Social Research Glossary


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Home


Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


A fast-paced novel of conjecture and surprises



core definition

Associationism is a classical approach found in psychology (in Britain) that takes association to be the fundamental principle of mental processes.

explanatory context

It adopts an approach analogous to classical mechanics. It assumes a model of consciousness as comprising atoms of consciousness that operate in ways similar to atoms in the physical world.


Associationism essentially argues that associations are built up between things that occur together.


Associationism is experienced a revival in the sphere of artificial intelligence via connectionism.


David Hume, David Hartley, James Mill, J.S. Mill and Hebert Spencer are classical associationists.


David Hartley (1705–57) was an English psychologist (philosopher and physician) who argued that complex thought processes could be analysed into their component elementary sense impressions. Thus, he argued, all psychological acts should then be explainable by a single law of association. Hartley's view of the physical unity of body and mind and the causal interrelation of the two was quite influential in the development of the associationist approach to the analysis of psychology. Hartley's major work was Observations on Man, His Frame, His Duty and His Expectations (1749).

analytical review

associated issues


related areas

See also



copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Home