Intertrial Responses as ‘Rehearsal’: A Study of ‘Overt Thinking’ in Animals

  • O. Hobart Mowrer
Part of the Cognition and Language book series (CALS)


The experiment reported in the present chapter was carried out (jointly with Harold Coppock) two years after the one described in Chapter 1, and without any conscious knowledge of a logical relationship between them. Surprisingly enough, however, the second experiment, which pays special attention to the significance and functional utility of intertrial response in an avoidance-learning situation (also alluded to in the first experiment), provides the ideas needed for the development of a truly explanatory or analytical theory of imitation, which, in later chapters, will be referred to as the “autism theory,” because of the assumption that “imitation” develops in situations where the spontaneous occurrence of responses is intrinsically rewarding. In short, the idea is that imitation is the learning that takes place when the occurrence or “rehearsal” of a response which has received primary reinforcement is repeated and perfected, during “intertrial intervals,” because of the secondary reinforcement which the occurrence of the response now provides (see p. 55, Chapter 4).


Conditioned Stimulus Unconditioned Stimulus Intertrial Interval Experimental Situation Conditioning Trial 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • O. Hobart Mowrer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IllinoisChampaign-UrbanaUSA

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