Animal Intelligence Essay Research Paper Philip Weiss112200Animal

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Animal Intelligence Essay, Research Paper Philip Weiss 11/22/00 Animal Intelligence “Animal Intelligence” The learning theory of Thorndike represents the original S-R framework of behavioral psychology: Learning is the result of associations forming between stimuli and responses. Such associations or “habits” become strengthened or weakened by the nature and frequency of the S-R pairings. The classic example of Thorndike’s S-R theory was a cat learning to escape from a “puzzle box” by pressing a lever inside the box. After much trial and error behavior, the cat learns to associate pressing the lever (S) with opening the door (R). This S-R connection is established because it results in a satisfying state of affairs (escape from the box). In the article “Animal

Intelligence” Edward Lee Thorndike states that the research that has been done on animal behavior was not sufficient. They only relied on observations and collected anecdotes. In George Romanes “Animal Intelligence” he gathered observations and anecdotes from observers around the world to put together his theory on animal intelligence. According to his theory, the animal possesses a fairly high level of intelligence. Thorndike did not agree with this and the method of research that Romanes used. Thorndike did not accept the fact that if there is milk inside the house, the cat comes every day to get it. He wanted to know what the animal is thinking when he comes. What is going on in his mind? Thorndike’s main purpose in studying animal intelligence is to trace back the

origins of humans in general. Thorndike felt that in order to avoid all these problems it would be more useful to do experiments on the animal rather than observations and collection of anecdotes. Through experiments we are able to have control of the stimuli in the environment and we are able to repeat the procedure more than once to get a better understanding of the occurrences during each trial. We are therefore also able to see whether the behavior of the animal is a coincidence, if he learns anything new over each trial or he stays in the same state as when he began. To prove this he did an experiment with a wooden box that had a rope that would open a door that led to food. A cat was starved and then placed inside the box to see how he would react to the stimuli presented

to him and if he would figure out how to get to the food. During the first trial the cat reacted with very frantic movements. He clawed and bit every hole available to him, he banged his head against the roof of the box. After about eight to ten minutes of this behavior the cat fell by accident on the lever , the door opened and the cat ran to the food. According to Romane’s theory, since the cat has a fairly high intelligence level he should have learned for the second trial to pull on the cord immediately when placed in the box. Thorndike found that this was not so. The second time the cat was placed in the box, it went through the same processes that it went through the first time. It scratched and bit all the possible holes in the box. Then after a while it fell on the

lever that opened the door to the food. The thing that Thorndike realized is that the amount of time that it took for the cat to go through the rituals of biting, clawing, banging his head on the top of the cage and then falling on the lever decreased with each trial until it reached a point where it would do it almost immediately after it was placed in the box. Thorndike’s theory is that during each trial there is an association building up in the animals mind. Each trial that association becomes stronger and stronger until it gets stamped in the animals head exactly what he has to go through to get to the stage of pressing the lever but the animal does not sit there and contemplate how he is going to pull of a great escape from the box. The pleasure that the animal receives