Association (psychology)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The association is based on the assumption that ideas are linked ( learned ) with one another in the form of simple cognitive elements . The connection happens under certain conditions, such as emotions or modifications of simple sensory impressions . Thinking processes are, for example, a consequence of these connections. (a)

This assumption applies in psychology , psychoanalysis and learning psychology .

Developing the teachings

In his work On Memory and Memory, Aristotle communicated regular conditions that favor or inhibit the occurrence of associations. They were also known as the Laws of Association . After that, the association strength of two hangs during learning stimuli on their

  1. spatial and temporal proximity ( contiguity ),
  2. Similarity ( assimilation ) and
  3. Opposition.

Aristotle also considered moments of repetition, feelings and attention as well as certain shapes and forms of the objects to be important for the formation of associations. (a) (b)

The term association is used to explain the phenomenon that two (or more) originally isolated psychological contents (such as perceptions, feelings or ideas), also referred to as "association elements", enter into such a close connection that one can be called up Association member the occurrence of one or more other association members entails or at least favors.

For example, the sight of a rose and the scent of a rose are linked in memory, since they usually appear together when studying, while the scent of lemon perhaps activates the image of a washing-up liquid bottle.

According to the prevailing opinion , which has emerged since sensualism in the 17th century, the achievements of memory are based on such chains of association . The theories of Aristotle were only taken up again at that time, since the scholasticism of the MA was less open to empirical thinking. (b) Thus the ability to associate was seen as an indispensable requirement of human memory. This is also important in learning research.

The direction of psychology, which explains all mental processes with the help of association, was named as association psychology . Its founders were the English empiricists Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), John Locke (1632–1704), David Hume (1711–1776) and others. a. (c)

The Scottish philosopher Thomas Brown (1778–1820), who took up psychiatric topics among other English men of letters and experienced the time of moral management , added in the 19th century the three facts that he named Aristotle's “primary laws of association” with his “ secondary laws of association ”. (c) According to these, the strength of the connection between two stimuli, in addition to the Aristotelian laws, depends on:

  • the duration of the original impression,
  • the frequency of their common occurrence,
  • their respective intensity and liveliness,
  • the frequency of their repetition or the length of time that has passed since the last common occurrence,
  • the lifestyle and physical condition of the person concerned,
  • the number of links competing with this link.

Newer concepts

Association learning is also the linking of stimuli. Using the Pavlov dog as an example , this means: A normally neutral and unspecific stimulus (e.g. ringing a bell = unconditioned stimulus [US]), which is linked to an unspecific reaction (possibly turning the head to the sound source), now triggers a specific one other reaction (salivation = conditioned stimulus response) that was previously linked to another stimulus (sight or smell of food) (stimulus substitution). The originally neutral stimulus thus becomes an experience-dependent trigger, the so-called conditional stimulus [CS]. (d)

Association learning includes

  1. Cognitive links (e.g. learning to signal)
  2. Basic biological forms of learning ( habituation , sensitization , imprinting )
  3. Conditioning

Association is also mentioned in the context of technical pattern recognition as a property of neural networks .


The interest that the conditioned reflex found in Anglo-Saxon and Russian psychology, and which was also one of the main concerns of behaviorism , is due not least to the fact that it seemed to be an experimental confirmation of the rather comprehensive claim of association psychology, which is all psychological Related to operations. However, this does not apply to this rather extensive scope. Measurements have shown that the duration of the reflex response is lengthened by the conditioning. This indicates that the excitation triggered by the unconditioned stimulus (US) takes place over a longer nerve path or over a total of longer neuron chains as a reflex arc . This brings the conditioned reflex closer to arbitrary reactions in terms of its expiration time. Further animal experiments seem to have proven that conditioning does not involve the cerebral cortex, but rather that the development of conditioned reflexes takes place in subcortical parts of the brain. This could also explain the gradual extinction ( extinction ) of conditioned reflexes when conditioned stimuli (CS) are no longer used and exercised regularly. This represents a certain relativization of the experimental results as only temporary phenomena. The functions of the neuroanatomical substrate for the unconditional triggers [US] can therefore not be bypassed and replaced by learned signals [CS]. For understandable reasons, these are rather indispensable, since the learned reaction (CR) is also extinguished if only CS occurs and US (e.g. the feeding of Pavlov's dog) does not take place. (e)

The results of Pavlov also seemed to the political rulers in Russia to be a confirmation of the ideological education they propagated, see also the more political consequences in → Upward Effect .

