Chapter 7- Learning
Learning- a process by which experience produces a relatively enduring change in
an organism’s behaviours and characteristics.
Why We Learn:
Ethnology- animal behaviour within the natural environment.
Adaptive Significance- how does behaviour influence reproduction
Fixed action pattern- and unlearned response automatically triggered by a
Habituation- is a decrease in the strength of response to a repeated stimulus over
Biology, Cognition and Culture:
Organisms must learn the following things:
• Which events are, or are not, important to its survival and well-being
• Which stimuli signal that an important event is about to occur; and
• Whether its responses will produce positive or negative consequences
Classical conditioning- organisms learn to associate two stimuli, such that one
stimulus comes to produce a response that originally was produced only by the
The example of Pavlov’s Dog:
• Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS)- no learning is required to produce salivation
• Unconditioned Response (UCR)- salivation
• Conditioned Stimulus (CS)- Tone
• Conditioned Response (CR)- Salivation
Term Description Example Unconditioned Stimulus A stimulus that innately Food
elicits a response
Conditioned Stimulus A stimulus that gains The sight of your favourite
value through learning restaurant
Unconditioned Response A reflexive, unlearned Salivation is response to
response to an innately food
Conditioned Response A response elicited by a Feeling hungry when you
stimulus whose see your favourite
importance depends on restaurant
Extinction- CS is presented repeatedly in the absence of UCS.
Spontaneous Recovery- the reappearance of a previously extinguished CR after a
Stimulus Generalization- stimuli similar to the initial CS elicit a CR.
Discrimination- is shown when a CR occurs to one stimulus but not to the others.
Higher order conditioning- a neutral stimulus becomes a CS after being paired with
an already established CS.
Applications of Classical Conditioning:
Exposure Therapy- Their goal is to expose the phobic patient to the feared stimulus
CS without any UCS allowing extinction.
Aversion therapy- attempt to condition an aversion (repulsion) to a stimulus that
triggers unwanted behaviour by pairing it with a noxious UCR. Eg. An alcoholic is
given a pill that makes him throw up whenever he drinks
Law of effect- in a given situation a response followed by a “satisfying”
consequence will become more likely to occur and a response followed by an
unsatisfying outcome will become less likely to occur.
Skinner’s Analysis of Operant Conditioning:
Operant conditioning- behaviour is influenced by its consequences. Skinner box- study of operant conditioning experimentally.
Reinforcement- a response is strengthened by an outcome t