Edward Lee Thorndike (August 31, 1874 – August 9, 1949) was an American psychologist who spent nearly his entire career at Teachers College, Columbia University. His work on comparative psychology and the learning process led to the theory of connectionism and helped lay the scientific foundation for educational psychology. He also worked on solving industrial problems, such as employee exams and testing. He was a member of the board of the Psychological Corporation and served as president of the American Psychological Association in 1912. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Thorndike as the ninth-most cited psychologist of the 20th century. Edward Thorndike had a powerful impact on reinforcement theory and behavior analysis, providing the basic framework for empirical laws in behavior psychology with his law of effect. Through his contributions to the behavioral psychology field came his major impacts on education, where the law of effect has great influence in the classroom.
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A broken leg can be remembered and located: "It hurt right below my knee, it throbbed, I felt sick at my stomach." But mental pain is remembered the way dreams are remembered — in fragments, unbidden realizations, like looking into a well and seeing the dim reflection of your face in that instant before the water shatters.