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Who advocated the 'Trial and Error theory of Learning' ? 
1. Kohler
2. Thorndike
3. Pavlov
4. Ross

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Correct Answer - Option 2 : Thorndike

E. L. Thorndike, an American psychologist, is known as the founder of modern educational psychology.


  • Thorndike propounded 'Trial and Error Theory' which represents that learning is the result of associations forming between stimulus and responses.
  • "Mistakes teach individual" statement is based on 'Trial and Error Theory'.

Thorndike's Experiment

  • Thorndike formulated his theory, base on his experiments conducted on his cat in the puzzle box.
  • The door of the box could be opened by pulling the strings inside the box. A fish was kept outside.
  • The cat was tried to come out of the box by squeezing, jumping, biting, etc.
  • As the experiment was repeated several times the wrong movements decreased and in the end, the cat was able to open the door in a single trail.

Based on Trial and Error Learning Theory, Thorndike gave three primary laws of Learning:

  • Law of readiness: It refers to the degree of eagerness and inquisitiveness to learn something new.
  • Law of exercise: It is based on practice and drill to learn something for a long period.
  • Law of effect: It is based on motivation and reinforcement to make the learning experience pleasant for learners.

Hence, it becomes clear that Thorndike advocated the 'Trial and Error Theory of Learning' 


  • Ivan Pavlov, a Russian psychologist has propounded the 'Theory of Classical Conditioning' which emphasizes that learning as a habit formation is based on the principle of association and substitution.
  • According to Lee Ross, "Plateaus of learning is a characteristic feature of the learning process indicating a period where no improvement in performance is made".
  • Wolfgang Kohler, a German psychologist, is associated with ‘Theory of Insightful learning’. In his theory, he has proposed the term ‘Insight’ that doesn't take place with trial & error, rather than it is a sudden reorganization of experience.

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