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JOST'S LAWS. The German psychologist Adolph Jost (1874-1920) formulated these laws based on his work, as well as the earlier research by the German psychologist Hermann von Ebbinghaus (1850-1909) in 1885 in the area of human learning and retention. The earlier studies reported that when lists of materials are learned on successive days ("distributed practice") using the same criterion each day, the number of trials to learn becomes progressively less. Jost expanded on this idea and proposed the following principles (Jost's laws): (1) given two associations of the same strength, but of different ages, the older one has greater value on a new repetition; (2) given two associations of the same strength, but of different ages, the older falls off less rapidly in a given length of time. Jost's data were rather meager for founding "laws," but more recent experiments have helped to corroborate his findings. For example, A. Youtz confirmed the fact that an older habit shows a larger learning increment after a single relearning trial and that when comparable parts of the materials are equated initially, as on the first recall, the amount of increment from new repetitions tends to increase in a logarithmic fashion. Thus, older associations (materials) require fewer trials to relearn than do younger associations. Inasmuch as younger habits show an excess of errors in the middle of a series of materials, the ratio of errors in the central position to those in the end position was used as one of the indicators of age. Subsequently, Youtz (1941, p. 46) restated Jost's first law in the following terms: "[O]f two series of associations which are overtly remembered to the same degree, the one exhibiting the most extensive dissipation of intralist inhibition will profit more on a new repetition." A principle in learning related to Jost's law, called the law of diminishing returns (Thorndike, 1907), states that in memorizing a series of items, each successive repetition increases the amount recalled less than does the one preceding it (cf., diminishing-returns principle - a person's perceived value of anything lessens the more the person has of that item; for example, if one has only one dollar, another dollar would be a big difference, but if one has 100 dollars, that same dollar does not seem to be as important or valuable; and the principle of distributed repetitions - in the learning process, this refers to the acquisition of an ability where a smaller number of repetitions is distributed over a longer period of time as compared to them being crowded together; the repetitions are often spaced gradually farther and farther apart as in "progressively distributed practice"). As part of Spearman's theory of intelligence, the law of diminishing returns states that the more ability (e.g., intelligence) a person already has available, the less advantage accrues to his or her ability from further increments of it. All the studies conducted in psychology on the distribution of learning (and on the relations of retention, recall, and relearning) seem to fit together adequately and probably embody some fundamental law -that would likely supersede Jost's laws - even though that law has not yet been formulated. Jost's laws are largely obsolete today, and the principles have been incorporated into the more modern area of human memory that employ newer concepts and terms such as short-term memory and long-term memory. See also FORGETTING/MEMORY, THEORIES OF; LEARNING THEORIES/LAWS; SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM MEMORY, THEORIES OF; SPEARMAN'S TWO-FACTOR THEORY. REFERENCES

Ebbinghaus, H. von (1885). Uber das ge-dachtnis: Untersuchungen zur experimentellen psychologie. Leipzig: Duncker & Humbolt. Jost, A. (1897). Die assoziation festigkeit in ihrer abhangigkeit von der verteilung der wiederholungen. Zeitschrift fur Psychologie, 14, 436-472. Thorndike, E. L. (1907). The elements of psychology. New York: Seiler. Britt, S. H., & Bunch, M. E. (1934). Jost's law and retroactive inhibition. American Journal of Psychology, 46, 299-308. Youtz, A. (1941). An experimental evaluation of Jost's laws. Psychological Monographs, No. 238.

JOUBERT'S THEORY OF LAUGHTER/ HUMOR. The French physician Laurent Joubert (1529-1582) emphasized the physiological mechanisms causing the convulsions of laughter; he also considered laughter to be a mixture of opposite emotions - joy and sorrow - where he set the conflict of emotions (as Plato enunciated centuries earlier) clearly in the heart, not in the mind. Joubert 's theory of laughter states that the contrary emotions stirred in the heart involve alternating contractions and dilations, with sadness causing the contractions and joy causing the dilations. Such an alternating movement is transferred to the pericardium - an organ that is attached firmly by a large tissue to the diaphragm. According to Joubert's theory, the diaphragm (which undergoes the same alternations as the heart) causes the breath in the person's lungs to be expelled, and results in a "hearty" laugh. Thus, Joubert characterizes the phenomenon of laughter in such anatomical and physiological terms; he argues, also, that animals do not laugh because their pericardium is not firmly attached to the diaphragm as it is in humans. In his humor theory, Joubert relates laughter at the ridiculous to the laughter arising from the action of tickling whose "strange touch"

brings some pain and annoyance to the parts of the body unaccustomed to it, but it also causes a kind of "false pleasure" that is not offensive. Of course, Joubert's physio-psychological theory of laughter/humor is outdated today and is eclipsed by more modern assessments of the role of physiology in the explanation of laughter. See also DESCARTES' THEORY OF HUMOR/LAUGHTER; HUMOR, THEORIES OF. REFERENCE

Joubert, L. (1560/1579/1980). Treatise on laughter. G. D. de Rocher, Transl. University, AL: The University of Alabama Press.

Brain Training Improving Your Memory

Brain Training Improving Your Memory

For as much as we believe we train our brains and give them a good workout, we seldom actually do it on a regular basis. In most cases, our brains are not used in a balanced way. We're creatures of habit. We find a way to do things that we consider comfortable and we seldom change our ways.

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