After reading this article you will learn about Association:- 1. Concept of Association 2. Types of Association 3. Laws.
Concept of Association:
Recall of past percept is caused by the forces of suggestion which work according to the Laws of Association. Reproduction is due to association. A past percept is revived in consciousness because it is suggested by some present percept or idea.
And the present percept or idea suggested the past percept because they were associated in the past experience. Suggestion according to James Sully the process by which a given percept or idea stirs up the sub-conscious trace of a past percept and revives it in consciousness as a memory image.
Association is the connection between a percept an idea or between one idea and another by virtue of which one appearing in consciousness tends to revive the other. You perceived a pen and ink-pot always together in the past; an association has been established between the ideas of the two articles in your mind; hence whenever you perceive or think of one of them, you are reminded of the other.
The percept or idea of an ink-pot suggested the idea of a pen because the two ideas are associated in the mind. Association is rightly called by Drever cohesion. Ideas cohere with one another and form groups or systems.
Types of Association:
There are two kinds of Association;
(i) Free Association:
In free association one idea suggests another which, again suggests another, and so on without any check. Reverie affords the best example of free association. Ideas freely suggests other ideas in a continuous train of ideas during reverie. In building ‘castles in the air’ ideas freely suggest one another without any check. Here there is free association. But it is motivated by emotions.
An experiment can test free association. The subject is given a series of words as stimuli and is asked to respond to each word by speaking some other word that is suggested to his mind. He must speak out the first word, recalled.
If you give the subject the stimulus word ‘table’, he may respond by speaking out ‘dinner’, or ‘chair’. What particular word will be recalled depends on the frequency, recency, and intensity of association.
If he has frequently observed the connection of two facts, the linkage between them is strong. If he has recently observed their connection, the linkage between, them is strong. If his observation of their connection was a vivid experience, the linkage between them is strong. The present state of the individual also is to be taken into account.
If he is happy, the pleasant ideas will occur to him. If he is unhappy, unpleasant ideas will occur to him. If frequency, recency and intensity cooperate in favour of the same response, then that response is sure to occur. If they pull different ways, the strongest of them will determine the response.
First, these tests throw some light on the individual’s habits of thought. Some ideas are strongly linked with one another in his mind owing to frequency. So his “egocentric responses” can easily show his predilections.
Secondly, the tests gave a “detective” use based on the factor of recency. If a murderer has recently committed murder properly selected stimulus words will lead him to recall the scene of murder, and his responses will betray him; he may check the responses and hesitate and thus arouse suspicion.
Thirdly, the tests can unearth an individual’s emotional “complexes”, which are very intense. Hesitation and embracement in responding to word relating to money, betray his financial trouble. Psychoanalysts employ free association tests to unearth complexes.
(ii) Controlled Association:
When a definite purpose steers the associative process, we speak of controlled association. There is free association is reverie, but controlled association in remembering answers to questions during an examination.
In this test the subject is required to respond to each stimulus word by a word standing in a particular relationship to it. He may-be asked to give the antonym of a word. He may be asked to mention a part of each object denoted by a word. Or, he may be asked to mention the higher class to which the stimulus word belongs. An intelligent subject takes less time to respond in an easy controlled association test.
In a controlled association test, the subject is set or prepared to make a particular kind of response. For example, he is set to say the opposite of the stimulus words. And he readily responds to the stimulus words ‘high’, ‘rich’, etc., by saying ‘low’, ‘poor’, etc. The preparatory set is favourable to right recall. It has influence on selection of the right word.
There is controlled association in arithmetical word. Rapid adding, subtracting, or multiplying would be impossible without an efficient set. Here the set is a response to the task. In reading, the set is a response to the context. The meaning of a word is called up by the context.
The objective situation arouses a set that controls both thought and action. The individual reacts to a particular situation in a particular way. He thinks and acts in a particular manner in a particular situation.
Laws of Association:
Suggestive forces work according to certain laws. They are the different modes of connection of association among percept and ideas.
There are three Laws of Association:
(i) The Law of Contiguity:
Experiences which happen together, or which closely follow one another, tend to cohere and form an association. Experiences which occur together either simultaneously or in close succession tend afterwards to revive one another.
If B has always been perceived together with A, or immediately after A, then the perception or idea of A will revive the idea of B. The visual perception of a ripe mango suggests the ideas of its sweet taste and flavour because they were perceived together in the past.
