Edward Lee Thorndike

Edward Lee Thorndike (1874–1949) was born in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, the son of a Methodist minister. He entered Wesleyan University in Con- necticut in 1891 and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1895. At Wesleyan, the psychology courses did not interest him much, but reading James’s Princi- ples did. After Wesleyan, Thorndike went to Harvard, where he earned a master’s degree in 1897. While at Harvard, he took a course from James, and the two became good friends. His first research idea concerned what is now called theory of mind, or how children make deductions about the beliefs of

For example, Romanes attributed such emotions as anger, fear, and jealousy to fish; affection, sympathy, and pride to birds; and slyness and keen reasoning power to dogs. The following is an example of how Romanes attributed human motives and intelli- gence to nonhuman animals:

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One day the cat and the parrot had a quarrel. I think the cat had upset Polly’s food, or something of that kind; how- ever, they seemed all right again. An hour or so after, Polly was standing on the edge of the table; she called out in a tone of extreme affection, “Puss, puss, come then—come then, pussy.” Pussy went and looked up innocently enough. Polly with her beak seized a basin of milk standing by, and tipped the basin and all its contents over the cat; then chuckled diabolically, of course broke the basin, and half drowned the cat. (Sargent & Stafford, 1965)

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