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the different possible responses so that desirable ones give satisfaction and undesirable ones, discomfort. By rewards and punishments, natural or designed, parents, teachers, employers and rulers preserve the responses which they approve and stamp out those which they disapprove. The history of a mind's training is in great measure the history of the elimination of its mistakes.
These Three Factors Illustrated.—These three factors may be illustrated by almost any mental achievement, for instance, by learning to read. The teacher arranges a chart with a picture of a cat, the word cat and the like. The more skillfully she can arrange to get the situation attention to the picture, the cat and the sound as she or some pupil pronounces it,' the better the prospect that the associations between the cat and the picture and sound will be formed. If now there is an utterly stolid, idiotic boy who is aroused to no action by the situation, who does not look at the chart or listen to the teacher, or repeat the sound after her, or think of cats or dogs or anything else, the process of teaching him to read is blocked at the outset and cannot progress till he is somehow stimulated to respond.
Usually, of course, responses will be made; the children will say cat when the picture is pointed out, will repeat cat after the teacher when she points at the word and says cat; and will say cat when she points at the word but says nothing; some may however say “kitten,' or ‘What is that?' or the last word the teacher has herself said. If the teacher looked as pleased, and said yes as often, and in general rewarded these incorrect replies as she does the correct ones, the process would again be blocked. It is the satisfaction or discomfort which she causes that selects the sound cat to be the permanent fixed associate of the sight cat.
§ 37. Response by Analogy Responses to Novel Situations.—The law of instinct and the law of association fail apparently to prophecy what will happen when a situation appears for which no instinctive connection exists and which has never before been experienced. What, for example, will a chicken do when it for the first time sees a piece of yarn? What will a student unlearned in zoology do who is asked to name the picture of an Amphioxus?
There being no response provided for that particular situation by inborn constitution' or previous experience, the individual will respond as he would to some situation like it, to which instinct or training has provided a respons The chicken will respond to the yarn as he would nstinctively to a worm, will seize it, run away and begin to swallow it. The student will call the picture of Amphioxus a worm, though it is not, because experience has connected the word worm with long, legless, finless things.
Every stimulus tends to discharge in some response; and in default of any response specially connected with it by nature or nurture, a stimulus will discharge into that response which has gone with something like it. This fact, that any unprepared-for situation will be treated as some familiar one like it would be, may be called Assimilation or Response by Analogy. The fact may be stated more exactly as follows:
To any situation for which neither nature nor nurture provides a response the response will be that which they provide for the situation most like it; or, Any situation
1 It must be remembered that for many new situations there is provided an instinctive repsonse just because of their novelty. 'To handle and look at' is the baby's instinctive reaction to small novel objects as a class.
which has by nature and nurture no connections will connect with that response which the situation most like it would connect with.
Response by Analogy.-Learning to deal with new situations is a constant repetition of the following process: the new is treated as some situation like it would be treated; by the results of the responses they are modified until in due time a response is selected that is well adapted to the situation.
The probable physiological basis for assimilation is easy to conceive, though proof is absent. Let us call the stimulation set up in the neurones by the new situation A BCDEFG. For just this particular situation there is no response provided; with just this neurone-group action there is no connection formed. But suppose that for the brain action A KCDEFG, there is a connection formed, MNO. The line of least resistance, of strongest connection for ABCDEFG would be toward MNO rather than toward some other; for the elements A CD E F and G would tend each to call up its own connection. The fact that the new situation resembles some other means that it has elements in common with some other. It can call up a response because these elements do have some formed connection though it as a whole has not. It calls up the response which would be made to the situation most like it, because being most like it means containing many of the elements which it contains, The elements in it call up the response which they are connected with, namely, the response made to the situation most like it. Assimilation, then, is one instance of the law of partial activity. The case may be likened roughly to that of the direction taken by a four horse team at a fork in the roads, when the team has never traveled either road as a team but some one horse or a pair has. Their
previous habit of taking, say, the left turn, will cause the whole team to go that way.
The law of response by analogy is of importance apart from its service as an account of the means of responses to new situations; for even when instinct or habit does furnish a response, that response may be neglected in favor of the response which would be made to some situation resembling the one present. The baby who on seeing a bottle of small white medicine-tablets sang out ‘shirt buttons' could have followed instinct and responded merely by fumbling and biting the new things. The school boy who, when asked to give the opposite of frequently, wrote 'a bad smell,' could have followed previous habits and said, 'I don't know.'
Exercises 1. What addition should be made to the maxim, “Practice makes perfect?" Guccenspel Preachine
2. Why is repetition more useful in acquiring knowledge than in acquiring skill?
3. Show how the law of association applies (a) to learning to ride a bicycle, (b) to learning to be tactful in dealing with people, (c) to learning to read, (d) to learning to shoot straight.
4. (a) Give two cases of learning in which resultant satisfaction is the main factor. (b) Give two cases in which resulting discomfort is the main factor. (c) Give two cases in which frequency is the main factor.
5. Give two illustrations of the law of the mind's set. Give two illustrations of the law of partial activity.
6. Explain by the laws described in this chapter or the preceding one the following facts :
The existence of the so-called 'happy families’; e. g., of dogs, cats, mice, chickens, living together in peace.
That a religion based on fear commonly produces only negative morality; i. e., only the absence of evil, not the presence of good acts.
Young children (five to eight years old) will commonly define an object by its use. Thus a knife ‘is a thing to cut with', a chair 'is what you sit on'.
A child in the primary class of a school committed some misdemeanor and was called to the teacher's desk and punished. A day or so later when occasion offered he committed the same fault but when told to come to the teacher's desk sat stubbornly still.
A child from the country who was being shown the animals in the zoological gardens called the antelopes calves.
7. In what way does attention play a part in acquisitions by the law of association ?
& Criticise the following statement :
"Our nervous system grows to the modes in which it has been exercised.”
9. The probable physical parallel in the nervous system for the law of association is the law of the formation of connections stated and described in Chapter X. Read again § 27 and for each feature of the law of association find the probable physiological parallel.
Stout, Manual, 76-96.