Paired-Associate Learning (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
Strategy used by psychologists to study learning.
Paired-associate (PA) learning was invented by Mary Whiton Calkins in 1894 and involves the pairing of two items (usually words) stimulus and a response. For example, words such as calendar (stimulus) and shoe (response) may be paired, and when the learner is prompted with the stimulus, he responds with the appropriate word (shoe).
The study of PA learning has been important for a number of reasons. Psychologists view it as representative of the kind of learning that people engage in every day. For example, when learning a new word, a person must pair the word itself with the concept it represents. This is the essence of PA learning. Another reason is that it allows researchers to study the associations between stimuli and responses. Although this stimulus-response approach has lost some of its importance in contemporary psychology, researchersspecially behavioristshave been interested in how stimulus-response links are formed and broken.
Psychological research has revealed that when people learn paired associates, they engage in two separate mental processes. The first is the learning of the response; the second is the formation of a bond between the two words. This second process seems to produce a one-way association in many...
(The entire section is 350 words.)
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