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theory that all consciousness is the result of the combination, in accordance with the law of associationassociation,
in psychology, a connection between different sensations, feelings, or ideas by virtue of their previous occurrence together in experience. The concept of association entered contemporary psychology through the empiricist philosophers John Locke, George Berkeley,
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, of certain simple and ultimate elements derived from sense experiences. It was developed by David HartleyHartley, David,
1705–57, English physician and philosopher, founder of associational psychology. In his Observations on Man (2 vol., 1749) he stated that all mental phenomena are due to sensations arising from vibrations of the white medullary substance of the brain
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 and advanced by James MillMill, James,
1773–1836, British philosopher, economist, and historian, b. Scotland; father of John Stuart Mill. Educated as a clergyman at Edinburgh through the patronage of Sir John Stuart, Mill gave up the ministry and went to London in 1802 to pursue a career writing
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associative psychology, a direction in psychology in which the concept of association appears as the main explanatory principle of all psychic life. As-sociationism attempts to affirm a strictly causal approach to human behavior and consciousness. Underlying associationism is the notion that the sequence of ideas which arises in the consciousness reflects the system of external influences on the organism. It is supposed that inasmuch as the interaction of an organism with the physical world proceeds in accordance with the laws of mechanics, the connections of ideas arise in accordance with the same laws. This proposition was first put forth by the English philosopher T. Hobbes and was developed by the Dutch philosopher B. Spinoza, who formulated the law of association: “If the human body is once subjected to simultaneous action by two or several bodies, then the soul, when subsequently it imagines one of them, will immediately recall the others” (“Etika,” in Izbr. proizv., vol. 1, Moscow, 1957, p. 423). The term “association” was first used by the English philosopher J. Locke in 1698. However, he used it to designate “false and unnatural combinations of ideas” (“Opyt o chelovecheskom razume,” in Lzbr. filos. proizv., vol. 1, Moscow, 1960, p. 400) and counterposed ties based on reason to these combinations. In the mid-18th century, the English philosopher D. Hartley, drawing on the mechanics of I. Newton, developed a theory under which all manifestations of psychic life, including reason and will, are subordinated to the law of association—which is universal and inevitable, like the law of gravity. The influence of this theory, which asserted that any link of conceptions and actions can be deduced from sensations and the traces they leave in the brain, was extraordinarily great. It became prevalent not only in psychology, but also in ethics, aesthetics, biology, pedagogy, and logic. The idealistic associationism of the English philosophers G. Berkeley and D. Hume—who asserted that the link between psychic elements is made within the consciousness and is purely subjective—arose as a counterweight to this natural-scientific orientation. The view, characteristic of associationism, which held that complex processes of consciousness were the product of combinations of elements (sensations or ideas) led in the early 19th century to the truly mechanistic conceptions of the English philosopher J. Mill, according to which all structures of psychic life are made up of “bricks,” or feelings, and the “cement,” or associations, which holds them together. Attempting to mitigate the extremity of this concept, the English philosophers J. S. Mill and A. Bain modernized it, acknowledging that qualitatively new psychic units may arise from sensations.

The principles of associationism were fertile for the progress of psychological investigation—in particular, the development of new methods of studying the memory (mechanical—H. Ebbinghaus, Germany; and figurative— F. Galton, England), emotions (C. Darwin, England), and motivation (S. Freud, Austria; K. Jung, Switzerland). A reorientation in associationism took place. Instead of the obsolete mechanistic explanations, biological explanations were advanced (H. Spencer, England; I. M. Sechenov, Russia). The concept of associationism was transformed, on a new physiological basis, into doctrines of conditioned reflexes and behaviorism. Certain psychological schools (the Würzburg school and Gestalt psychology) criticized associationism as being mechanistic, atomistic, and incapable of explaining the integrity and activity of consciousness. From the standpoint of Marxist psychology, this criticism is one-sided, and although it does contain rational aspects, it ignores the historical value of associationism and its contribution to the causal explanation of psychic activity.


Ivanovskii, V. N. Assotsianizm psikhologicheskii i gnoseologicheskii. Kazan, 1909.
Ivanovskii, V. N. “Uchenie ob assotsiatsii idei.” Uch. zap. imp. Kazanskogo un-ta, 1915, book 12; ibid., 1917–18, books 2, 7–9, 10–12.
Shevarev, P. A. Obobshchennye assotsiatsii v uchebnoi rabote shkol’nika. Moscow, 1959.
Iaroshevskii, M. G. Istoriia psikhologii. Moscow, 1966. Chapter 6.
Warren, H. C. History of the Association Psychology. [London,] 1921.


References in periodicals archive ?
Having briefly outlined the social profile of associationism, it will be interesting to find out the nature of relationship between associationism and political participation.
It is not necessary to reject associationism and behaviorism completely to embrace constructivism.
Its chapter on the history of associationism complicates and extends the claims made in the Notebooks regarding the indivisibility of sensation.
These conditions are diverse in their 'form and content,' such as the different degrees of associationism, technical components, inclusion policies, specific and differentiated mass media treatment, etc.
In an interesting move, Zerilli then invokes Lockean associationism to explain Locke's account of how free subjects would consent to being constrained by a social contract.
The great epochal biography of English modernity had first of all been replayed in his earliest move: namely, from default-mode Anglicanism and schoolboy reading in the Neo-Platonists to Unitarianism and Hartleian associationism, that dogmatized offshoot of the tradition of John Locke and David Hume.
It was probably through discussions with Coleridge that he had understood the potential of a concept that had its roots in a form of associationism expounded by David Hartley.
4) And Kant transforms psychologism, saving it from skeptical conclusions implicit in Hume's associationism by introducing two a priori yet sensible elements of knowledge, the pure intuitions of space and time.
Mill on socialism, a bioeconomic Marx-Weber paradigm, Japanese cultural concepts of eclecticism and civil society, and amongst essays on new horizons, topics such as Louis Blanc and associationism in France, the Brussels Democratic Association and the Communist Manifesto and editorial problems in establishing a new edition of The German Ideology.
5) The rise of associationism in antebellum America and the astonishing proliferation of reformist institutions helped to generate and disseminate widely the versifications of conscience, piety, grievance, smugness, sympathy, and rage that occupied writers of all sorts.
Writing of the arbitrary associations that govern the layered narratives of Carson's 'Calvin Klein's Obsession', John Goodby contends that 'such associationism puts both narrative and the coherent self to some degree of risk .
At this point, the regime began to get nervous about the spread of associationism, and it responded by refusing to legalize more independent housewife organizations.

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