit less naively idealistic and
recognize that we are all mixtures of good and bad. We are less threatened
by the opposite sex within us and become more androgynous. Even
physically, in old age, men and women become more alike. This process of
rising above our opposites, of seeing both sides of who we are, is called
The Self: The goal of life is to realize the self. The self is an archetype that
represents the transcendence of all opposites, so that every aspect of your
personality is expressed equally. You are then neither and both male and
female, neither and both ego and shadow, neither and both good and bad,
neither and both conscious and unconscious, neither and both an individual
and the whole of creation. And yet, with no oppositions, there is no energy,
and you cease to act. Of course, you no longer need to act. To keep it from
getting too mystical, think of it as a new center, a more balanced position,
for your psyche. When you are young, you focus on the ego and worry
about the trivialities of the persona. When you are older (assuming you have
been developing as you should), you focus a little deeper, on the self, and
become closer to all people, all life, even the universe itself. The selfrealized person is actually less selfish.
Introversion and Extroversion: Jung developed a personality typology
that has become so popular that some people don't realize he did anything
else! It begins with the distinction between introversion and extroversion.
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Introverts are people who prefer their internal world of thoughts, feelings,
fantasies, dreams, and so on, while extroverts prefer the external world of
things and people and activities. The words have become confused with
ideas like shyness and sociability, partially because introverts tend to be shy
and extroverts tend to be sociable. But Jung intended for them to refer more
to whether you (“ego”) more often faced toward the persona and outer
reality, or toward the collective unconscious and its archetypes. In that
sense, the introvert is somewhat more mature than the extrovert. Our
culture, of course, values the extrovert much more. And Jung warned that
we all tend to value our own type most! We now find the introvert-extravert
dimension in several theories, notably Hans Eysenck's, although often
hidden under alternative names such as “sociability” and “surgency.” Until
his death in 1961, Jung wrote extensively o his system of personality
development; however, he did not achieve the same level of influence
within psychology as his mentor Freud. This maybe due in part of the
difficulty of his writing style. Freud was a highly skilled writer with the
ability to communicate difficult concepts both clearly and concisely. In
contrast, Jung’s writing was not as logically structured and could be very
difficult to understand. Jung also tended to deal with concepts form such
diverse and often mystical sources as religion, astrology, and alchemy, all of
which would have been viewed with a jaundiced eye by most of his
professional peers.
Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development
Sigmund Freud is probably the most well known theorist when it comes to the
development of personality. Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development are, like
other stage theories, completed in a predetermined sequence and can result in either
successful completion or a healthy personality or can result in failure, leading to an
unhealthy personality. This theory is probably the best known as well as the most
controversial; as Freud believed that we develop through stages based upon a particular
erogenous zone. During each stage, an unsuccessful completion means that a child
becomes fixated on that particular erogenous zone and either over– or under-indulges
once he or she becomes an adult.
1. The Oral Stage: The oral stage begins at birth, when the oral cavity is the
primary focus of libidal energy. The child, of course, preoccupies himself with
nursing, with the pleasure of sucking and accepting things into the mouth. The
oral character of new baby is active at this stage, whose mother refused to
nurse him on demand or who truncated nursing sessions early, is characterized
by pessimism, envy, suspicion and sarcasm. The overindulged oral character,
whose nursing urges were always and often excessively satisfied, is optimistic,
gullible, and is full of admiration for others around him. The stage culminates in
the primary conflict of weaning, which both deprives the child of the sensory
pleasures of nursing and of the psychological pleasure of being cared for,
mothered, and held. The stage lasts approximately one and one-half years.
2. The Anal Stage: During the anal stage, Freud believed that the primary focus
of the libido was on controlling bladder and bowel movements. The major
conflict at this stage is toilet training--the child has to learn to control his or her
bodily needs. Developing this control leads to a sense of accomplishment and
independence. According to Freud, success at this stage is dependent upon the
way in which parents approach toilet training. Parents who utilize praise and
rewards for using the toilet at the appropriate time encourage positive outcomes
and help children feel capable and productive. Freud believed that positive
experiences during this stage served as the basis for people to become
competent, productive and creative adults. However, not all parents provide the
support and encouragement that children need during this stage. Some parents'
instead punish, ridicule or shame a child for accidents. According to Freud,
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inappropriate parental responses can result in negative outcomes. If parents take
an approach that is too lenient, Freud suggested that an anal-expulsive
personality could develop in which the individual has a messy, wasteful or
destructive personality. If parents are too strict or begin toilet training too early,
Freud believed that an anal-retentive personality develops in which the
individual is stringent, orderly, rigid and obsessive.
