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Pavlov's Dogs and Thorndike's Cats — Two Great Discoveries of the Early 1900's




You can give two animal species and two researchers, a Russian named Ivan Pavlov and his dogs, and an American, Edward Thorndike with his cats, the credit for their ideas and principles as the basis for behaviourism.


Pavlov's Dogs



Ivan Pavlov, wasn't a Russian psychologist, he was a physiologist who was lucky enough to accidentally stumble upon what is now known as "Classical Conditioning." He was researching the digestive systems of dogs when he became distracted by the amount the dogs salivate before food is presented to them. A big discovery! Exactly what we humans do when we imagine biting down on a ripe yellow juicy lemon. Our mouths start to water just thinking about it. Like I said, a big discovery by connecting the dots.

Thorndike's Cats



Edward Thorndike's contribution to behaviourism was his "Law of Effect," which he discovered in his lab working on cats. He discovered cats would repeat pleasant things, like getting food and things like receiving pain they wouldn't repeat.  Again, another great discovery! It laid the groundwork for other behavioural scientists like B.F.Skinner, 1904-1990 that rank up there with the likes of Freud.   


Pavlov's Dogs and Thorndike's Cats, "Classical Conditioning" and the "Law of Effect," two great discoveries dealing with behaviourism of the early 1900's.






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