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Pavlovvs. Köhler

Pavlov’s little-known primate research

Abstract

During the 1920s, I. P. Pavlov’s scholarly interests broadened to consider problem-solving. Distrusting Wolfgang Köhler’s Gestalt explanation of the problemsolving process and its interspecies aspects, Pavlov performed, from 1933 to 1936, a number of experiments, including a replication of Köhler’s building experiment, using chimpanzees as subjects. Confirming Köhler’s findings, Pavlov explained the problemsolving process in terms of unconditional reflexes and the establishment, by Pavlovian conditioning and the Thorndikian method of trial and error, of temporary neural connections identical, on the psychological level, to associations. In contrast to Köhler’s “structural” explanation, Pavlov emphasized the processes of analysis and synthesis. According to Pavlov insight is achieved progressively—as the result of the organism’s problem-solving behavior—contradicting Köhler’s thesis of a sudden subjective reorganization of the environmental situation. Pavlov explained interspecies differences among higher organisms in terms of the range of a species behavior, with the second signal system as the main distinguishing characteristic between human and nonhuman species.

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References

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Correspondence to George Windholz.

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Windholz, G. Pavlovvs. Köhler. Pay. J. Biol. Sci. 19, 23–31 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03003103

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Keywords

  • Pavlovian Conditioning
  • Cortical Level
  • High Nervous Activity
  • Error Behavior
  • Main Distinguishing Characteristic