chapter  23
11 Pages

A Reply to “Sign-Gestalt or Conditioned Reflex?”

WithNeal E. Miller

In a very interesting and provocative paper, Professor Tolman has maintained that, on the basis of sign-gestalt theory, “insightful” behavior ought to occur in a certain learning situation. He has also expressed the opinion that, if this behavior actually does occur, it will be unexplainable in terms of conditioning. Professor Tolman has devised an ingenious experiment to illustrate his point. A conditioned response analysis of the sign-gestalt experiment reveals a probable reason for the negative results and leads one to predict that the insightful behavior should appear when the experiment is appropriately modified. A comparison of the experimental results with the negative results of the sign-gestalt experiment suggests that the distinctiveness of the goal reaction is an important factor in determining the amount of this transfer. The theoretical analysis using the stimulus-response concepts tends to be confirmed by the fact that it suggested the modification which produced the positive experimental results.