3. The Phallic Stage: The phallic stage is the setting for the greatest, most crucial
sexual conflict in Freud's model of development. In this stage, the child's
erogenous zone is the genital region. As the child becomes more interested in
his genitals, and in the genitals of others, conflict arises. The conflict, labeled
the Oedipus complex (The Electra complex in women), involves the child's
unconscious desire to possess the opposite-sexed parent and to eliminate the
same-sexed one. In the young male, the Oedipus conflict stems from his natural
love for his mother, a love which becomes sexual as his libidal energy transfers
from the anal region to his genitals. Unfortunately for the boy, his father stands
in the way of this love. The boy therefore feels aggression and envy towards
this rival, his father, and also feels fear that the father will strike back at him. As
the boy has noticed that women, his mother in particular, have no penises, he is
struck by a great fear that his father will remove his penis, too. The anxiety is
aggravated by the threats and discipline he incurs when caught masturbating by
his parents. This castration anxiety outstrips his desire for his mother, so he
represses the desire. Moreover, although the boy sees that though he cannot
posses his mother, because his father does, he can posses her vicariously by
identifying with his father and becoming as much like him as possible: this
identification indoctrinates the boy into his appropriate sexual role in life. A
lasting trace of the Oedipal conflict is the superego, the voice of the father
within the boy. By thus resolving his incestuous conundrum, the boy passes into
the latency period, a period of libidal dormancy. On the Electra complex, Freud
was more vague. The complex has its roots in the little girl's discovery that she,
along with her mother and all other women, lack the penis which her father and
other men posses. Her love for her father then becomes both erotic and envious,
as she yearns for a penis of her own. She comes to blame her mother for her
perceived castration, and is struck by penis envy, the apparent counterpart to the
boy's castration anxiety. The resolution of the Electra complex is far less clearcut than the resolution of the Oedipus complex is in males; Freud stated that the
resolution comes much later and is never truly complete. Just as the boy learned
his sexual role by identifying with his father, so the girl learns her role by
identifying with her mother in an attempt to posses her father vicariously. At the
eventual resolution of the conflict, the girl passes into the latency period, though
Freud implies that she always remains slightly fixated at the phallic stage.
Fixation at the phallic stage develops a phallic character, who is reckless,
resolute, self-assured, and narcissistic--excessively vain and proud. The failure
to resolve the conflict can also cause a person to be afraid or incapable of close
love; Freud also postulated that fixation could be a root cause of homosexuality.
4. Latency Period: The resolution of the phallic stage leads to the latency period,
which is not a psychosexual stage of development, but a period in which the
sexual drive lies dormant. Freud saw latency as a period of unparalleled
repression of sexual desires and erogenous impulses. During the latency period,
children pour this repressed libidal energy into asexual pursuits such as school,
athletics, and same sex friendships. But soon puberty strikes, and the genitals
once again become a central focus of libidal energy.
5. The Genital Stage: In the genital stage, as the child’s once again focuses on his
genitals. Interest turns to heterosexual relationships. The less energy the child
has left invested in unresolved psychosexual developments, the greater his
capacity will be to develop normal relationships with the opposite sex. If,
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however, he remains fixated, particularly on the phallic stage, his development
will be troubled as he struggles with further repression and defenses.
Freud's Structural and Topographical Models of Personality
Sigmund Freud's Theory is quite complex and although his writings on
psychosexual development set the groundwork for how our personalities developed, it
was only one of five parts to his overall theory of personality. He also believed that
different driving forces develop during these stages which play an important role in
how we interact with the world.
According to Freud, we are born with our id. The id is an important part of our
personality because as newborns, it allows us to get our basic needs met. Freud
believed that the id is based on our pleasure principle. In other words, the id wants
whatever feels good at the time, with no consideration for the reality of the situation.
When a child is hungry, the id wants food, and therefore the child cries. When the child
needs to be changed, the id cries. When the child is uncomfortable, in pain, too hot, too
cold, or just wants attention, the id speaks up until his or her needs are met.
The id doesn't care about reality, about the needs of anyone else, only its own
satisfaction. If you think about it, babies are not real considerate of their parents'
wishes. They have no care for time, whether their parents are sleeping, relaxing, eating
dinner, or bathing. When the id wants something, nothing else is important.
Within the next three years, as the child interacts more and more with the world,
the second part of the personality begins to develop. Freud called this part the Ego.
