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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 ?
The concern with competition was a prominent theme of the emerging labor movement in the United States, as its advocates reacted to the growing commodification of labor (Wilentz), and it was one of the main concerns of American associationists, who saw in Fourier's systems a way to replace competition with harmony (Guameri).
My argument here builds on that of historian Carl Guarneri, who has described the Associationist movement as a "utopian alternative" in the sense that it was a variation on fundamental American values rather than a "radically alien presence in American life" (9).
Potkay writes, "during the course of the [eighteenth] century the analysis of the passions transcended its practical origins in classical rhetoric, exfoliating into the psychology of the ruling passion (Pope), the associationist analysis of complex passions (Hume, Hartley), the theodicy of the passions (Pope, Akenside), the passional foundation of morality (Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, Smith), poetic invocations of personified passions (the Wartons, Gray, Collins), and narrative enactment of passional agency (Richardson, Fielding).
This deficit view of learning, even as embodied in academic standards that are performance-based, usually embraces an associationist psychology that favors a pedagogy in which knowledge exists apart from the learner and not, as modern cognitive science would have it, in relation to the learner's current mental schemata, motivations, and life experiences.
The discussions of Victorian writings on mesmerism, multiple consciousness, memory, and associationist psychology are for the most part lucid, and serve the chance purpose--through extended quotes and an appendix of extracts--of bringing together a range of obscure texts on mental science and music in source-reader fashion.
It is the psychological process whereby passion metamorphoses into reverie, and the associationist theory works its way into many of his brief narratives: "The other day, as you know, Luizina fell into the lake; it was because she was watching a laurel leaf which had dropped into the water from a tree on the Isola Madre (Borromean Islands).
According to the associationist model of creative thought in psychology (Mednick 1962), people are helped greatly in generating new ideas by thinking of concepts loosely associated with concepts in the problem description.
more ambitious and applied empiricist and associationist ideas to
Like Taine's, Spencer's theory of mind is associationist in the sense of conceiving thought as the product of classified and abstracted sensations.
She kept the house until the fall of 1857, when she moved to another associationist community, settled by Quakers involved in spiritualism, in Harmonia, Michigan, just outside Battle Creek.
Chapters include: nativist models, associationist models, constructivist models, sociocognitive models, and models mixed and models new.
Still, despite combining body and place, and despite its ambition of addressing the full range of human thought, associationist psychology--a branch of philosophy in the eighteenth century--does not qualify for mention in The Fate of Place.

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