PSY – Chap 7 Notes: Learning and Behaviour
• Learning: the adaptive process in which the tendency to perform a particular behaviour is
changed by experience.
• Performance: behavioural changes that are evidence learning has occurred.
• Orienting response: any response that directs the organism’s appropriate sensory organs
(eyes, ears, nose) toward the source of the stimulus
• Habituation: learning not to respond to an unimportant reoccurring event.
• Short-term habituation: simplest form of habituation, temporary. And the reaction to the
stimulus will be evident the next day
• Long-term habituation: carries from day to day and even year to year
• Sudden sights and sounds that appear for the 1 time cause an automatic Unlearned
• Once this reaction has been experience a few times, it becomes Classically Conditioned.
Like becoming frightened when scary music comes on in a horror flick
• Unlike habituation, Classical conditioning involves learning about the conditions that
predict that a significant event will occur. Said differently, it is the normal response
elicited by the unconditional stimulus (dog food) comes to be controlled by the
conditional stimulus (ringing bell) as well.
• Prior to conditioning, the UCS elicits an UCR. During conditioning, the CS is presented
along with the UCS. After conditioning, the CS alone elicits the CR.
• Classical conditioning accomplishes 2 functions:
o The ability to recognize the CS allows a faster and more efficient response
o Stimuli that were previously unimportant acquire characteristics of the important
stimuli and become able to modify behaviour.
• Basic Principles of Classical Conditioning:
o Acquisition: the time during which a CR first appears and increases in frequency.
o Extinction: the elimination of the CR. Must still display the CS, but without the
UCS being followed
o Spontaneous Recovery: after a “time out” period without any experimentation,
there is a reappearance of the CR that had been extinguished.
o Stimulus Generalization: a response produced by a particular CS will also occur
when a similar CS is presented. (similar CS would be a bell and a buzzer)
o Discrimination: learning the difference between 2 or more stimuli: CS+ and CS-.
The subject learns when to respond to one stimulus (CS+) and when not to
respond to another stimulus (CS-)
• Phobia: learned thru classical conditioning. An imaginary episode (UCS) can provide
imaginary stimuli (CS) that lead to real conditional emotional responses (CR)
• A stimulus becomes a CS only when:
o The CS regularly occurs prior to the presentation of the UCS
o The CS does not regularly occur when the UCS is absent
• Blocking: a previously conditioned CS can satisfy the conditioning of a neutral CS if they
are presented together. • Inhibitory conditional response: a response tendency that predicts the absence of the UCS
• Excitatory conditional response: a response tendency that signals that the UCS is about to
occur. Also known as the CR
• Operant conditioning: form of learning where behaviour is affected by its consequences:
good consequences strengthen behaviour, bad consequences weaken behaviour
• Law of Effect: Thorndike’s idea. The consequences of a behaviour determine whether it
will be repeated or not
o The law of effect is similar to Natural Selection. Natural selection determines
which members of a species will survive and reproduce, Law of Effect determines
which responses will survive and become part of the regular behaviour
• Cumulative Recorder: mechanical device connected to an operant chamber to record the
operant responses as they occur in time.
• Three-term contingency: the relationship among the preceding event, the response, and
the following event
o The discriminative stimulus: sets the occasion for responding because- in the past-
a behaviour produced certain consequences in the presence of this stimulus. Ex.
the word “speak” makes a dog bark because when you were training him you
gave him a treat.
o The response: the dog barking
o The following event: the treat given the dog, or the owners happiness
• Positive reinforcement: an increase in the frequency of a response followed by an
o An appetitive stimulus is any stimulus that an organism seeks out. If an appetitive
stimulus follows a response and increases the freq