Contributions to Mental Processes Research

The approach to explaining mental processes used by Miller and Dollard, though it represented a theoretical advance in the 1950's, was gradually replaced by other explanations, beginning in the 1960's. The drive-reduction theory oflearning that Miller and Dollard advocated came under criticism, and the S-R view that humans passively react to external stimuli was criticized by many psychologists. As a result, new theories oflearning emphasizing cognitive (mental) concepts were developed.

New ways of thinking about mental processes were also suggested by fields outside psychology; one ofthese was computer science. The computer and its programs were seen as analogous to human mental processes, which, like computer programs, involve the input, storage, and retrieval of information. The computer and its programs, therefore, suggested new ways of thinking about the human mind. Miller and Dollard's S-R theory has largely been replaced by concepts of modern cognitive science.

Miller and Dollard's theory still exercises an important influence on modern thinking in psychology. Their analysis of psychoanalysis in terms of learning theory made the important point that neuroses could be unlearned using the principles of learning. Behaviorally oriented treatments of emotional disorders owe a debt to the intellectual legacy of Miller and Dollard.

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