Maze learning practical in psychology BHU


Introduction-Learning (maze learning) is the process of acquiring new understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, attitudes, and preferences.’’

[1] The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals, and some machines; there is also evidence for some kind of learning in certain plants.

[2] Some learning is immediate, induced by a single event (e.g. being burned by a hot stove), but much skill and knowledge accumulate from repeated experiences.

[3] The changes induced by learning often last a lifetime, and it is hard to distinguish learned material that seems to be “lost” from that which cannot be retrieved. 

Theory of Thorndike ,”According to Thorndike’s theory, when an organism is placed in a new situation, it reacts without understanding. His responses are faulty. When that organism is kept repeatedly under the same conditions, then its random and aimless actions are reduced. After many attempts, a stage comes when the organism is kept in those conditions, The organism responds only appropriately. So the mind learns through effort and error.

Experiment of Thorndike,” For an experiment, Thorndike designed a box made of seashells and the door of this box  was opened by pressing a special lever. Thorndike  locked a hungry cat in this box.The cat’s favorite food was placed outside the cage, which was visible to the cat from the vents and this food was a stimulus for the cat. A record of the cat’s overall behavior in each attempt was prepared. The stimulus (food) triggered a reaction in the cat. The cat started jumping around in the cage. His sole purpose of jumping was to get out and get food. 

Maze Learning
cat in the maze box
In the first attempt, during the period of the cat’s useless actions, the door opened by chance due to its paw falling on the lever. When the door opened, the cat came out and got his favorite food. As in the first attempt, the cat was starved in each other attempt and other attempts were repeated as in the first attempt. It was seen in the experiment that as the effort increased, his wasted activities became less and the time also decreased. After several attempts, it was observed that when a hungry cat was put in a cage, it would press the lever and when the door was opened, it came out to get its favorite food. So the cat learned on the basis of stimulus-response relationship.

Name of the
– Maze learning

 Purpose To demonstrate the effect of practice on maze

Hypothesis– The number of errors and time taken by the subject
on maze will decrease as the number of trials will increase.


Independent Variable- Number of trials on maze

Dependent Variable-Time taken and number of errors committed
by subject in each trial

– stylus maze, stop-watch,
stylus, blind fold, writing material.

-Name, Age, Sex, Educational
Qualification ……………………………………      


 Preliminary Set up-First of all the paths of the maze were labelled with
the help of inserting a paper in the maze. The correct paths were given names
in capital letters while blind alleys were named in small letters of the
English alphabet. Stopwatch was checked for proper functioning. Observation
table to note down the path followed by the subject and time taken in each
trial was made.






The subject was called and seated comfortably. A rapport was established during which her/his details were sought. Thereafter she was given the following instructions-    “I will be blindfolding your eyes and then a maze will be placed before you. It is a wooden board having a starting point and a goal point. It has one correct path and a number of incorrect paths. I will give you a pencil like stylus with the help of which
you have to trace your path. You have to move your stylus in the grooved portion of the maze and not take it out from the groove. I will be giving you a signal of ‘ready’. Thereafter shortly I will give a signal of ‘start’ at which you have to start moving your stylus. I will be timing you so try and learn the maze as fast as you can. Have you understood everything?”

After ensuring that the subject had understood all what she had to do, she was blindfolded and the maze was kept in front of her. She was made to hold the stylus from the top so that her hand does not touch the maze. The signal of ‘ready’ was given. Thereafter, as soon as the ‘start’ signal was given, stopwatch was also started and the path taken by the subject was carefully noted down. In the first trial the subject took
….min….seconds. Same procedure was followed till the subject learnt the maze. The criterion of learning the maze is three consecutive errorless trials (Retracing & blind alley error). The subject took…..trials to learn the


The following were taken care of-

  1. The subject did not get to see the maze before the experiment.
  2. It was assured that the subject held the stylus from the top, so
    that her/his hand may not touch the maze board.
  3. Path followed, time taken and errors committed were noted down
  4. Subject was not allowed to lift the stylus in between a trial.


results section would comprise of:

Qualitative: How did you learn the maze?

Quantitative data:

Table 1:
The path followed and the
time taken by the subject in each trial

No of trials

Followed by the subject

Time in min. &Sec.




Table 2:
The time taken and errors
committed by the subject in each trial


No of Trials

Time taken in sec.

Retracing Errors

Blind Alleys

Total Errors






Two frequency polygraphs have to be prepared.

oy axis-  Time taken in sec

                On o x axis – No of trials

On oy axis- Errors (Retracing ,
blind alleys and total errors)

                On ox axis – No of trials

to ponder:

Students should know the following
before starting the experiment

is learning

of Thorndike

the maze and its types

Also tell them about the following for


learning ?

in the studies on maze learning- Alexander Bain(1855),Lloyd Morgan(1894),
E.L.Thorndike (1898),W.S.Small (1899,1900)

the maze is learned? –

 (1) Husband
(1929-31)- verbal cues, kinesthetic cues, cues of visual imagery.

(2) Underwood (1965)- verbal cues were most used by
student on maze.

(3) Snygg (1955)- Rats used cues of visual imagery.

(4) Watson (1934)& Honzik (1938)- kinaesthetic
& visual imagery cues.



Baron. R.A. (1995). Psychology: The
essential science. New York: Allyn & Bacon.  

Morgan, C.T., King, R.A. Weisz, J.R.,
Schopler, J (2001). Introduction to Psychology. Tata McGraw and Hill.

Woodworth R.S. and Schlosberg H.
(1971).  Experimental Psychology.
Third  edition.


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