Chapter 6 Learning

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Learning is a relatively permanent change in behavior and mental processes due to experience.

What is learning?

Classical Conditioning

Learning that occurs when a previously neutral stimulus is paired (associated) with an unconditioned stimulus to cause a conditioned response.

Unconditioned Stimulus

Stimulus that causes an unconditioned response without previous conditioning.

Unconditioned Response

Unlearned reaction to an unconditioned stimulus that occurs without previous conditioning.

Neutral Stimulus

Stimulus that, before conditioning, does not naturally bring about the response of interest.

Conditioned Stimulus

Previously neutral stimulus, that, through repeated pairings with an unconditioned stimulus , now causes a conditioned response.

Conditioned Response

Learned reaction to a conditioned stimulus that occurs because of previous repeated pairs with an unconditioned stimulus


Explains behavior as a result of observable stimuli (in the environment) and observable responses (behavioral actions)

Conditioned Emotional Response

Classically conditioned emotional response to a previously neutral stimulus (NS)


Basic classical conditioning when a neutral stimulus is consistently paired with an unconditioned stimulus so that the NS comes to elicit a conditioned response.

Delayed conditioning

NS presented before UCS and remains until UCR begins, Example: Tone presented before food, this is the most effective

Simultaneous conditioning

NS presented at the same time as UCS, Example:Tone and food presented simultaneously

Trace conditioning

NS presented and then taken away, or ends before UCS and presented, Example: tone sounds, but food only presented once the sound stops

Backward conditioning

UCS presented before NS, Example: Food presented before the tone, this is the least effective

Stimulus generalization

Stimuli similar to the original conditioned stimuli elicit a conditioned response

Stimulus discrimination

This process of learning responses to a specific stimulus , but not to other similar stimuli; Only the conditioned stimulus causes the conditioned response


Repeatedly presenting the CS without the UCS, which gradually weakens the CR.

Spontaneous Recovery

The reappearance of a condtioned response after extinction.

Higher-order conditioning

Neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus through repeated pairings with a previously conditioned stimulus

Operant Conditioning

Learning through the consequences of voluntary behavior; also known as instructural or Skimerian conditioning


Strengthens a response and makes it more likely to recur


Weakens a response and makes it less likely to recur

Law of effect

Thorndike's rule that the probabilty of an action being repeated is strengthened when it is followed by a pleasant or satisfying consequence.

Primary reinforcers

Stimuli that increase the probability of a response because they satisfy an unlearned, biological need such as food, water, and sex.

Secondary reinforcers

Stimuli that increase the probability of a response because of their learned value such as money and material possessions.

Positive reinforcement

Adding or presenting a stimulus, which strengthens a response and makes it more likely to recur.

Negative reinforcement

Taking away or removing a stimulus, which strengthens a response and makes it more likely to recur.

Premack Principle

Using a naturally occuring high-frequency response to reinforce and increase low-frequency responses.

Continuous reinforcement

Every correct response is reinforced.

Partial (Intermittent) Reinforcement

Some, but not all, correct responses are reinforced.

Fixed Ratio

Reinforcement occurs after a predetermined set of responses; the ratio (number or amount) is fixed.

Variable Ratio

Reinforcement occurs unpredictably; the ratio varies.

Variable Interval

Reinforcement occurs unpredictably; the interval (time varies)

Fixed Interval

Reinforcement occurs after a predetermined time has elapsed; the interval is fixed.


Reinforcement delivered for successive approximations of the desired response.

Positive punishment

Adding or presenting a stimulus that weakens a response and makes it less likely to recur.

Negative punishment

Taking away or removing a stimulus that weakens a response and makes it less likely to recur.

Discriminative Stimulus

Cue signaling when a specific response will lead to the expected reinforcement

Cognitive-Social Theory

Emphasizes the roles of thinking and social learning in behavior.


Sudden understanding of a problem that implies the solution.

Cognitive Map

Mental image of a three-dimensional space that an organism has navigated.

Latent Learning

Hidden Learning that exists without behavioral signs

Observational Learning

Learning new behaviors or information by watching and imitating others (also known as social learning or modeling)

Taste aversion

Classically conditioned negative reaction to a particular taste that has been associated with nausea or other illness

Biological Preparedness

Built in-(innate) readiness to form associations between certain stimuli and responses.


Involuntary bodily process (such as blood pressure or heart rate) is recorded, and the information is fed back to an organism to increase voluntary control over that bodily function

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