Principles of Learning – Lecture 3
* Study lecture notes, & use textbook only to expand upon what is learned in lecture (e.g.
graphs, studies, etc.)
- Behaviour refers to a set of responses of organism, usually in relation to environmental
- Two “sides”:
Instinctual: genetically programmed bits of behaviour that occur when
circumstances are appropriate, rigid, require no learning, may be species specific
Learned: behaviours adapted to the environment, relatively flexible & open to
Generally blends of the two (e.g. eating food is instinctual, but preference for
food may be learned)
- Psychological (William James)
Instincts are motivators of behaviour. They are impulses coming from within the
organism that lead to the initiation of behaviour (modesty, jealousy, shyness, &
- Fuel for your actions.
- Ethology (Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen)
Instincts are behaviours. They exist because they have, or had, survival value. They
are controlled by genes, & therefore not learned. However, instinctive behaviours differ
in terms of degree of sensitivity to changes in the environment.
- Appetitive: searching behaviours that are flexible, adapted to the environment,
& subject to modification through learning (e.g. dog will do anything to get you to
give it food).
- Consummatory: least flexible – fixed patterns of responding to specific stimuli.
These behaviours are rigid, insensitive to the environment, highly stereotyped &
independent from learning. These behaviours are known as Fixed Action Patterns.
(e.g. sneezing, crying)
All behaviours need a stimulus & some energy.
- Sign (key) stimuli: a kind of stimulus that will cause a stereotyped response, a clear
object that activates the fixed action pattern.
EX. dog preying on deer (video)
- Social releasers: when the object causing the stimulus is the same stimulus (LOOK UP
EX. blind boy smiles, cries, frowns, etc. even though he has never seen those facial
EX. Yawning is a social releaser – someone yawns & it makes you yawn, because a
yawn is a st