Chapter 5 Learning and Behaviour
Learning is an adaptive process in which the tendency to perform a particular
behaviour is changed by experience. Learning is not observed but is inferred by
changes in behaviour.
Performance is the behavioural change produced by the internal change.
Types of learning; habituation, classical conditioning and operant conditioning
Habituation – if a noise occurs it makes us have a reaction to it (orienting response)
however if the noise continuously occurs we stop paying attention to it. Habituation
is learning NOT to respond to unimportant events. The reason why this occurs is an
unnecessary reaction only causes an organism to waste energy and time.
Experiments that back up habituation was conducted by Humphrey on snails and
Wicks and Rankin on worms. Temporary habituation is called short-term
habituation. Long-term habituation occurs in animals, which have complex nervous
Classical conditioning – learning about the conditions that a specific event will occur
Ivan Pavlov (Russian physiologist) discovered classical conditioning in 1904.
He attempted to study the salivary process of using dogs. The dogs would salivate
every time they were fed; however, eventually the dogs salivated at the sight of the
feeder. Pavlov figured that one stimulus could predict the occurrence of another.
To further test his finding every time he would feed the dogs, he would ring a bell. At
first this sound alerted or startled the dog and would only salivate when the dog
was eating the food but eventually the sound of the bell triggered the salivary
response. If there was too much of a pause between the sound of the bell and the
food being given then the dog would never learn to salivate. Therefore timing is
important in classical conditioning.
Unconditional stimulus – a stimulus that naturally causes a reflexive response
Unconditional response – a response that is naturally elicited by the UCS
Conditional stimulus – a stimulus that after repetition can trigger an CR
Conditional response – a response triggered by the CS
The biological significance of classical conditioning
Classical conditioning gives the ability of an individual to recognize stimuli that
predicts the occurrence of an event that allows the individual to respond more
quickly. It also allows unimportant stimuli to become important this causes the
sense to be more aware of these stimuli.
Acquisition – is the period during which the conditional stimulus gradually
increases in frequency and strength.
Extinction - is eliminating the a response that occurs when the condition
stimulus is repeated without the unconditional stimulus being presented
(bell ring over and over without food the dog stops responding to the bell) Spontaneous recovery – after a period of time the reappearance of a
response that had previously been extinguished.
Generalization – conditional response is elicited by stimuli that resembles
the condition stimuli
Discrimination – the appearance of a conditional response when one stimuli
is presented and not the other
Conditional Emotional Responses
Many stimuli are able to arouse emotional responses.
Todrank, Byrnes, Wrzesniewski, and Rozin found that classical conditioning could
play a role in the development in personal likes and dislike with their experiment
pairing odors with pictures and ranking the attractiveness.
Phobias – unreasonable fear of specific objects or events
Phobia may arise earlier in life when this stimulus was presented with an
Classical conditioning does not have to be direct a child can learn to fear snakes
through their parents’ fear.
Environmental stimuli and its relation with our behaviour
When an action has a good outcome it is more likely to occur again.
Law of effect
Edward L. Thorndike discovered operant conditioning.
He performed an experiment on a cat it could get food only once it pressed a button
that would open the latch of a box and he called