Notes From Reading
C HAPTER 6:L EARNING (PGS. 248-299)
Learning – relatively durable change in behavior or knowledge that is due to experience. One of
the most fundamental concepts in psychology
Conditioning – learning associations between events that occur in an organism’s environment
Phobias – irrational fears of specific objects or situations
Classical Conditioning – type of learning in which a stimulus acquires the capacity to evoke a
response that was originally evoked by another stimulus.
o First demonstrated by Pavlov, known as Pavlovian conditioning
o Mainly regulates involuntary, reflexive responses
Pavlov’s Demonstration: “Psychic Reflexes”
Pavlov conditioned dogs to salivate when a tone was presented with meat powder
Neutral Stimulus – does not provide the conditioned response initially.
Learned associations are formed by events in an organism’s environment
Terminology and Procedures
Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS) –stimulus that evokes an unconditioned response without
Unconditioned Response (UCR) – unlearned reaction to an unconditioned stimulus that occurs
without previous conditioning
Conditioned Stimulus (CS) – previously neutral stimulus that has, through conditioning,
acquired the capacity to evoke a conditioned response.
Conditioned Response (CR) – learned reaction to a conditioned stimulus that occurs because of
Responses controlled through classical conditioning are said to be elicited
Trial – in classical conditioning, consists of any presentation of a stimulus of any or pair of
Classical Conditioning In Everyday Life
Conditioned Fears and Anxiety
o Classical conditioning is responsible for a great many irrational fears
Evaluative Conditioning of Attitudes
o Evaluated Conditioning – changes in the liking of a stimulus that result from pairing
that stimulus with other positive or negative stimulus
o Advertising campaigns try to use classical conditioning to pair products with positive
Conditioning and Physiological Responses
o Ader and Cohen – classical conditioning procedures can lead to immunosuppression –
decrease in the production of antibodies.
o Classical conditioning can also elicit allergic reactions
Conditioning and Drug Effects
o Classical conditioning contributes to drug tolerance.
Basic Process in Classical Conditioning
Acquisition: Forming New Responses
o Acquisition refers to the initial stage of learning something
o Pavlov theorized that acquisition of a conditioned response depended on stimulus
contiguity (occur in the same time and space)
o Contiguity alone, however, does not produce conditioning.
o Stimulus that are novel, unusual, or especially intense have more potential to become
more CS’s than routine stimuli.
o Timing of stimulus presentation is also important.
1/5 Notes From Reading
C HAPTER 6:L EARNING (P GS. 248-299)
o Simultaneous conditioning – the CS and UCS begin and end together.
o Short delayed conditioning – CS begins just before the UCS and stops at the same time
as the UCS. Best Method
o Trace conditioning – the CS begins and ends before the UCS is presented
Extinction: Weakening conditioned responses
o Extinction – the gradual weakening and disappearance of a conditioned response
o Consistent presentation of the CS alone without the UCS, leads to extinction
Spontaneous Recovery: Resurrecting Responses
o Spontaneous Recovery – the reappearance of an extinguished response after a period of
nonexposure to the CS.
o Usually weak
o Renewal Effect – if a response is extinguished in a different environment than it was
acquired, the extinguished response will reappear if the animal is returned to the original
environment where acquisition took place
Stimulus Generalization and the Case of Little Albert
Generalization occur when a CR is elicited by a new stimulus that resembles the original CS
o Little Albert
The more similar new stimuli are to the original CS, the greater the generalization
Stimulus Discrimination – occurs when an organism that has learned a specific stimulus does
not respond in the same way to new stimuli that are similar to the original stimulus.
o The less similar new stimuli are to the original CS, the greater the likelihood of
Higher Order Conditioning – a conditioned stimulus functions as if it were an unconditioned
Recent Directions in Pavlovian Conditioning
o Involves the amygdala and cerebellum in Pavlovian fear and eye-blinking conditioning
o Dijksterhus use subliminal conditioning to raise people’s self-esteem by flashing positive
words like “healthy” and “smart” while control groups had neural word. Positive group
had a higher self-esteem
Operant Conditioning – is a form of learning in which responses come to be controlled by their
Thorndike’s Law of Effect
Operant conditioning was created by Skinner
Law of Effect – if a response in the presence of a stimulus leads to satisfying effects, and the
association between the stimulus and the response is strengthened.
Skinner’s Demo: It’s All a Matter of Consequences
Demonstrated that organisms tend to repeat those responses that are followed by favorable
Reinforcement – when an event following a response increases an organism’s tendency to make
Terminology and Procedures
Operant Chamber/Skinner Box – small enclosure in which an animal can make a specific
response that is recorded while the consequences of the response are systematically controlled.
Operant responses tend to be voluntary, so they are “emitted”
2/5 Notes From Reading
C HAPTER 6:L EARNING (PGS. 248-299)
Reinforcement Contingencies – the circumstances or rules that determine whether responses
lead to the presentation of reinforcers
o Experimenter changes whether positive consequences occur when the animal makes the
o Dependent Variable – subjects response rate over time.
Cumulative Recorder – creates a graphic record of responding and reinforcement in a skinner
box as a function of time.
o Key: slope of the line – rapid response rate is steep.
Basic Processes in Operant Conditioning
Acquisition and Shaping
o Acquisition - the initial stage of learning some new patter of responding
o Shaping – the reinforcement of closer and closer approximations of a desired response.
Extinction – gradual weakening and disappearance of a response tendency because the response
is no longer followed by a reinforce
o Resistance to Extinction – when an organism continues to m