Psychologists operating in the learning (behavioural) paradigm view abnormal behaviour as responses
learned in the same ways other human behaviour is learned.
the goal of psychology was to learn more about what went on in the mind by analysing its elementary
constituents through introspection.
THE RISE OF BEHAVIOURISM:
John B. Watson replaced introspection, investigations on learning in animals became the dominant focus of
psychology which switched from thinking to learning.
behaviourism can be defined as an approach that focuses on observable behaviour rather than on
Three types of learning:
• Classical conditioning:
o (Pavlov), unconditioned stimulus; a stimulus elicits a response with no prior
o Unconditioned response: the response elicited by an unconditioned stimuli.
o Conditioned stimuli: the conditioned stimulus is previously neutral stimulus that, after becoming
associated with the unconditioned stimulus, eventually comes to trigger a conditioned response.
o Conditioned response: the conditioned response is the learned response to the previously neutral
o Extinction: refers to the lowering of the probability of a response when a
characteristic reinforcing stimulus is no longer presented.
Classical conditioning could instil pathological fear.
• Operant Conditioning:
o (Thorndike), law of effect: behaviour that is followed by satisfying consequences will
be repeated and behaviour that is followed by unpleasant consequences will be
discouraged (first called instrumental learning)
o Skinner introduced operant conditioning, applied to behaviour that operates on the
environment. He reformulated the law of effect by shifting the focus from the
linking of stimuli and responses (S-R connections) to the relationships between
responses and their consequences or contingencies.
o Stimuli do not so much get connected to responses as they become the occasions
for responses to occur, if in the past they have been reinforced.
o Discriminative stimulus: external events that in effect tell an organism that if it
performs a certain behaviour a certain consequence will follow.
o Renaming the law of effect “principle of reinforcement”, skinner distinguished 2
types of reinforcement:
Positive reinforcement: refers to the strengthening of a tendency to respond
by virtue of the presentation of a pleasant event, called a positive reinforcer.
Negative reinforcement: also strengthens a response, but it does so via the
removal of an aversive agent, such as the cessation of electric shock, called
o Shaping: rewarding a series of responses that are successive approximations of the
• Modelling: o Learning by watching and imitating others.
MEDIATIONAL LEARNING PARADIGMS:
Mediational theory of learning: holds that an environmental stimulus does not initiate an overt response
directly, rather it does so through some intervening process, or mediator, such as fear or thinking.
The mediator is conceptualized as an internal respon