Edward Tolman

Edward Tolman

Edward Tolman (1886 – 1959) was a Cognitive Behaviorist who believed that animals had the ability to learn things that they could use later in a variety of ways. This point of view was in opposition to the idea that learning occurs as an automatic response to environmental stimuli.

Tolman is well-known for his theory on Latent Learning, which states that learning occurs even if there is no reward. He demonstrated this in an experiment where rats were trained to run a maze without a reward. After a few days, a reward was introduced. The day after the reward was introduced, the rats began to run the maze faster. This showed that the rats developed a mental map of the maze when they were going through it without a reward. Upon introducing the reward, the rats demonstrated their learning by being able to run the maze faster in order to get the reward.

Translated in human terms, you could go to the supermarket every week and go past the Baking Needs aisle without having to purchase any item from that section. This does not mean that you have not learned where the baking items are located. If one day you needed to buy a sack of flour, you would be able to go straight to that aisle because you already knew where it was.

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