The ego is based on the reality principle. The ego understands that other people have
needs and desires and that sometimes being impulsive or selfish can hurt us in the long
run. Its the ego's job to meet the needs of the id, while taking into consideration the
reality of the situation.
By the age of five, or the end of the phallic stage of development, the Superego
develops. The Superego is the moral part of us and develops due to the moral and
ethical restraints placed on us by our caregivers. Many equate the superego with the
conscience as it dictates our belief of right and wrong.
In a healthy person, according to Freud, the ego is the strongest so that it can
satisfy the needs of the id, not upset the superego, and still take into consideration the
reality of every situation. Not an easy jobs by any means, but if the id gets too strong,
impulses and self gratification take over the person's life. If the superego becomes to
unbending in his or her interactions with the world.
strong, the person would be driven by rigid morals, would be judgmental and
Freud’s Levels of Mental Awareness
Freud believed that the majority of what we experience in our lives, the
underlying emotions, beliefs, feelings, and impulses are not available to us at a
conscious level. He believed that most of what drives us is buried in our unconscious.
If you remember the Oedipus and Electra complex, they were both pushed down into
the unconscious, out of our awareness due to the extreme anxiety they caused. While
buried there, however, they continue to impact us dramatically according to Freud.
The role of the unconscious is only one part of the model. Freud also believed
that everything we are aware of is stored in our conscious. Our conscious makes up a
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very small part of who we are. In other words, at any given time, we are only aware of
a very small part of what makes up our personality; most of what we are is buried and
The final part is the preconscious or subconscious. This is the part of us that we
can access if prompted, but is not in our active conscious. It is right below the surface,
but still buried somewhat unless we search for it. Information such as our telephone
number, some childhood memories, or the name of your best childhood friend is stored
in the preconscious.
Because the unconscious is so large, and because we are only aware of the very
small conscious at any given time, this theory has been likened to an iceberg, where the
vast majority is buried beneath the water's surface. The water, by the way, would
represent everything that we are not aware of, have not experienced, and that has not
been integrated into our personalities, referred to as the non-conscious.
Freud and His Concept of Interpretation of Dreams
Freud undertook his own treatment through a process of self analysis focused
primarily on the method of dreams analysis. He was inspired to attempt dream analysis
by his observation that a patient’s dreams often provided significant clues to underlying
emotional causes for disturbed behavior. He did not believe that standard free
association would be possible in a self analysis due to the difficulty of splitting into the
roles of patient and therapists simultaneously. Accordingly, because he believed that
events in dreams must have meaning that reflect something from within a person’s
unconscious mind, Freud saw dream analysis as a means of accessing his own
Each morning Freud would write down any remembered content from his
dreams of the night before and would then free associate about the recalled context of
these dream stones. This self analysis was one of the lengthiest analyses undertaken by
Freud and lasted for two years. The entire self analysis was published as The
Interpretation of Dreams and is considered by many to be Freud’s most influential and
groundbreaking work. It was the first published work in which Freud introduced a
psycho-developmental process that he later termed the Oedipus complex.
In the course of his self analysis, Freud discovered what he sensed was a
universal process in child development in which children feel sexual attraction for the
parents of the opposite sex coupled with fear of the same sex parent who is now
perceived in the role of rival. He later called this the Oedipus complex in reference to
the Greek legend in which Oedipus, separated early in life from his birth parents, as an
adult unwittingly kills his father and marries his own mother.
Although it took a while for the full impact of The Interpretation of Dreams to
be realized, and Freud in his correspondence with his friend and biographer Ernest
Jones expressed his belief that the book had been unfairly overlooked or poorly
perceived by his professional peers, the actual evidence reveals that the book was in
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fact extensively and quite favorably reviewed in Germany and was well known to
educated German. One individual greatly influenced by this book was a young
physician fror Switzerland named Carl Jung.
The Defense Mechanisms
The ego deals with the demands of reality, the id, and the superego as best as it
can. But when the anxiety becomes overwhelming, the ego must defend itself. It does
so by unconsciously blocking the impulses or distorting them into a more acceptable,
less threatening form. The techniques are called the ego defense mechanisms, and
Freud, his daughter Anna, and other disciples have discovered quite a few, which are
briefly listed below.
Denial: Denial involves blocking external events from awareness. If some
situation is just too much to handle, the person just refuses to experience it. As
you might imagine, this is a primitive and dangerous defense -- no one
disregards reality and gets away with it for long! It can operate by itself or,
more commonly, in combination with other, more subtle mechanisms that
Repression: Repression, which Anna Freud also called “motivated forgetting,”
is just that: not being able to recall a threatening situation, person, or event.
