Trial And Error

Trial and error is a problem solving method in which multiple attempts are made to reach a solution. It is a basic method of learning that essentially all organisms use to learn new behaviors. Trial and error is trying a method, observing if it works, and if it doesn’t trying a new method. This process is repeated until success or a solution is reached.

For example imagine moving a large object such as a couch into your house. You first try to move it in through the front door and it gets stuck. You then try it through the back door and it doesn’t fit. You then move it through the double patio doors and it fits! You just used trial and error to solve a problem. Edward Thorndike, a researcher who studied learning theory by using cats and a specially made ‘puzzle box.’ He studied how cats learned to escape from the box and concluded it was through trial and error. This was a shift from the theory of insight learning which proposes that problem solving happens in a sudden flash of understanding rather than through trial and error.