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Association psychology is a direction in psychology that
will explain all compound mental phenomena by means of
association laws, the most important being association by
closeness (simultaneous impressions will be associated with
each other) and equality (one impression or notion makes us
think of something that air).
This direction is based on an atomistic view of human
soul life: all states of consciousness can be dissolved into
certain elements that have the same independence as the
stones of a mosaic work, which are mechanically joined
together into a whole.
Historically, the psychology of association has evolved
in close connection with the atomistic worldview; it can be
traced in the Epicureans and Stoics, but is mainly a modern
phenomenon; of particular importance has been the English
philosophy from and
including Hobbes and Locke. Through David Hartley (Observations
on Man, 1749), the psychology of association becomes a
major direction in Western European thinking; it is
supported by Hume and Condillac, continued in the 19th
century by Johann Friedrich Herbart, James Mill, Alexander
Bain and John Stuart Mill.
The assumption that the most important link between
psychological bases is of associative nature was accepted by
representatives of the first experimental psychology (Ebbinghaus, Titchener),
and later by the behavioral stimulus-response psychology,
but was sharply criticized by the Gestalt psychologists.