These factors are obviously why psychoanalysis has opposed the findings of association psychology. She has developed the process of free association , in which it is not the intentional flow of thoughts, ideas and memories, but one's own motives and desires that become freely recognizable, without any external action. (d)

Hans Jürgen Eysenck (1916–1997) paved the way for a new therapeutic method in 1968 with his investigations into the deconditioning and desensitization of behavioral therapy. In an alcoholic, for example, the connection between the unspecific stimulus [US] in the sense of a "temptation and failure situation" and the reaction "drinking" [CR] can be achieved by using a drug such as antabuse , which causes nausea shortly after drinking alcohol . However, this measure can only be recommended for supportive therapy in addition to other therapeutic strategies, as it can have little influence on one's own triggering motives and any active personal change in this triggering situation. (e)

The Gestalt psychology criticized the association lesson from more fundamental considerations, since it represents a holistic approach and combinations of elementary mental units has been questioned. Shapes are not formed from elements, they are primarily and immediately given. (f)

Ludwig J. Pongratz (1915–1995) gave a detailed overview of critical references to the theory of associations . In addition, reference should be made to the criticism that applies to elemental psychology.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Association  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f Peter R. Hofstätter (Ed.): Psychology . The Fischer Lexicon, Fischer-Taschenbuch, Frankfurt a. M. 1972, ISBN 3-436-01159-2 ;
    (a) p. 97 on Lemma “Thinking”, Stw. “Presentation and Association”;
    (b) p. 29 on Lemma “Association”, Stw. “Aristoteles”;
    (c) p. 29 on Lemma “Association”, Stw. “English Association Psychology”;
    (d) p. 64 on Lemma “Conditional Reflex”, Stw. “Association as a result of the often repeated experience”;
    (e) pp. 66–70 on Lemma “Conditional Reflex”, Stw. “All that glitters is not gold” and “experimental neuroses”;
    (f) p. 155 f. on Lemma "Gestalt and Whole Psychology", Stw. "Element Psychology, Emotions".
  2. a b c d e Wilhelm Karl Arnold et al. (Ed.): Lexicon of Psychology . Bechtermünz, Augsburg 1996, ISBN 3-86047-508-8 ;
    (a) Col. 157 f. to Lemma "Association" Stw. "Aristoteles";
    (b) Col. 158 on Lemma “Association”, Stw. “Scholastik”;
    (c) Col. 163 on lemma “Association Psychology”;
    (d) Col. 160 on lemma "Association", Stw. "Critique on the part of psychoanalysis" and Col. 161 on Lemma "Association, free";
    (e) Col. 160 on Lemma "Association", Stw. "Eysenck".
  3. ^ Klaus Dörner : Citizens and Irre . On the social history and sociology of science in psychiatry. [1969] Fischer Taschenbuch, Bücher des Wissens, Frankfurt / M 1975, ISBN 3-436-02101-6 ; P. 91 f. to resident “Thomas Brown” and “moral management”.
  4. ^ Thure von Uexküll : Basic questions of psychosomatic medicine. Rowohlt Taschenbuch, Reinbek near Hamburg 1963; P. 164 on Stw. "Psychological Interest Pavlov"; P. 165 f. to Stw. “Comparison of Pavlov with Freud”.
  5. Hans Jürgen Eysenck : Fact and fiction in psychology . Baltimore. 1968.
  6. ^ Heinrich Schmidt : Philosophical Dictionary (= Kröner's pocket edition. 13). 21st edition, revised by Georgi Schischkoff . Alfred Kröner, Stuttgart 1982, ISBN 3-520-01321-5 ; P. 40 on Lemma "Association", Stw. "Shape and Whole Psychology".
  7. Ludwig J. Pongratz : Problem history of psychology . Bern - Munich, 1967.