Kenneth Spence

Psychologist, Author

1907 – 1967

77

Who was Kenneth Spence?

Kenneth Wartenbe Spence was a prominent American psychologist whose theoretical work on learning and motivation complemented the efforts by Clark L. Hull to develop quantitative theories of behavior and came to be known as neo-behaviorism. Spence's analysis of discrimination learning in terms of gradients of excitation and inhibition provided was one of the first to show that mathematical deductions from a quantitative theory could generate interesting and empirically testable predictions.

Spence was a professor at University of Iowa and then at the University of Texas.

Spence did his doctoral work at Yale, where his research was directed by Robert Yerkes, not by Clark Hull, although Spence contributed a great deal to Hull's theory. Indeed, their approach was often referred to as the Hull-Spence theory. His major contributions were his theory of discrimination learning, which is still current, his interpretation of inhibition, and his emphasis on incentive motivation rather than biological drive.

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Born
May 6, 1907
Chicago
Profession
Education
  • Yale University
  • McGill University
Died
Jan 12, 1967

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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