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Associationism is the idea that mental processes operate by the association of one mental state with its successor states. The idea is first recorded in Plato and Aristotle, especially with regard to the succession of memories. Members of the principally British "Associationist School", including John Locke, David Hume, David Hartley, James Mill, John Stuart Mill, Alexander Bain and Ivan Pavlov, asserted that the principle applied to all or most mental processes.[1] Later members of the school developed very specific principles elaborating how associations worked and even a physiological mechanism bearing no resemblance to modern neurophysiology.[2] For a fuller explanation of the intellectual history of associationism and the "Associationist School", see Association of Ideas.

Some of the ideas of the Associationist School anticipated the principles of conditioning and its use in behavioral psychology.[1]

In the early history of socialism, associationism was a term used by early-19th-century followers of the utopian theories of such thinkers as Robert Owen, Claude Henri de Saint-Simon and Charles Fourier to describe their beliefs.[3]

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  1. ^ a b Boring, E. G. (1950) "A History of Experimental Psychology" New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts
  2. ^ Pavlov, I.P. (1927, 1960) "Conditioned Reflexes" New York, Oxford (1927) Dover (1960)
  3. ^ Schumpeter, Joseph (1994, first ed. 1954). History of Economic Analysis. pp. 429, 430. 

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