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discriminative stimulus

an even or stimulus that precedes an operant and sets the occassion for operant behavior

defined by its effect on behavior, not by its form

discriminative stimulus

"natural science" approach to understanding behavior regulation

experimental analysis of behavior

what is experimental analysis of behavior concerned with?

controlling and changing the factors that affect behavior


research was directed at observable responses and stimuli

attempted to track down source of 'psychic' secretions led him to discover respondent conditioning



first self proclaimed behaviorist, brought behaviorism to America

suggested all behavior could be understood as conditioned reflexes



research emphasized the events & consequences that follow behavior

first to systematically study operant behavior (trial and error learning)


created by Thorndike

law of effect, puzzle boxes


first real behaviorist to think that thoughts/feelings were important

remote causation

current status of some system is brought about or caused by the long term interactions between the system and the universe of which it is a part

immediate causation

an event (X) immediately preceding some occurrence (Y) is said to cause it if the event produces or results in the occurrence

establishing operation

motivation, makes reinforcer effective

any change in the environment that laters the effectiveness of some stimulus and alters the momentary frequency of the behavior that has been followed by that reinforcement

establishing operation

dependent variable

what you measure; effect; measure of behavior in an organism

independent variable

what you manipulate, change, or control; cause; change in the contingencies of reinforcement


relationship, describes how 2 things are related to each other

reinforcing stimulus

class of stimuli that all have same effect on behavior; increase probability of behavior that produces it

single subject designs

research that is concerned with discovering principles and conditions that govern the behavior of single or individual organisms

emphasize repeated demonstrations of experimental control; importance is placed on repetition

single subject designs

X variable=

independent variable

Y variable=

dependent variable


measure of behavior before the researcher introduces an environmental change

phylogenetic behavior

behavior relations that are based on the genetic endowment of an organism

behavior that aids in survival or procreation; often unlearned behaviors

phylogenetic behavior

fixed action pattern

sequences of behavior that are phylogenetic in origin

dependent on releasing stimulus and once started, cannot be stopped

fixed action pattern

reaction chains

phylogenetic sequences of behavior that requires an environmental stimulus to set off behavior that produces the next set of stimuli that set off the next set of responses in the sequence

stimulus must be present the whole time

reaction chain


when an unconditioned stimulus elicits an unconditioned response

US -> UR


relationship between unconditioned stimulus and unconditioned response


law of threshold

uncertainty region, where roughly 50% of the stimuli that are presented produce a response

law of intensity-magnitude

relationship between the intensity of the eliciting stimulus and the size or magnitude of the elicited response

law of latency

time between the onset of the eliciting stimulus and the appearance of the reflexive response

ontogenetic behavior

unique life history that contributes to behavior

selected at the level of the gene

phylogenetic behavior

selected at the level of the individual

ontogenetic behavior

respondent conditioning

process by which novel stimuli may enter the reflex relationship

when an organism responds to a new event based on a history of pairing with a biologically important stimulus

respondent conditioning

unconditioned stimulus

eliciting event for the reflex

unconditioned response

behavior elicited by the unconditioned stimulus

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