Ecological Systems Model

PSYCHOPATHOLOGY, THEORIES OF.

ECONOMY OF EFFORT, LAW/PRINCIPLE OF. See CONDUCT, LAWS OF; LEAST EFFORT, PRINCIPLE OF.

ECONOMY, PRINCIPLE OF. See PARSIMONY, LAW/PRINCIPLE OF.

EDUCATIONAL THEORY. See HER-BART'S DOCTRINE OF APPERCEPTION; LEARNING THEORIES/LAWS; MIND AND MENTAL STATES, THEORIES OF; TRANSFER OF TRAINING, THORN-DIKE'S THEORY OF.

EFFECT, LAW OF. = empirical law of effect = Thorndike's law of effect = law of psychological hedonism. This is one of the major principles of the American psychologist Edward Lee Thorndike's (1874-1949) learning theory, which states that "satisfaction" strengthens a stimulus-response connection or bond, and "annoyance" weakens or gradually eliminates a stimulus-response bond. The law of effect is also called the empirical law of effect and the law of selection (cf., the most-likely law - posits that in predicting an organ ism's behavior that what has occurred most often in the past is what is most likely to happen in the future). In its original form, the law of effect states that of several responses made to the same situation, those that are accompanied or closely followed by satisfaction to the organism will, other things being equal, be more firmly connected with the situation, and those that are accompanied or closely followed by discomfort to the organism will, other things being equal, have their connections with that situation weakened. The greater the satisfaction (or discomfort), the greater the strengthening (or weakening) of the stimulus-response bond. Other forms of the law of effect are called strong law of effect, weak law of effect, and negative law of effect. The weak law of effect states that a response is more likely to recur if it is followed by a rein-forcer, a "satisfier," or a "satisfying state of affairs." The strong law of effect, which is an extension of the empirical or weak law of effect, states that the necessary condition for a response to be learned is the explicit occurrence of a reinforcer(s) or a "satisfying state of affairs" after the response is exhibited (this is not a necessary requirement in other learning theories, such as E. R. Guthrie's contiguity theory). The negative law of effect, as a reciprocal of the weak law of effect, states that responses that are followed by an "annoying state of affairs" are less likely to be repeated. The negative law of effect was dropped by Thorndike in his later writings when he became convinced that punishment ("annoying state of affairs") did not simply "stamp out" behavior in the same way that reinforcers ("satisfiers") "stamp in" behavior. Historically, much confusion concerning the law of effect has resulted from failure to differentiate the law on three points: as an empirical statement; as a general theory of reinforcement; and as special hypotheses concerning the nature of reinforcers and their action characteristics. However, an implementation of the law of effect (cf., minimal social situation effect) may be seen in the win-stay, lose-change strategy, which is a simple strategy used in any sequential decision task/game where the first decision or move is chosen arbitrarily, and then whenever a choice leads to reward, the player repeats it on the following trial, and whenever it leads to punishment or non-reward, the player switches to an alternate option on the following trial; e.g., Kelley, Thibaut, Radloff, & Mundy, 1962; cf., three-door game show problem/effect). Consistent criticism against the law of effect has focused on the tautology or circularity in reasoning inherent in the law (cf., reinforcement retroactive paradox/hypothesis - the contradictory notion that a reward after an activity can strengthen that activity, thus showing a "backward effect"). That is, it is difficult to explain an instance of learning in terms of its "effects" because the effects happen after the behavior or learning has already occurred, or the only way one can tell whether or not a given result is satisfying is by observing to see whether or not the organism repeats the behavior that produced the supposed reward. The circular reasoning is that a "satisfying state of affairs" is one that increases responding, and any event that increases responding is a "satisfying state of affairs." Thus, for example, an individual likes a stimulus (e.g., applause) because he or she repeats a behavior (e.g., acting on stage), and the individual repeats a behavior (e.g., acting on stage) because he or she likes the stimulus (e.g., applause). See also BELONGINGNESS, LAW/ PRINCIPLE OF; EXERCISE, LAW OF; GUTHRIE'S THEORY; HEDONISM, THEORY/LAW OF; HERRNSTEIN'S MATCHING LAW; LEARNING THEORIES/LAWS; MINIMAL SOCIAL SITUATION EFFECT; READINESS, LAW OF; REINFORCEMENT, THORNDIKE'S THEORY OF; THREE-DOOR GAME SHOW PROBLEM/ EFFECT. REFERENCES

Thorndike, E. L. (1911). Animal intelligence: Experimental studies. New York: Macmillan.

American Journal of Psychology, 39, 212-222. Stephens, J. M. (1929). A mechanical explanation of the law of effect. American Journal of Psychology, 41, 422431.

Tolman, E. C., Hall, C., & Bretnall, E. (1932).

A disproof of the law of effect and a substitution of the laws of emphasis, motivation, and disruption. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 15, 601-614.

Guthrie, E. R. (1935). The psychology of learning. New York: Harper. Razran, G. (1939). The law of effect or the law of qualitative conditioning. Psychological Review, 46, 445-463. Mowrer, O. H. (1946). The law of effect and ego psychology. Psychological Review, 53, 321-334. Postman, L. (1947). The history and present status of the law of effect. Psychological Bulletin, 44, 489-563. Meehl, P. E. (1950). On the circularity of the law of effect. Psychological Bulletin, 47, 52-75. Kelley, H. H., Thibaut, J. W., Radloff, R., & Mundy, D. (1962). The development of cooperation in the "minimal social situation." Psychological Monographs, 76, 1-19. Herrnstein, R. (1970). On the law of effect.

Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 13, 243-266.

EGAN EFFECT. See AUDITION/HEARING, THEORIES OF.

EGO-ALTER THEORY. See ORGANIZATIONAL/INDUSTRIAL/SYSTEMS THE-ORY; SELF-CONCEPT THEORY.

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