Psych Central

Law of Effect

By Renée Grinnell

A psychological principle, proposed by Edward Thorndike, that responses which produce a pleasant or satisfying result in a certain situation are more likely to occur again in the situation. Likewise, responses with an unpleasant or annoying effect are less likely to be repeated.

Example: If a hungry rat receives a food pellet after turning in a circle, he or she is more likely to turn in a circle again.

    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Jan 2009


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