TOTE: Test - Operate - Test - Exit

This is a model of learning/information processing developed by G. Miller. It has been picked up as a basic change strategy by Neurolinguistic Programming. Some computer scientists also use this model in their approach to programming, particularly when using loops. This model is also closely related to the thought loop theory of consciousness.

Miller suggested that this model should replace Pavlov's model of classical conditioning as the basic unit of behavior, however it seems the TOTE model is more similar to operant conditioning and should therefore be considered separate.

In essence, what this model states is that you check to see whether a goal has been reached (Test / calibrate), if not you do something to reach the goal (Operate) then Test again. You continue until you either achieve the goal or give up on the goal (Exit).

An example can be seen in a child learning to walk. The child first observes that he is unable to walk (test), so he tries to stand up first (operate), after falling down the child observes that he has not reached his goal (test), so he continues through the cycle until he is able to walk (exit). This is what people refer to as "trial and error" learning, or "learning from experience."

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