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any relatively permanent change in the behavior, thoughts, or feelings of an individual that results from experience.


a phenomenon in which a person gradually becomes more familiar with a stimulus and notices it less and less; in dishabituation, a once-familiar stimulus changes to become unfamiliar, so the person notices the stimulus once again.


an inherited, species-specific, stereotyped, and often relatively complex pattern of behavior.


a preprogrammed response in which a newborn animal looks for a particular kind of stimulus and then carries out the response; the specific stimulus that prompts the response is learned.

classical conditioning

the learning progress whereby an originally neutral stimulus becomes associated with a particular psychological or emotional response that the stimulus did not originally produce.

US-unconditional stimulus

a stimulus that elicits a physiological or emotional response.

UR-unconditioned response

an automatic physiological or emotional response to an unconditional stimulus.

CS-conditioned stimulus

an originally neutral stimulus that later will elicit a physiological or emotional response.

CR-conditioned response

a response similar to the unconditioned response, but that is elicited from the conditioned stimulus rather than the unconditioned stimulus.


a phenomenon in which one or more stimuli depend on the presence of another stimulus.


a phase of learning when the probability of the conditioned response decreases over time, eventually approaching zero.

stimulus generalization

a response to the observed similarity of a stimulus to the conditioned stimulus, which increases the likelihood that the conditioned response will occur following presentation of the stimulus.

stimulus discrimination

a response to the observed difference between a new stimulus and the original conditioned stimulus, which makes it less likely that the new stimulus will lead to a conditioned response.

operant conditioning

the process of increasing or decreasing the likelihood that an individual with produce an active behavior (an operant) as a result of interacting with the environment.


a kind of response that has some effect on the world


a stimulus event that increases the probability that the operant associated with it will be repeated.

positive reinforcer

a positive stimulus even that follows an operant and strengthens the associated behavioral response

positive reinforcement

the effect of a positive reinforcer (stimulus event) soon after the operant (response)

negative reinforcement

the effect of the removal or cessation of an unpleasant stimulus, such as physical or psychological pain or discomfort

negative reinforcer

an unpleasant stimulus event that is removed following an operant response, thereby leading to an increased probability that the operant will be repeated


the effect of the delivery of a stimulus event that decreases the probability of an associated response; results from either presenting an unpleasant stimulus or removing a pleasant one.

aversive conditioning

the use of punishment as a means of encouraging an individual to try to escape of avoid a situation

avoidance learning

the goal of aversive conditioning; an individual learns to stay away from something.

learned helplessness

a learned behavior in which an individual gives ip trying to escape from a painful situation after repeatedly failing to escape.

gradient of reinforcement

a phenomenon in which increases in the length of time between operant and reinforcer directly decrease the effect of the reinforcement.

primary reinforcer

a stimulus that provides an immediate reinforcement that satisfies the senses.

secondary reinforcer

a stimulus that gains reinforcing value through association with a primary reinforcer


bring behavior under control by providing a program of reinforcement

successive approximations

a method for shaping behavior by gradually reinforcing operants that are increasingly more similar to the desired behavior.

continuous reinforcement

a learning program in which reinforcement always follows a particular operant behavior

schedules of reinforcement

the patterns by which reinforcement follow operants

partial-reinforcement schedule

an operant-conditioning program in which a given operant is reinforced at some times but not at other times.

social learning

the learning that occurs by observing the behavior of others, as well as by observing any environmental outcomes of behavior.

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