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Unit 6 Vocabulary for Myer's Psychology for AP


a relatively permanent change in an organism's behavior due to experience


an organism's decreasing response to a stimulus with repeated exposure to it

associative learning

learning that certain events occur together. The events may be two stimuli (as in classical conditioning) or a response and its consequences (as in operant conditioning

classical conditioning

a type of learning in which one learns to link two or more stimuli and anticipate events


the view that psychology: (1) should be an objective science that (2) studies behavior without reference to mental processes. Most research psychologists today agree with (1) but not with (2)

unconditioned response (UR)

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

unconditioned stimulus (US)

in classical conditioning, a stimulus that unconditionally - naturally and automatically - triggers a response

conditioned response (CR)

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

conditioned stimulus (CS)

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


in classical conditioning, the initial stage, when one links a neutral stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus so that the neutral stimulus begins triggering the conditioned response. In operant conditioning, the strengthening of a reinforced response

higher-order conditioning

a procedure in which the conditioned stimulus in one conditioning experience is paired with a new neutral stimulus, creating a second (often weaker) conditioned stimulus. (For example, an animal that has learned that a tone predicts food might then learn that a light predicts the tone and begin responding to the light alone.) (Also called Second-Order Conditioning)


the diminishing of a conditioned response; occurs in classical conditioning when a unconditioned stimulus (US) does not follow a conditioned stimulus (CS); occurs in operant condition when a response is no longer reinforced

spontaneous recovery

the reappearance, after a pause, of an extinguished conditioned response


the tendency, once a response has been conditioned, for stimuli similar to the conditioned stimulus to elicit responses


in classical conditioning, the learned ability to distinguish between a conditioned stimulus and stimuli that do not signal an unconditioned stimulus

learned helplessness

the hopelessness and passive resignation an animal or human learns when unable to avoid repeated aversive events

respondent behavior

behavior that occurs as an automatic response to some stimulus

operant conditioning

a type of learning in which behavior is strengthened if followed by a reinforce or diminished followed by a punisher

operant behavior

behavior that operates on the environment, producing consequences

law of effect

Thorndike's principle that behaviors followed by faborable consequences become more like, that behaviors followed by unfavorable consequences become less likely

operant chamber

in operant conditioning research, a chamber (also known as a Skinner box) containing a bar or key that an animal can manipulate to obtain food or water reinforce; attached devices record the animal's rate of bar pressing or key pecking


an operant conditioning procedure in which reinforcers guide behavior toward closer and closer approximations of the desired behavior

discriminative stimulus

in operant conditioning, a stimulus that elicits a response after association with reinforcement (in contrast to related stimuli not associated with reinforcement)


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

positive reinforcement

increasing behaviors by presenting positive stimuli, such as food. A positive reinforce in any stimulus that, when presented after a response, strengthens the response

negative reinforcement

increasing behaviors by stopping or reducing negative stimuli, such as shock. A negative reinforce is any stimulus that, when removed after a response, strengthens the response (negative reinforcement is not punishment)

primary reinforce

an innately reinforcing stimulus, such as one that satisfies a biological need

conditioned reinforcer

a stimulus that gains its reinforcing power through its association with a primary reinforce; also known as a secondary reinforce

continuous reinforcement

reinforcing the desired response every time it occurs

partial (intermittent) reinforcement

reinforcing a response only part of the time; results in slower acquisition of a response but much greater resistance to extinction than does continuous reinforcement

fixed-ratio schedule

in operant conditioning, a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response only after a specified number of responses

variable-ratio schedule

in operant conditioning, a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response after an unpredictable number of responses

fixed-interval schedule

in operant conditioning, a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response only after a specified time has elapsed

variable-interval schedule

in operant conditioning, a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response at unpredictable time intervals


an event that decreases the behavior that it follows

cognitive map

a mental representation of the layout of one's environment. (For example, after exploring a maze, rats act as if they have learned a cognitive map of it)

latent learning

learning that occurs but is not apparent until there is an incentive to demonstrate it


a sudden and often novel realization of the solution to a problem

intrinsic motivation

a desire to perform a behavior effectively for its own sake

extrinsic motivation

a desire to perform a behavior to receive promised rewards or avoid threatened punishment

observational learning

learning by observing others (also social learning)


the process of observing and imitating a specific behavior

mirror neurons

frontal lobe neurons that fire when performing certain actions or when observing another doing so. The brain's mirroring of another's actions may enable imitation and empath

prosocial behavior

positive, constructive, helpful behavior. The opposite of antisocial behavior

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