Developments in Associative Theory: A Tribute to the Contributions of Robert A. Rescorla

Ruth M. Colwill, Andrew R. Delamater, K. Matthew Lattal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The field of associative learning theory was forever changed by the contributions of Robert A. Rescorla. He created an organizational structure that gave us a framework for thinking about the key questions surrounding learning theory: what are the conditions that produce learning?, what is the content of that learning?, and how is that learning expressed in performance? He gave us beautifully sophisticated experimental designs that tackled deep theoretical problems in experimentally clever and elegant ways. And he left us with a collection of work that fundamentally altered the way we as a field think about basic learning processes. Few scientists have impacted their field in the way that Rescorla impacted animal learning theory. In this paper, we introduce this special issue (Developments in Associative Theory: A Tribute to Robert A. Rescorla) by considering some of the many ways in which Rescorla’s empirical and theoretical contributions impacted learning theory over his almost 50-year career. We conclude by identifying multiple fundamental issues we think he would have found especially fruitful to pursue as we continue to move forward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-264
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of experimental psychology. Animal learning and cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022


  • Extinction
  • Instrumental learning
  • Learningperformance problem
  • Pavlovian conditioning
  • Rescorla-wagner model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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