A study of changes in orientation resulting from changed intra-organic motivation in learning



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The distribution of errors and their elimination in the maze performance of the rat has received much study and critical analysis since Watson did his work on the role of kinesthetic and organic stimulation in animal learning. This problem has been one of the most persistent in studies of animal behavior. We must still agree with Hull when he says: "one of the most ... baffling problems which confronts modern psychologists is the finding of an adequate explanation of the phenomena of maze learning." Nor would we deny that "... the steady accumulation of well authenticated maze-learning phenomena, all demanding explanation by any thoroughgoing explanation hypothesis, is making the task ... more insistent and at the same time more complex and difficult." In their attempt to explain the distribution of errors in various blinds of the maze, and the elimination of maze errors, investigators have searched for underlying causal factors, such as type of structural maze units utilized by the animal. Buel catalogues ninety-three factors which have been advanced as determining "differential errors" and attempts to show that many of them are not only not mutually exclusive but are also highly interrelated with others. One of the factors receiving much attention is motivation. Because an intimate relationship exists between drives and rewards the study of motivation has proved to be very complex. Most attempts to investigate this relationship as it affects "differential maze errors," have involved constant drives and constant reward position. Even in most investigations where drives and rewards were changed, the spatial features of the maze and the reward position remained the same. In most of these experiments hunger and thirst were the drives used. [...] The present study was designed to investigate orientation as it is affected by changing conditions of motivation and to answer two general types of questions. (1) Will the general distribution of errors in the multiple-T maze be indicative of changing physiological drives? In other words, will the animal change its orientation with changing drives? (2) Is it possible for the rat to change its mode of response at a particular bifurcation in the complex maze as physiological drives are changed?