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33 Cards in this Set

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A systematic, relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs through experience.

Classical Conditioning

Learning process in which a neutral stimulus becomes associated with an innately meaningful stimulus and acquires the capacity to elicit a similar response

Ivan Pavlov (early 1900s)

Was interested in the way the body digests food. He routinely placed meat powder in a dog's mouth, causing the dog to salivate. He then noticed that the meat powder was not the only stimulus that caused the dog to drool. The dog salivated in response to a number of stimuli associated with the food, such as the sight of the food dish, the sight of the individual who brought the food, and the sound of the door.

Unconditioned Stimulus

A stimulus that produces a response without prior learning

Unconditioned Response

An unlearned reaction that is automatically elicited by the unconditioned stimulus.

Conditioned Stimulus

A previously neutral stimulus that eventually elicits a conditioned response after being paired with the unconditioned stimulus.

Conditioned Response

The learned response to the conditioned stimulus that occurs after conditioned stimulus- unconditioned stimulus pairing.

Neutral Stimulus

A stimulus that did not have any signal value at all.


The tendency of a new stimulus that is similar to the original conditioned stimulus to elicit a response that is similar to the conditioned response.


The process of learning to respond to certain stimuli and not others.


The weakening of the conditioned response when the unconditioned stimulus is absent.

Spontaneous Recovery

The process in classical conditioning by which a conditioned response can recur after a time delay, without further conditioning.

John B Watson and Rosalie Rayner

Coined the term behaviorism. Demonstrated classical conditioning's role in the development of fears with an infant named Albert. They showed Albert a white laboratory rat to see whether he was afraid of it. He was not (so the rat is a neutral stimulus or CS). As he played with the rat, the researchers sounded a loud noise behind him, startling him, and eventually caused him to be scared of the rat.

Operant Conditioning

A form of associative learning in which the consequences of a behavior change the probability of the behavior's occurrence.

E. L. Thorndike Experiment

Established the power of consequences in determining voluntary behavior. He studied cats in puzzle boxes. He put a hungry cat inside a box and placed a piece of fish outside. To escape from the box and obtain the food, the cat had to learn to open the latch inside the box. At first the cat made a number of ineffective responses but after several trials the cat learned how to immediately escape from the box.

Law of Effect

Thorndike's law stating that behaviors followed by positive outcomes are strengthened and that behaviors followed by negative outcomes are weakened.

B. F. Skinner and the Skinner Box

He believed that the mechanisms of learning are the same for all species. He studied pigeons in the hope that he could discover the components of learning with organisms simpler than humans. Attempted to examine the connection between the operant behavior and the specific consequences in minute detail. He put a rat in a box with a device that delivered food pellets into a tray at random. He installed a lever and the rat would press the lever food would be released. The rat learned that the consequences of pressing he lever were positive.


Rewarding successive approximations of a desired behavior.


The process by which a stimulus or event (a reinforcer) following a particular behavior increases the probability that the behavior will happen again.

Positive Reinforcement

The presentation of a stimulus following a given behavior in order to increase the frequency of that behavior.

Negative Reinforcement

The removal of a stimulus following a given behavior in order to increase the frequency of that behavior.

Primary Reinforcer

A reinforcer that is innately satisfying; one that does not take any learning on the organism's part to make it pleasurable.

Secondary Reinforcer

a reinforcer that acquires its positive value through an organism's experience; a secondary reinforcer is a learned or conditioned reinforcer.

Generalization in operant conditioning

Performing a reinforced behavior in a different situation

Continuous Schedules of Reinforcement

A behavior is reinforced every time it occurs. Organisms learn rapidly but when reinforcement stops, extinction takes place quickly.


A consequence that decreases the likelihood that a behavior will occur.

Positive Punishment

The presentation of a stimulus following a given behavior in order to decrease the frequency of that behavior.

Observational Learning

Occurs when a person observes and imitates someone else's behavior.

Albert Bandura, Ross, and Ross- Bobo Doll Experiment

Identified four main processes in observational learning: attention (paying heed to what someone is saying or doing), retention (encoding that information and keeping it in memory so that you can retrieve it), motor reproduction (imitating the actions of the person being observed), and reinforcement (seeing the person attain a reward for the activity). He applied this to a group of children who watched an adult beat a Bobo doll. When the kids were left alone they modeled the behavior they witnessed on the Bobo doll as well.

Discrimination in operant conditioning

Responding appropriately to stimulate that signal that a behavior will or will not be reinforced.

Extinction in operant conditioning

Decreases in the frequency of a behavior when the behavior is no longer reinforced

Partial Schedules of Reinforcement

A reinforcer follows a behavior only a portion of the time. It characterizes most life experiences. Ex) sports players don't win every game.

Negative Punishment

The removal of a stimulus following a given behavior in order to decrease the frequency of that behavior.