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C.Lloyd Morgan - also famous for his beard.

C. Lloyd Morgan (Conwy Lloyd Morgan) (6 February 1852 - 6 March 1936) was a British psychologist. He is best remembered for the experimental approach to animal psychology now known as "Morgan's canon".

Lloyd Morgan was born in London and studied at the Royal School of Mines and subsequently under T. H. Huxley. He taught in Cape Town, but in 1884 joined the staff of the then University College, Bristol as Professor of Geology and Zoology, and carried out some research of local interest in those fields. But he quickly became interested in the field he called "mental evolution", the borderland between intelligence and instinct, and in 1901 moved to become the college's first Professor of Psychology and Education.

As a specialised form of Occam's razor, Morgan's canon played a critical role in the growth of behaviourism in twentieth century academic psychology. The canon states In no case may we interpret an action as the outcome of the exercise of a higher mental faculty, if it can be interpreted as the exercise of one which stands lower in the psychological scale. For example, an entity should only be considered conscious if there is no other explanation for its behaviour. As the study of animal cognition has become popular, a disciplined use of Lloyd Morgan's canon has become important.

The development of Morgan's canon derived partly from his careful observations of behaviour, which provided convincing examples of cases where behaviour that seemed to imply higher mental processes could in fact be explained by simple trial and error learning (what we would now call operant conditioning). An example is the skilful way in which his terrier Tony opened the garden gate, easily understood as an insightful act by someone seeing the final behaviour. Lloyd Morgan, however, had watched and recorded the series of approximations by which the dog had gradually learned the response, and could demonstrate that no insight was required to explain it.

As well as his scientific work, Lloyd Morgan was active in academic administration. He became Principal of the University College, Bristol, in 1891 and consequently played a central role in the campaign to secure it full university status. In 1909, when, with the award of a Royal Charter, the college became the University of Bristol, he was appointed as its first Vice-Chancellor,[1] an office he held for a year before deciding to become Professor of Psychology and Ethics until his retirement in 1919.[2] He was president of the Aristotelian Society from 1926 to 1927. He died in Hastings.

Following retirement, Morgan delivered a series of Gifford Lectures at University of St Andrews in 1921 and 1922. In them he helped develop the concept of emergent evolution.



He invented the Lloyd's rod, that nowadays is used to educated dogs in Germany and in the south of Chile


  1. Bristol University - Former Officers. University of Bristol. URL accessed on 2007-06-22.
  2. Papers of the University of Bristol. Archives Hub. URL accessed on 2007-06-22.


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