28 Edward Thorndike Quotes from American Psychologist

Edward L. Thorndike, an American psychologist, is renowned for his theory of connectionism, positing that behavioral responses are formed through trial and error, impacting neural connections.

He studied animal behavior at Harvard with William James and at Columbia with James McKeen Cattell, where he earned his Ph.D. and introduced his two behavioral laws in “Animal Intelligence.”

These laws proposed that behaviors followed by satisfactory results are more likely to recur and behaviors are solidified through repeated stimulus-response connections.

Thorndike later revised these laws, emphasizing the strengthening effect of rewards.


His methodology, emphasizing quantitative data over descriptions, greatly influenced behaviorist experimentation.

Partnering with Robert S. Woodworth, he discovered learning in one area doesn’t necessarily aid learning in another.

As a Columbia professor, Thorndike championed statistics in social science research and applied psychology to classroom instruction, highlighting educational system flaws.

His research in the 1920s showed that innate factors, not age, determined continued learning ability, giving adult education a boost.

Edward Thorndike is the founder of modern educational psychology.

I have selected the best quotes by Edward Thorndike.

Best Edward Thorndike Quotes


Human folk are as a matter of fact eager to find intelligence in animals. ~ Edward Thorndike.


So the animal finally performs in that situation only the fitting act. ~ Edward Thorndike.


All that exists, exists in some amount and can be measured. ~ Edward Thorndike.


He who learns and runs away, lives to learn another day. ~ Edward Thorndike.


Nowhere more truly than in his mental capacities is man a part of nature. ~ Edward Thorndike.


Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall, but wise words endure. ~ Edward Thorndike.

For origin and development of human faculty we must look to these processes of association in lower animals. ~ Edward Thorndike.


Dogs get lost hundreds of times and no one ever notices it or sends an account of it to a scientific magazine. ~ Edward Thorndike.

On the whole, the psychological work of the last quarter of the nineteenth century emphasized the study of consciousness to the neglect of the total life of intellect and character. ~ Edward Thorndike.

Human beings are accustomed to think of intellect as the power of having and controlling ideas and of ability to learn as synonymous with ability to have ideas. But learning by having ideas is really one of the rare and isolated events in nature. ~ Edward Thorndike.

Famous Edward Thorndike Quotes


Amongst the minds of animals that of man leads, not as a demigod from another planet, but as a king from the same race. ~ Edward Thorndike.

Human education is concerned with certain changes in the intellects, characters and behavior of men, its problems being roughly included under these four topics: Aims, materials, means and methods. ~ Edward Thorndike.

Just as the science and art of agriculture depend upon chemistry and botany, so the art of education depends upon physiology and psychology. ~ Edward Thorndike.

The unconscious distortion of the facts is almost harmless compared to the unconscious neglect of an animal’s mental life until it verges on the unusual and marvelous. ~ Edward Thorndike.

The restriction of studies of human intellect and character to studies of conscious states was not without influence on a scientific studies of animal psychology. ~ Edward Thorndike.

Top Edward Thorndike Quotes

This growth in the number, speed of formation, permanence, delicacy and complexity of associations possible for an animal reaches its acme in the case of man. ~ Edward Thorndike.


Psychology helps to measure the probability that an aim is attainable. ~ Edward Thorndike.

When, instead of merely associating some act with some situation in the animal way, we think the situation out, we have a set of particular feelings of its elements. ~ Edward Thorndike.

It will, of course, be understood that directly or indirectly, soon or late, every advance in the sciences of human nature will contribute to our success in controlling human nature and changing it to the advantage of the common weal. ~ Edward Thorndike.

From the lowest animals of which we can affirm intelligence up to man this type of intellect is found. ~ Edward Thorndike.

Popular Edward Thorndike Quotes

The real difference between a man’s scientific judgments about himself and the judgment of others about him is he has added sources of knowledge. ~ Edward Thorndike.

Some statements concern the conscious states of the animal, what he is to himself as an inner life; others concern his original and acquired ways of response, his behavior, what he is an outside observer. ~ Edward Thorndike.

There is no reasoning, no process of inference or comparison; there is no thinking about things, no putting two and two together; there are no ideas – the animal does not think of the box or of the food or of the act he is to perform. ~ Edward Thorndike.

Great Edward Thorndike Quotes

To the intelligent man with an interest in human nature it must often appear strange that so much of the energy of the scientific world has been spent on the study of the body and so little on the study of the mind. ~ Edward Thorndike.

The intellectual evolution of the race consists in an increase in the number, delicacy, complexity, permanence and speed of formation of such associations. ~ Edward Thorndike.


Psychology is the science of the intellects, characters and behavior of animals including man. ~ Edward Thorndike.

The function of intellect is to provide a means of modifying our reactions to the circumstances of life, so that we may secure pleasure, the symptom of welfare. ~ Edward Thorndike.

So these were the 28 top Edward Lee Thorndike quotes and sayings.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Claude Cahun quotes and Lena Waithe quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

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