This, too, is dangerous, and is a part of most other defenses. She said, as an
adolescent, I developed a rather strong fear of spiders, especially long-legged
support it.
ones. I didn't know where it came from, but it was starting to get rather
embarrassing by the time I entered college. At college, a counselor helped me to
get over it (with a technique called systematic desensitization), but I still had no
idea where it came from. Years later, I had a dream, a particularly clear one,
that involved getting locked up by my cousin in a shed behind my grandparents'
house when I was very young. The shed was small, dark, and had a dirt floor
covered with -- you guessed it! -- long-legged spiders. The Freudian
understanding of this phobia is pretty simple: I repressed a traumatic event -the shed incident -- but seeing spiders aroused the anxiety of the event without
arousing the memory. Other examples abound. Anna Freud provides one that
now strikes us as quaint: A young girl, guilty about her rather strong sexual
desires, tends to forget her boy-friend's name, even when trying to introduce
him to her relations! Or an alcoholic can't remember his suicide attempt,
claiming he must have “blacked out.” Or when someone almost drowns as a
child, but can't remember the event even when people try to remind him -- but
he does have this fear of open water! Note that, to be a true example of a
defense, it should function unconsciously. If my brother had a fear of dogs as a
child, but there was no defense involved: He had been bitten by one, and wanted
very badly never to repeat the experience! Usually, it is the irrational fears we
call phobias that derive from repression of traumas.
Asceticism or the renunciation of needs: Asceticism or the renunciation of
needs, is one most people haven't heard of, but it has become relevant again
today with the emergence of the disorder called anorexia. Preadolescents, when
they feel threatened by their emerging sexual desires, may unconsciously try to
protect themselves by denying, not only their sexual desires, but all desires.
They get involved in some kind of ascetic (monk-like) lifestyle wherein they
renounce their interest in what other people enjoy. In boys nowadays, there is a
great deal of interest in the self-discipline of the martial arts. Fortunately, the
martial arts not only don't hurt you (much), they may actually help you.
Unfortunately, girls in our society often develop a great deal of interest in
attaining an excessively and artificially thin standard of beauty. In Freudian
theory, their denial of their need for food is actually a cover for their denial of
their sexual development. Our society conspires with them: After all, what most
societies consider a normal figure for a mature woman is in ours considered 60
kilo gram overweight. Anna Freud also discusses a milder version of this called
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restriction of ego. Here, a person loses interest in some aspect of life and
focuses it elsewhere, in order to avoid facing reality. A young girl who has
been rejected by the object of her affections may turn away from feminine
things and become a “sex-less intellectual,” or a boy who is afraid that he may
be humiliated on the football team may unaccountably become deeply interested
in poetry.
Isolation: Isolation (sometimes called intellectualization) involves stripping the
emotion from a difficult memory or threatening impulse. A person may, in a
very cavalier manner, acknowledge that they had been abused as a child, or may
show a purely intellectual curiosity in their newly discovered sexual orientation.
Something that should be a big deal is treated as if it were not. In emergency
situations, many people find themselves completely calm and collected until the
emergency is over, at which point they fall to pieces. Something tells you that,
during the emergency, you can't afford to fall apart. It is common to find
someone totally immersed in the social obligations surrounding the death of a
loved one. Doctors and nurses must learn to separate their natural reactions to
blood, wounds, needles, and scalpels, and treat the patient, temporarily, as
something less than a warm, wonderful human being with friends and family.
Adolescents often go through a stage where they are obsessed with horror
movies, perhaps to come to grips with their own fears. Nothing demonstrates
isolation more clearly than a theater full of people laughing hysterically while
someone is shown being dismembered.
Displacement: Displacement is the redirection of an impulse onto a substitute
target. If the impulse, the desire, is okay with you, but the person you direct that
desire towards is too threatening, you can displace to someone or something
that can serve as a symbolic substitute. Someone who hates his or her mother
may repress that hatred, but direct it instead towards, say, women in general.
Someone who has not had the chance to love someone may substitute cats or
dogs for human beings. Someone who feels uncomfortable with their sexual
desire for a real person may substitute a fetish. Someone who is frustrated by
his or her superiors may go home and kick the dog, beat up a family member, or
engage in cross-burnings. Turning against the self is a very special form of
displacement, where the person becomes their own substitute target. It is
normally used in reference to hatred, anger, and aggression, rather than more
positive impulses, and it is the Freudian explanation for many of our feelings of
inferiority, guilt, and depression. The idea that depression is often the result of
the anger we refuse to acknowledge is accepted by many people, Freudians and
non-Freudians alike.
