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Formal Statement of a New Approach to Learning Theory USPHS

Greenwald, Anthony G.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
United States Public Health Service (USPHS), Cognitive Processes, Decision Making, Learning Theories


This paper is a formal statement of a new approach to learning theory. It is indebted to several major learning theories including Tolman's general cognitive approach to learning, Hull's distinction between associative and motivational factors of performance, Mowrer's "two-factor" approach, Guthrie's single contiguity principle, Estes' analysis of response probability, and Hebb's "conceptual nervous system." The original contributions presented here fall into two categories: 1) the postulation of two essential dependent variables of learning (stemming from the postulation of a DM-CNS with a single contiguity law of learning); and 2) the application of mathematical communication theory to learning. These contributions are independent of each other and, as such, cannot really be tested as a unit. This paper includes vocabulary and postulates of the theory, essential dependent and independent variables, predictions based on the theorems, and areas of potential application of the theory. Supercedes RB-64-58.

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