Associationist – Definition & Meaning

Associationist is a term used to describe a person who believes in the concept of associationism, which is a psychological theory that suggests that the mind works by associating one idea with another. This theory has been influential in the development of modern psychology and has been used to explain various aspects of human behavior.


According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an associationist is “a psychologist who believes that mental processes can be explained by the association of ideas.” Similarly, the Oxford English Dictionary defines an associationist as “a person who believes in or advocates associationism.”


The term associationist has its roots in the philosophical and psychological theories developed during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Scottish philosopher David Hume is often credited with developing the concept of associationism, which was later expanded upon by other philosophers and psychologists.

Meaning in different dictionaries

In addition to the definitions provided by Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary, other dictionaries also provide definitions of associationist. For example, the Cambridge Dictionary defines an associationist as “a person who believes that ideas are connected in the mind by association.”


Associationism is often associated with the work of David Hume, as well as other philosophers and psychologists such as John Locke, George Berkeley, and James Mill. The concept of associationism has also been used to explain various aspects of human behavior, including language acquisition, memory, and learning.


Synonyms for associationist include associationism, associationistic, and associationistic psychology.


Antonyms for associationist include dissociationist, dissociationism, and dissociationistic psychology.

The same root words

The root word of associationist is association, which refers to the act of connecting or linking one idea with another.

Example Sentences

  • The associationist theory suggests that our thoughts and behaviors are shaped by the connections we make between different ideas.
  • Many psychologists who study memory and learning are associationists, believing that we remember things better when we can associate them with other ideas or concepts.
  • The associationist approach to language acquisition suggests that children learn language by associating words with their meanings and by hearing examples of how those words are used in context.
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