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Pavlov's Conceptualization of Learning

George Windholz
The American Journal of Psychology
Vol. 105, No. 3 (Autumn, 1992), pp. 459-469
DOI: 10.2307/1423198
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1423198
Page Count: 11
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Pavlov's Conceptualization of Learning
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Abstract

Introductory texts in psychology create the misleading impression that I. P. Pavlov was concerned solely with conditioned reflexes. In fact, influenced by Woodworth's "Contemporary Schools of Psychology" (1931), Pavlov also became interested in learning. Pavlov proposed a two-factor learning theory according to which all learning was based on association, but conditioning and trial and error learning had specific functions. According to Pavlov, conditioned reflexes were temporary and unstable and therefore more flexible in the interaction of higher organisms with the changing environment. Trial and error learning provided knowledge and was relatively more stable. Scientific discovery was based on facts obtained by trial and error; valid relations were reinforced by experimental results, whereas incorrect relationships were extinguished. Some suggestions are made that would allow authors of introductory texts to describe more informatively the contributions of Pavlov to modern psychology.

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