The perception of a chair suggest the idea of a table because they were very often perceived together in the past, the idea of an ink-pot suggests the idea of a pen for the same reason.
The perception of a flash of lightning may suggest the idea of thunder, because they were perceived in close succession in the past. The percept of mango-blossoms suggests the idea of eater of mangoes for the same reason. Association by contiguity is determined by continuity of attention and interest. We attend to an ink-pot and a pen together at the time of writing. Their association is governed by unity of interest.
(ii) The Law of Similarity:
Similar experiences tend to suggest each other. An object perceived tends to revive another object with resembles it and was perceived in the past. In such ideal revival one object may recall another with which it has never been connected in previous experience.
I see a man who reminds me of an intimate friend of mine by some resemblance in his personal appearance. I have never had occasion to think of these two persons together so that their ideas might be associated in my mind.
A photo reminds us of the person whom it represents. A picture suggests the idea of its original. There is similarity between the photo and the person, the picture and it’s original. So the photo suggests the person, and the picture suggests the original.
The Law of Similarity can work only when there is partial difference between two similar things (e.g., the photo and the person). Two perfectly identical things cannot suggest each other. They may be mistaken for each other.
(iii) The Law of Contrast:
Opposites tend to suggest each other. Adversity reminds a person of his days of prosperity; similarly, prosperity reminds one of one’s adversity. The heat of summer suggests the cold of winter. Peace suggests war; war suggests peace. But the Law of Contract is not now recognized as a fundamental Law.
Interrelation of the Laws of Association:
The Law of Contrast is not regarded at present as a primary Law of Association. It may be reduced to the Law of Contiguity and the Law of Similarity. Contrasted things and qualities are very often brought together in consciousness so that a bond of connection is established between them owing to contiguity.
For example, very often we think of virtue and vice together and contrast their consequences; “virtue is rewarded, while vice is punished”. Bain attempts to reduce the Law of Contrast to the Law of Similarity. Contrasted things have a generic identity underlying them; they are members of the same class.
Thus pleasure reminds us of pain because both are modes of feeling. Heat reminds us of cold because both are degrees of temperature. Virtue reminds us of vice because both are types of character. Heat does not remind us of vice; virtue does not remind us of cold.
Though contrasted things are members of the same class, they are the extreme members, and extreme members are more dissimilar than similar. So the reduction of the Law of Contrast to the Law of Similarity is far-fetched.
The Law of Contiguity involves the Law of Similarity. I perceived Mohan and Sohan very often in the past. So the two ideas have been associated in the mind. I perceive Mohan at present; and the percept reminds me of idea of Sohan.
The present percept of Mohan revives the subconscious trace of Mohan on account of similarity, and through the idea of Mohan revives the idea of Sohan with which it was connected in the past. If A stands for the percept of Mohan, a for the subconscious trade of Mohan, and b for the subconscious trace of Sohan, then by similarity, A first revives a, and then a suggests b by contiguity.
Thus the Law of Contiguity involves the Law of Similarity. The Law of Similarity also involves the Law of Contiguity. We have already seen that the Law of Similarity can work only when there is great similarity as well as partial difference between two things. The perception of identical elements revives subconscious traces by similarity and these revive the differing elements by contiguity.
There are many points of similarity between a photo and the person whom it represents. And there are some points of difference also. For example, the photo is small, while the person is large; the photo has no thickness, voice, life, etc., while the person has them.
When I perceive the photo, the identical elements revive their subconscious traces by similarity, and these in their turn revive the differing elements by contiguity. Thus the Law of Similarity involves the Law of Contiguity.
Hamilton combines the Law of Contiguity and the Law of Similarity into one, viz., the Law of Red integration. It means two presentations which are brought together in consciousness form a whole mental state, so that whenever a part occurs to consciousness it tends to revive the whole.
A part of a whole mental state cannot call up another part without calling up the whole. The whole is formed out of the parts of continuity of attention. Stout regards continuity of attention as the fundamental principle of the Law of Red integration.
For Drever and others, the Law of Similarity is a special case of the operation of the Law of Systematic Relations. Association between our experiences is determined by the unity and continuity of the process of attention and the continuity of interest.
Our experiences associated with one another tend to from wholes and systems. Thus bonds of association are established between the wholes and heir parts, between the parts and one another, and between the parts and the whole. This law is operative in higher though processes. There is a similarity between Stout and Drever’s views.