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any relatively permanent change in behavior brought about by experience or practice.

classical conditioning

learning to make a reflex response to a stimulus other than the original, natural stimulus that normally produces the reflex.

operant conditioning

the learning of voluntary behavior through the effects of pleasant and unpleasant consequences to responses.

cognitive perspective

modern theory in which classical conditioning is seen to occur because the conditioned stimulus provides information or an expectancy about the coming of the unconditioned stimulus.


involuntary response in both animals and humans.


any object, event, or experience that causes a response.

unconditioned stimulus (UCS)

a naturally occurring stimulus that leads to an involuntary response.

unconditioned response (UCR)

an involuntary response to a naturally occurring or unconditioned stimulus.

conditioned stimulus (CS)

stimulus that becomes able to produce a learned reflex response by being paired with the original unconditioned stimulus.

conditioned response (CR)

learned relfex response to a conditione stimulus.

neutral stimulus (NS)

stimlus that has no effect on the desired response.

stimulus generalization

the tendency to respond to a stimulus that is only similar to the original conditoned stimulus with the conditions response.

stimulus discrimination

the tendency to stop making a generalized response to a stimulus that is similar to the original conditioned stimulus because the similar stimulus is ever paired with the unconditioned stimulus.


the disappearance or weakening of a learned response following the removal or absence of the unconditioned stimulus (in classical conditioning) or the removal of a reinforcer (in operant conditioning).

spontaneous recovery

the reapearance of a learned response after extinction has occurred.

higher-order conditioning

occurs when a strong conditioned stimulus is paired with a neutral stimulus, causing the neutral stimulus to become a second conditioned stimulus.

conditioned emotional response (CER)

emotional response that has become classicallly conditoned to occur to learned stimuli, such as a fear of dogs or the emotional reaction that occurs when seeing an attractive person.

vicarious conditioning

clssical conditoning of a reflex response or emotion by watching the response of another person.

condtioned taste aversion

development of a nausea or aversive response to a particular taste because that taste was followed by a nausea reaction, occurring after only one association.

biological preparedness

referring to the tendency of animals to learn certain associations, such as taste and nausea, with only one or few pairings due to the survival value of the learning.

stimulus substitution

origianl theory in which Pavlov stated that classical conditoning occurred because the conditoned stimulus became a substitute for the unconditoned stimulus by being paired closely together.

law of effect

law stating that if a response is followed by a pleasurable consequence, it will tend to be repeated, and if followed by an unpleasant consequence, it will tend not to be repeated.

Edward L. Thorndike

was one of the first researchers to explore and attempt to outline the las of learning voluntary responses.

B.F. Skinner

was the behaviorist who assumed leadership of the field after John Watson.


any behavior that is voluntary.


any event or stimulus, that when following a response, increases the probability that the response will occur again.

primary reinforcer

any reinforcer that is naturally reinforcing by meeting a basic biological need, such as hunger, thirst, or touch.

secondary reinforcer

any reinforcer that becomes reinforcing after being paired witha primary reinforcer, such as praise , tokens, or gold stars.

positive reinforcement

the reinforcement of a response by the addition or experiencing of a pleasurable stimulus

negative reinforcement

the reinforcement of a response by the removal, escape from, or avoidance of an unpleasant stimulus.


always decreases the likelihood of a behavior happening again, weakens responses.

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