The trial-and-error learning proceeds in the following sequence:

1. A hungry animal is placed in a new situation. The hunger drive creates the need to obtain food, and pushes the organism into action.

2. The organism exhibits a set of natural responses (clawing, biting, pushing and pulling) to seek adjustment with the new situation.

3. Accidentally, one of the responses from the organism’s stock of responses turns out to be the correct response in helping it to reach the goal.


4. The successful response is reinforced and hence selected for further practice. The unsuccessful responses are gradually weakened and stamped out. The successful response is strengthened and therefore, stamped in.

5. Gradually, the amount of time taken to exhibit the correct response (response latency) and the number of errors are reduced. The successful response is practiced time and again.

6. Finally, the successful response is strongly connected with the stimulus situation so that its probability of occurrence increases. A definite S-R connection takes place and becomes relatively permanent. This is how learning takes place through trial-and-error.