Hilgard and Marquis' Conditioning and Learning

Hilgard and Marquis' Conditioning and Learning

Hilgard and Marquis' Conditioning and Learning

Hilgard and Marquis' Conditioning and Learning

Excerpt

Since the publication of the first edition of this book much has happened in the fields of conditioning and learning. New theories have appeared and old ones have been given up or modified. There have been important advances in experimental design and statistics. Knowledge of the philosophy of science, considered esoteric in the 1930's, is now commonplace. Experimental technology has seen a vast improvement. And the amount of research which has been done is enormous.

Naturally these developments have had an influence upon this revision. Most important has been a restriction of the range of materials covered. A comparison of tables of contents will show that four of the original chapters have been omitted -- those on serial learning, problem solving, voluntary action, and neurophysiological mechanisms. It has been possible to include some of the content of these chapters elsewhere in the revision; but with the exception of the physiological materials, the amount of space devoted to these topics is significantly reduced. In place of the four omitted chapters there are four new ones. Two of these resulted from the subdivision of the original chapters on the nature of reinforcement and on generalization and discrimination. The two other additional chapters, on secondary reinforcement and motivation, are almost totally new to this edition.

In spite of these, and other, modifications, this revision retains the essential characteristic of the parent edition, that of being basically empirical rather than theoretical in approach. To paraphrase the statement of Hilgard and Marquis, in their preface written in 1940: This book makes no effort to present a finished theory of learning. The attempt, instead, has been to place the facts and alternative conceptions of the nature of learning in some sort of order. It may be that such ordering will prove to be a small step in the direction of the formulation of a better theory than is now available.

There are many people to whom I owe a considerable debt of gratitude for help in the preparation of this revision. In the first place, there are the hundreds of individuals who generously contributed reprints, un-

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