Projection: Projection is almost the complete opposite of turning against the
self. It involves the tendency to see your own unacceptable desires in other
people. In other words, the desires are still there, but they're not your desires
anymore. I confess that whenever I hear someone going on and on about how
aggressive everybody is, or how perverted they all are, I tend to wonder if this
person doesn't have an aggressive or sexual streak in themselves that they'd
rather not acknowledge. Let me give you a couple of examples: A husband, a
good and faithful one, finds himself terribly attracted to the charming and
flirtatious lady next door. But rather than acknowledge his own, hardly
abnormal, lusts, he becomes increasingly jealous of his wife, constantly worried
about her faithfulness, and so on. Or a woman finds herself having vaguely
sexual feelings about her girlfriends. Instead of acknowledging those feelings as
quite normal, she becomes increasingly concerned with the presence of lesbians
in her community. Altruistic surrender is a form of projection that at first glance
looks like its opposite: Here, the person attempts to fulfill his or her own needs
vicariously, through other people.
Reaction Formation: Reaction formation, stands for “believing the opposite,”
is changing an unacceptable impulse into its opposite. So a child, angry at his or
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her mother, may become overly concerned with her and rather dramatically
shower her with affection. An abused child may run to the abusing parent. Or
someone who can't accept a homosexual impulse may claim to despise
homosexuals. Perhaps the most common and clearest example of reaction
formation is found in children between seven and eleven or so: Most boys will
tell you in no uncertain terms how disgusting girls are, and girls will tell you
with equal vigor how gross boys are. Adults watching their interactions,
however, can tell quite easily what their true feelings are! Undoing involves
“magical” gestures or rituals that are meant to cancel out unpleasant thoughts or
feelings after they've already occurred. For example, a boy who would recite the
alphabet backwards whenever he had a sexual thought, or turn around and spit
whenever meeting another boy who shared his passion for masturbation.
Introjection: Introjection, sometimes called identification, involves taking into
your own personality characteristics of someone else, because doing so solves
some emotional difficulty. For example, a child who is left alone frequently,
may in some way try to become “mom” in order to lessen his or her fears. You
can sometimes catch them telling their dolls or animals not to be afraid. And we
find the older child or teenager imitating his or her favorite star, musician, or
sports hero in an effort to establish an identity. A more unusual example is a
woman who lived next to my grandparents. Her husband had died and she
began to dress in his clothes, albeit neatly tailored to her figure. She began to
take up various of his habits, such as smoking a pipe. Although the neighbors
found it strange and referred to her as “the man-woman,” she was not suffering
from any confusion about her sexual identity. In fact, she later remarried,
retaining to the end her men's suits and pipe! I must add here that identification
is very important to Freudian theory as the mechanism by which we develop our
superegos. Identification with the aggressor is a version of introjection that
focuses on the adoption, not of general or positive traits, but of negative or
feared traits. If you are afraid of someone, you can partially conquer that fear by
becoming more like them. A more dramatic example is one called the
Stockholm syndrome. After a hostage crisis in Stockholm, psychologists were
surprised to find that the hostages were not only terribly angry at their captors,
but often downright sympathetic. A more recent case involved a young woman
named Patty Hearst, of the wealthy and influential Hearst family. She was
captured by a very small group of self-proclaimed revolutionaries called the
Symbionese Liberation Army. She was kept in closets, raped, and otherwise
mistreated. Yet she apparently decided to join them, making little propaganda
videos for them and even waving a machine gun around during a bank robbery.
When she was later tried, psychologists strongly suggested she was a victim, not
a criminal. She was nevertheless convicted of bank robbery and sentenced to 7
years in prison. Her sentence was commuted by President Carter after 2 years.
Regression: is a movement back in psychological time when one is faced with
stress. When we are troubled or frightened, our behaviors often become more
childish or primitive. A child may begin to suck their thumb again or wet the
bed when they need to spend some time in the hospital. Teenagers may giggle
uncontrollably when introduced into a social situation involving the opposite
sex. A freshman college student may need to bring an old toy from home. A
gathering of civilized people may become a violent mob when they are led to
believe their livelihoods are at stake. Or an older man, after spending twenty
years at a company and now finding himself laid off, may retire to his recliner
and become childishly dependent on his wife. Where do we retreat when faced
with stress? To the last time in life when we felt safe and secure, according to
Freudian theory.
