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Vocab concerning classical and operant conditioning, reinforcement, punishment, ect.


relatively permanent change in behavior acquired through experience

Classical Conditioning

process of learning by which a previously neutral stimulus comes to elicit an identical or similar response to one originally eicited by another stimulus as the result of the pairing of the two stimuli

Unconditioned response

unlearned response to a stimulus

Unconditioned stimulus

Stimulus that elicits an unlearned response

Neutral simulus

stimulus that before conditioning doesn't produce a particular response

Conditioned response

acquired or learned response to a conditioned stimulus

Conditioned Stimulus

previously neutral stimulus that comes to elicit a conditioned response after it has been paired with an unconditioned stimulus


gradual weakening and eventual disappearance of a conditioned response

Spontaneous recovery

spontaneous return of a conditioned response following extinction


process of relearning a conditioned response following extinction

Stimulus generalization

tendency for stimuli that are similar to the conditioned stimulus to elicit a conditioned response

Stimulus discrimination

tendency to differentiate among stimuli so that stimuli that are related to the original conditioned stimulus, but not identical to it, fail to elicit a conditioned response

Higher-order conditioning

process by which a new stimulus comes to elicit a conditioned response as a result of its being paired with a conditioned stimlus that already elicits the conditioned response

Conditioned emotional reaction

emotional response to a particular stimulus acquired through classical conditioning


excessive fears of particular objects or situations

Behavior therapy

form of therapy that involves the systematic application of the principles of learning

Conditioned taste aversions

aversions to particular tatses acquired through classical conditioning

Immune system

body's system of defense against disease

Law of Effect

Thorndike's principle that responses that have satisfying effects are more likely to recur, while those that have unpleasant effects are less likely to recur

Radical behaviorism

philosophical position that free will is an illusion or myth and that human and animal behavior is completely determined by environmental and genetic influences


stimulus event that strengthens the response it follows

Operant conditioning

process of learning in which the manipulation of the consequences of a response influences the likelihood or probability of the response occurring

Skinner box

experimental apparatus developed by B.F. Skinner for studying relationships between reinforcement and behavior

Superstitious behavior

behavior acquired through coincidental association of a response and a reinforcement

Discriminative stimulus

cue that signals that reinforcement is available if the subject makes a particular response

Positive reinforcement

strengthening of a response through the introduction of a stimulus following the response

Negative reinforcement

strengthening of a response through the removal of a stimulus after the response occurs

Primary reinforcers

reinforcers that are naturally rewarding because they satisfy basic biological needs or drives

Secondary reinforcers

learned reinforcers that develop their reinforcing properties because of their association with primary reinforcers


process of learning that involves the reinforcement of increasingly closer approximations of the desired response

Method of successive approximations

method used to shape behavior that involves reinforcing ever-closer approximations of the desired response

Schedules of reinforcement

predetermined plans for timing the delivery of reinforcement

Schedule of continuous reinforcement

system of dispensing a reinforcement each time a response is produced

Schedule of partial reinforcement

system of dispensing a reinforcement for only a portion of responses

Escape learning

learning of behaviors that allow an organism to escape from an aversive stimulus

Avoidance learning

learning of behaviors that allow an organism to avoid an aversive stimulus


introduction of an aversive stimulus or the removal of a reinforcing stimulus after a response occurs, which leads to the weakening or suppression of the response

Behavior modification

systematic application of learning principles to strengthen adaptive behavior and weaken maladaptive behavior

Token economy program

form of behavior modification in which tokens earned for performing desired behaviors can be exchanged for positive reinforcers

Programmed instruction

learning method in which complex material is broken down into a series of small steps that learners master at their own pace

Conputer-assisted instruction

form of programmed instruction in which a computer is used to guide a student through a series of increasingly difficult questions

Cognitive learning

learning that occurs without the opportunity of first performing the learned response or being reinforced for it

Insight learning

process of mentally working through a problem until the sudden realization of a solution occurs

Latent learning

learning that occurs without apparent reinforcement and that is not displayed until reinforcement is provided

Cognitive map

mental representation of an area that helps an organism navigate its way from one point to another

Implicit learning

learning without conscious awareness of what is learned

Observational learning

learning by observing and imitating the behavior of others

Ivan Pavlov

Russian physiologist

B. F. Skinner

American psychologist

John Watson

English psychologist and educator

Pavlovian puppies

Bells were rung at the same time dogs were fed until dogs were conditioned to salivate at bell; Pavlov

Little Albert

Children played with white rat; bell sounded to frighten them; children feared furry objects because they were associated with the frightening bell; Watson

Skinner's rats and pigeons

Trained to perform simple acts to trigger positive reinforcement of act while in skinner box

John Garcia

fed wolves contaminated sheep carcasses until they grew to avoid sheep entirely


Fear of heights


Fear of spiders


Fear of flying


Fear of confined spaces


Fear of clowns


Fear of sameness, monotony or of homosexuality or of becoming homosexual


May be conditioned responses elicited by stimuli that were associated with pleasant experiences in the past


drug cravings and taste aversions may be acquired through classical conditioning

Immune-system responses

Possible to manipulate immune system with classical conditioning

Puzzle box

Cats escaped Thorndike's box through trial-and-error

Red/Green lights

Green light signals driving through intersection will likely be reinforced by safe passage

Positive reinforcement example

child brushes teeth before bed --> parent praises child --> tooth-brushing increases

Negative reinforcement example

take aspirin for headache --> headache goes away --> use of aspirin in future more likely for headache pain

Punishment example

bite red pepper --> tongue burns --> avoid red peppers

Omission training example

child hits child --> bad child put in time out --> child doesn't hit anymore

Fixed-ratio schedule

reinforcement given after specific number of correct responses

Variable-ratio schedule

number of correct responses needed before reinforcement varies

Fixed-interval schedule

reinforcement given for correct response after fixed amount of time

Variable-interval schedule

amount of elapsed time before reinforcement varies

Fixed-ratio schedule example

piecework schedule

Variable-ratio schedule example


Fixed-interval schedule example

animal in Skinner box has 30 seconds to make correct response

Variable-interval schedule example

pop quizes

Primary reinforcer example

food, water, sex

Secondary reinforcer example


Escape learning example

motorist learns detours to escape traffic jams

Avoidance learning example

person leaves work early to avoid heavy traffic

Extinction example

Girl stops calling out in class when teacher fails to acknowledge her

Operant conditioning principles

used in biofeedback training, behavior modification, and programmed instruction

Insight learning example

person arrives at solution to problem after thinking from different angle

Latent learning example

person learns song lyrics, but doesn't sing until friends begin to sing

Observational learning example

child imitates older sibling

Giving praise

avoid empty flattery, use hugs, make eye contact

Spontaneous recovery example

fear of dentistry returns after months without a visit

Stimulus generalization example

person experiences fear when visiting office of new dentist

Stimulus discrimination example

person responds fearfully to dentist's drill, but not to dentist's mirror or brush

higher-order conditioning example

person cringes when they hear dentist's name

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