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Psychology and Life (Second Edition) textbook


A process based on experience that results in a relatively permanent change in behavior or behavioral potential

Learning-Performance Distinction

The distinction between what has been learned and what has been portrayed through overt behaviors


A decrease in a behavioral response when a stimulus is presented repeatedly (You stop loving a song after hearing it on the radio everyday)


The behavioral response to stimuli opposite to that seen with habituation; you're response becomes stronger rather then weaker


Peoples view of their own thoughts, feelings and sensations

Behavior analysis

The area of psychology that focuses on environmental determinants of learning and behavior

Classical conditioning

conditioning that pairs a neutral stimulus with a stimulus that evokes a reflex


An unlearned response elicited by specific stimuli that have biological relevance for an organism

Unconditioned stimulus

in classical conditioning, a stimulus that unconditionally—naturally and automatically—triggers a response in the absence of learning

Unconditioned response

in classical conditioning, the unlearned, naturally occurring response to the unconditioned stimulus (US), such as salivation when food is in the mouth.

Conditioned stimulus

in classical conditioning, an originally irrelevant stimulus that, after association with an unconditioned stimulus, comes to trigger a conditioned response

Conditioned response

in classical conditioning, the learned response to a previously neutral (but now conditioned) stimulus (CS).


The stage in classical conditioning during which the conditioned response is first elicited by the conditioned stimulus


In conditioning, the weakening of a conditioned association in the absence of a reinforcer or unconditioned stimulus

spontaneous recovery

The reappearance of an extinguished conditioned response after a rest period

Stimulus generalization

Process by which a conditioned response becomes associated with a stimulus that is similar but not identical to the original conditioned stimulus

Stimulus discrimination

Process by which an organism learns to respond only to a specific stimulus and not to other stimuli

The law of effect

A basic law that states the power of a stimulus that evokes a response will be increased when the response is followed with reward

Operant conditioning

A form of conditioning that observes the increase or decrease in certain behaviors based on consequences


Skinner's term for an actively emitted (or voluntary) behavior that operates on the environment to produce consequences


in operant conditioning, any event that strengthens the behavior it follows

Positive reinforcement

A behavior is followed with something appetitive (pleasant) stimulus, making it more likely that behavior will increase

Negative reinforcement

increasing the strength of a given response by removing or preventing an aversive stimulus when the response occurs

Operant extinction

the weakening and eventual disappearance of a response because it is no longer reinforced


any stimulus or event that functions to decrease the likelihood of the behavior that led to it

Positive punisher

Occurs when something unpleasant occurs after behavior, making it less likely it will happen again

Negative punisher

Occurs when something pleasant is removed after behavior, making it less likely it will happen again

Discriminative stimuli

When an organism learns that, in the presence of some stimuli but not others, they can have some effect on the environment (When the light is green we go, when the light is red we stop or face consequences)

Primary reinforcers

reinforcers that meet an organism's basic needs, such as food and water

Conditioned reinforcers

stimuli that acquire their reinforcing power through their association with primary reinforcers

Partial reinforcement effect

a phenomenon in which behaviors learned under a partial reinforcement schedule are more difficult to extinguish than behaviors learned on a continuous reinforcement schedule


A schedule for reinforcement after a set amount of responses


A schedule for reinforcement after a varying amount of responses


A schedule for reinforcement after a set amount of time


A schedule for reinforcement after varying amount of time


A behavioral method that reinforces responses that successively approximate and ultimately match the desired response.

Instinctual drift

The tendency for learned behavior to drift toward instinctual behavior over time

Taste-aversion learning

A form of learning in which an organism learns to avoid a taste after just one pairing of that taste with illness.

Comparative cognition

The study of the development of cognitive abilities across species and the continuity of abilities from nonhuman to human animals

Cognitive map

A mental representation of physical space

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