Rationalization: Rationalization is the cognitive distortion of “the facts” to
make an event or an impulse less threatening. We do it often enough on a fairly
conscious level when we provide ourselves with excuses. But for many people,
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with sensitive egos, making excuses comes so easy that they never are truly
aware of it. In other words, many of us are quite prepared to believe our lies. A
useful way of understanding the defenses is to see them as a combination of
denial or repression with various kinds of rationalizations.
Sublimation: Sublimation is the transforming of an unacceptable impulse,
whether it is sex, anger, fear, or whatever, into a socially acceptable, even
productive form. So someone with a great deal of hostility may become a
hunter, a butcher, a football player, or a mercenary. Someone suffering from a
great deal of anxiety in a confusing world may become an organizer, a
businessperson, or a scientist. Someone with powerful sexual desires may
become an artist, a photographer, or a novelist, and so on. For Freud, in fact, all
positive, creative activities were sublimations, and predominantly of the sex
16.10 Applications of Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is an example of a global therapy which has the aim of helping
clients to bring about major change in their whole perspective on life. This rests on the
assumption that the current maladaptive perspective is tied to deep-seated personality
factors. Global therapies stand in contrast to approaches which focus mainly on a
reduction of symptoms, such as cognitive and behavioural approaches, so-called
problem-based therapies.
Anxiety disorders such as phobias, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive
disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder are obvious areas where psychoanalysis
might be assumed to work. The aim is to assist the client in coming to terms with their
own id impulses or to recognize the origin of their current anxiety in childhood
relationships that are being relived in adulthood. Svartberg and Stiles (1991) and
Prochaska (1984) point out that the evidence for its effectiveness is equivocal. Salzman
(1980) suggests that psychodynamic therapies generally are of little help to clients with
specific anxiety disorders such as phobias or OCDs but may be of more help with
general anxiety disorders. Salzman (1980) in fact expresses concerns that
psychoanalysis may increase the symptoms of OCDs because of the tendency of such
clients to be overly concerned with their actions and to ruminate on their plight
(Noonan 1971).
Depression may be treated with a psychoanalytic approach to some extent.
Psychoanalysts relate depression back to the loss every child experiences when
realising our separateness from our parents early in childhood. An inability to come to
terms with this may leave the person prone to depression or depressive episodes in later
life. Treatment then involves encouraging the client to recall that early experience and
to untangle the fixations that have built up around it. Particular care is taken with
transference when working with depressed clients due to their overwhelming need to be
dependent on others. The aim is for clients to become less dependent and to develop a
more functional way of understanding and accepting loss/rejection/change in their
Shapiro et al (1991) report that psychodynamic therapies have been successful
only occasionally. One reason might be that depressed people may be too inactive or
unmotivated to participate in the session. In such cases a more directive, challenging
approach might be beneficial. Another reason might be that depressives may expect a
quick cure and as psychoanalysis does not offer this, the client may leave or become
with the analyst.
overly involved in devising strategies to maintain a dependent transference relationship
16.11 Let Us Sum Up
In this chapter we discussed the development of the school of psychoanalysis,
which differs from other schools described previously in number of key ways, that is,
psychoanalysis was clinically based and focused on explaining and treating abnormal
B.Ed - 15102
human behavior while other schools were laboratory-and or academically based on
focused on experimentation and on explanation of general human and infrahuman
behaviour. In this chapter we discussed about the views of the psychologist (Freud,
Anna Freud and Carl Jung) associated with psychoanalysis. Their contribution to
psychoanalysis is remarkable.
Check Your Progress
What do you understand by psychoanalysis? State the significance of
psychoanalysis in the field of educational psychology?
How the stages of development given by Freud are important for a teacher to
State the basic tenants and postulates of psychoanalysis?
16.13 Suggested Readings
1. Alan, Sheridan (1978), The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-analysis,
New York:
2. Anzieu, Didier (1986), Freud's Self-Analysis, London: Hogarth Press and the
Institute of Psycho-analysis.
3. Donald, Nicholson (1973) The Language of Psychoanalysis New York: Norton.
4. Grünbaum, Adolf (1984), The Foundations of Psychoanalysis: A Philosophical
Critique, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press
5. Tyson, Phyllis, and Robert L. Tyson (1990) Psychoanalytic Theories of
Development, New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.