Association in Psychology

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Association in Psychology


a connection formed under specific conditions among two or more psychological formations (sensations, motor acts, perceptions, conceptions, ideas, and such).

The action of this connection—the actualization of the association—consists in the fact that the appearance of one part of the association regularly causes the appearance of the other or others. The conditioned reflex is considered to be the psychophysiological basis for association.

Although the idea of a link between conceptions had already been developed in ancient philosophy, especially by Plato and Aristotle, the term “association” was introduced by the British philosopher J. Locke only in 1698, and since that time it has become the fundamental concept of as-sociationism. In the history of psychology associations have been classified according to various principles. (See P. A. Shevarev, Generalized Associations in the Curricular Work of Schoolchildren, Moscow, 1959.) One common classification is based on the temporal conditions during the formation of the association. If the connection between psychological formations arises because of their simultaneous introduction into the consciousness, it is said to be an association by contiguity in space; if, however, the connection is formed as a result of their consecutive appearance, then it is said to be an association by contiguity in time. Another classification is based on the differences in the content of psychological formations between which the connection is established and the content of the parts of that association which is thereby actualized. According to this principle, distinctions are made between associations of contiguity, associations of similarity, and associations of contrast. The generalized associations distinguished by the Soviet psychologist P. A. Shevarev also come under the same principle of differentiation.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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