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Learning and Conditioning

Quick Review

Observational Learning

Review Questions

Classical Conditioning

  • Ivan Pavlov was the first to describe classical conditioning, the type of learning in which a subject comes to respond to a neutral stimulus as he would to another stimulus by learning to associate the two stimuli.
  • An unconditioned response is the naturally occurring response; an unconditioned stimulus is the stimulus that evokes an innate response. A conditioned response is the learned response; a conditioned stimulus is the learned or associated stimulus.
  • A conditioned response is acquired when a conditioned stimulus is paired with an unconditioned stimulus.
  • Extinction is the gradual weakening and disappearance of a conditioned response. Spontaneous recovery is the reappearance of an extinguished conditioned response when the conditioned stimulus returns after a period of absence.
  • Stimulus generalization is the tendency to respond to a new stimulus as if it is the original conditioned stimulus. Stimulus discrimination is the tendency to lack a conditioned response to a new stimulus that’s similar to the original conditioned stimulus.
  • Higher-order conditioning occurs when a neutral stimulus comes to act as a conditioned stimulus by being paired with another stimulus that already evokes a conditioned response.

Operant Conditioning

  • Operant conditioning is a type of learning in which responses come to be controlled by their consequences.
  • B. F. Skinner used a device called a Skinner box to study operant conditioning in rats. He set up the boxes so that the rats could automatically get rewards or punishments for particular types of responses.
  • Reinforcement is delivery of a consequence that increases the likelihood that a response will occur. Positive reinforcement is the presentation of a stimulus after a response. Negative reinforcement is the removal of a stimulus after a response.
  • Punishment is the delivery of a consequence that decreases the likelihood that a response will occur. Positive punishment is the presentation of a stimulus after a response. Negative punishment is the removal of a stimulus after a response.
  • Primary reinforcers and punishers are naturally satisfying and unpleasant, respectively. Secondary reinforcers and punishers are satisfying or unpleasant, respectively, because they’ve become associated with primary reinforcers or punishers.
  • Shaping is a procedure in which reinforcement is used to guide a response closer and closer to a desired response.
  • A reinforcement schedule is the pattern in which reinforcement is given over time. Reinforcement can be continuous or intermittent.
  • Intermittent reinforcement schedules include fixed-ratio, variable-ratio, fixed-interval, and variable-interval schedules.
  • In operant conditioning, extinction is the gradual disappearance of a response when it stops being reinforced.
  • A discriminative stimulus is a cue that indicates the kind of consequence that is likely to occur after a response. Stimulus discrimination is the tendency for a response to occur only when a particular stimulus is present.
  • In operant conditioning, stimulus generalization is the tendency to respond to a new stimulus as if it’s the original discriminative stimulus.

Biological Influences

  • Biological factors can limit conditioning.
  • Aversion to a particular taste can be conditioned only by pairing the taste with nausea.
  • Instinctive drift is the tendency for conditioning to be hindered by natural instincts.

Cognitive Influences

  • Conditioning involves higher mental processes, as it depends on the predictive power of the conditioned stimulus rather than mere association of stimuli.

Observational Learning

  • Observational learning is the process of learning to respond in a particular way by watching others, or models.
  • Albert Bandura conducted experiments showing that children who watched adults behaving aggressively were more likely to behave aggressively themselves.

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