Trial and Error Learning

Thorndike's cat in the puzzle box engaged in a variety of behaviors until being successful in escaping the box.

 

Initially, the animal exhibits a variety of behaviors and those behaviors that lead to positive consequences are repeated and the behaviors that do not lead to positive consequences are eliminated. The animal tried various behaviors and those that were erroneous were eliminated.

Thorndike referred to this relationship between behavior and its consequences as the Law of Effect: A response that is followed by satisfying consequences becomes more likely to be repeated and a response that is followed by dissatisfying consequences becomes less likely to be repeated.