Psychology Chapter 3 – Classical Conditioning
ADefinition of Learning
Learning – is a relatively enduring change in the mechanisms of behaviour that occurs due to
Latent Learning – obtaining relations that are not expressed right away or expressed only in
appropriate situations, reflect this distinction and highlights the importance of the specific
mechanisms of learning.
Three Key Concepts of Learning:
1. Mechanisms of Behaviour
There are two compelling reasons to consider more than behaviour alone, both of which
involve the distinction between learning and performance.
There are many reasons unrelated to learning why behaviour may change. Ex. Fatigue
and motivational factors that can alter behaviour.
Learning may occur yet not be immediately reflected in performance.
Given that behaviour may change for reasons other than learning, and that learning may not be
instantly reflected as a change in behaviour, we need to define learning in terms of the
mechanisms of behaviour, rather than the behaviour itself. When learning occurs, something
changes in the process and systems that produce behaviour, thereby altering the mechanism of
2. Learning Involves Change that is Relatively Enduring
The definition specifies that the changes in the mechanisms of behaviour that occur as a
result of learning must be enduring.
That is not to say these changes must be permanent, but rather that the learning should
tend to be retained over time whether or not learning is being continually expressed in
3. Learning is a Process based on Experience
Changes that reflect learning are also a result of maturation.
There are behaviours that develop and change as an individual matures, often
independent of experience.
Maturation and learning work together to alter the mechanisms of behaviour.
Example: tadpole develops into a frog and shifts from swimming to hopping; that is not
learned behaviour- it has lost its tail and developed legs.
Example: language acquisition – a certain level of maturation is necessary before a child
has developed motor control of the physical organs of speech production to produce
language, but before this time, the child is already acquired considerable knowledge of
words and their meanings. Section 1: Orienting Responses, Habituation, and Sensitization
Orientating Response – an automatic shift of attention toward that stimulus or event.
Habituation -Adecrease in response to a stimulus or event as it is repeatedly presented without
Dis-habituation – is an increase in responding that follows a change in the stimulus to which
habituation has occurred.
Repeated presentation leads to sensitization, or an increase in responding.
Where habituation serves to keep us from being distracted by unimportant stimuli, sensitization
focuses attention to stimuli that do have relevance.
Habituation and sensitization are considered simple forms of non-associative learning because
they modify an existing stimulus-response relationship. The type of process affected by
habituation or sensitization is typically a reflex, which takes place independently of the
conscious experience of the subject.
Section 2: Classical Conditioning
Pavlov’s Dog Study Example
Unconditional Response (UR) – is a biologically determined reflex that can be made in the
absence of any prior learning.
- Ex. Salivation
The stimulus that made the UR is called the unconditional stim