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Vocab from Apex Learning and Psychology, AP Edition with Discovery Psychology


the second stage in Piaget's theory of cognitive development, occurring from ages 2-7; during this stage, children are capable of using symbols in their thinking, but they lack the ability to perform logical operations

primary reinforcer

a reinforcer that meets a basic biological need


a transfer of a response learned from one stimulus to a similar stimulus

continuous reinforcement schedule

a schedule in which every instance of the target behavior is reinforced

spontaneous recovery

the quick reoccurrence of a previously extinguished response when the reinforcer for the response is reintroduced


an example of a counterconditioning process


anything that follows a behavior and causes the behavior to decrease

schedule of reinforcement

a plan for how frequently a target behavior will be reinforced

operant conditioning

a type of conditioning in which the organism learns an association between a voluntary behavior and its consequences

classical conditioning

originally discovered by Ivan Pavlov; a form of learning in which a subject learns an association between two stimuli. First, a stimulus produces an automatic, unlearned response. The unconditioned stimulus is then paired with a neutral stimulus until the subject learns the association between the two stimuli, and the subject responds to the conditioned stimulus present alone

fixed schedule of reinforcement

a schedule in which reinforcement occurs after a consistent, or fixed number of responses (fixed ratio,) or after a consistent amount of time (fixed interval)

token economy

in operant conditioning, when one can earn tokens or some other reinforcer for certain behaviors

positive reinforcement

anything that causes a behavior to increase by administering something desirable in response to the behavior

neutral stimulus

a stimulus that does not provoke any particular response; in classical conditioning, a neutral stimulus (NS) is paired with the unconditioned stimulus (UCS until the organism learns the association between the two stimuli; the NS then becomes the conditioned stimulus (CS)

secondary reinforcer

a reinforcer that does not in and of itself meet a basic biological need, but it can be exchanged for primary reinforcers, which would meet a basic biological need; money is an example, because it can be exchanged for food or shelter

discrimination (race relations)

unjustifiable negative behavior toward another group or its members

Little Albert

the little boy who was conditioned by John Watson and Rosalie Raynor to be afraid of a white rat; Watson and Raynor used classical conditioning to pair the rat with a loud noise, until he began to exhibit fear in response to the rat


anything that follows a behavior and causes the behavior to increase

partial reinforcement schedule

a schedule of reinforcement in which only certain instances of desired behaviors are reinforced; fall into four types: fixed ratio, fixed interval, variable ratio, and variable interval schedules

conditioned stimulus

in classical conditioning, the neutral stimulus that is paired with the unconditioned stimulus to provoke the conditioned response


the process of reinforcing successive approximations of the desired behavior until the organism is performing the desired behavior in its entirety

discrimination (learning)

the cognitive process whereby two or more stimuli are distinguished


in operant conditioning, the disappearance of a behavior due to a previously reinforced behavior no longer being reinforced

negative reinforcement

anything that causes a behavior to increase by removing an adverse condition in response to the behavior, like taking aspirin to remove a headache

unconditioned stimulus (UCS)

a stimulus that provokes an innate, unlearned response

conditioned response

in classical conditioning, the response that has to be learned

variable schedule of reinforcement

a partial schedule of reinforcement in which the reinforcer is delivered after either varying numbers of responses or varying lengths of time

unconditioned response (UCR)

the unlearned, innate response to an unconditioned stimulus

stimulus generalization

a phenomenon in classical conditioning in which the conditioned response occurs in response to stimuli that are similar, but not identical, to the conditioned stimulus

ratio schedule of reinforcement

a partial reinforcement schedule in which the organism is reinforced based upon the number of instances of the desired behavior; there can be fixed ratio schedules or variable ratio schedules


an interruption in the flow of thought

simultaneous conditioning

CS and UCS are presented at the same time

delayed conditioning

CS is presented before UCS, but the two overlap

trace conditioning

CS is presented and then taken away before the UCS is presented

backward conditioning

UCS is presented before CS; makes acquisition difficult

temporal conditioning

time functions as CS; the learner comes to expect that the stimulus will come at particular times


the strength of a response pairing


something that comes from an external source

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