Upward Pygmalion Effect




USE, LAW OF. This principle is one of the corollaries of the American psychologist Edward Lee Thorndike's (1874-1949) law of exercise, which states that behaviors, stimulus-response connections, and functions that are exercised, rehearsed, or practiced are strengthened as compared to those behaviors, bonds, or functions that are not used. Some early writers held that the repeated use of a stimulus-response connection unit (neurons) bring about certain synaptic changes that made the passage of the nerve impulse more rapid in the future. For example, in 1926 A. Gates called this native capacity of nervous structure modifiability the law of modification by exercise or, more simply, the law of use [cf., the use/disuse, use-inheritance theory advanced by the French naturalist/evolutionist Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet Lamarck (1744-1829), which holds that the structural or functional changes in organs brought about by their use or disuse are passed onto the progeny). The notion of a physiological change in nervous structure during the practice (use) of stimulus-response connections anticipated the Canadian psychologist Donald Olding Hebb's (1904-1985) later conceptualizations in perception and learning of cell assembly and phase sequence, where groups of neurons are functionally interrelated and organized into a complex "closed circuit" created by repeated stimulation of those units. See also DISUSE, LAW/THEORY OF; EFFECT, LAW OF; EXERCISE, LAW OF; FREQUENCY, LAW OF; HEBB'S THEORY OF PERCEPTUAL LEARNING; LAMARCK'S THEORY.

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