Psychology- The study of behaviour
Learning is the adaptive process in which the tendency to perform a particular behav-
iour is changed by experience.
Performance is the evidence of learning
• Automatically is we have an unexpected alert we turn towards the problem. This is
called orienting response
However if a situation were to occur over and over again we would become habituated
to the stimulus and therefore we would not respond
• Habituation is the ability to learn not to respond to an unimportant event that occurs re-
peatedly. it is one of the most simplest forms of learning
• George Humphrey conducted an experiment on land snails in which he placed many
snails on a plate and tapped it, the snails all reflexed. However with more and more taps
the snails did not withdraw into their shells! They became habituated.
• Rankin and colleagues did this to a worm however they also found that the worm re-
treats to heat. Somehow the worm was able to distinguish heat from the tap and only re-
treat when heat was there!
• Short-term habituation is when the subject does not remember the stimulus after a
couple of days so it forgets that the stimulus is unimportant
• Animals however are more complex and have long term habituation in which the sub-
ject does not forget the stimulus if it has occurred enough times.
• When stimulus are exposed to the subject rapidly and massed then the result is short
• When the stimulus is presented over a spaced time period then it becomes long term
and the subject remembers it better.
• Classical conditioning involves learning about the conditions that predict a significant
event will occur • When in a movie and the creepy sounds begin, one will start to tense up as they get
ready for something bad to happen.
• Ivan Pavlov had a goal to discover the neural mechanisms controlling glandular secre-
tions during digestion
• Pavlov tested on dogs feeding them regularly. Eventually the dogs began salivating
before being fed, as soon as they saw the lab assistant getting the food ready. The ap-
pearance of the lab assistant predicted the appearance of food!
• Pavlov studied the phenomenon further when he gave the god an auditory stimulus
before he gave the god food. After dozens of times the dog salivated at the sound of the
bell alone! This type of learning is classical conditioning
• There must have been a short pause between the bell and the time he was giving the
food. Otherwise the dog would fail to connect the two.
• A stimulus that causes a natural reflexive behaviour is known as an unconditional
• The actual behaviour itself is known as the unconditional response (UCR)
• A neutral stimulus paired with an unconditional stimulus that gives a response is
known as a conditional stimulus (CS)
• The behaviour observed by this is known as a conditional response (CR)
• A neutral stimulus becomes desirable when it is associated with a desirable stimulus
or becomes undesirable when associated with an undesirable stimulus.
• Ward Robinson discovered that when the UCS (food) was signalled by the CS (sound)
and paired up with light, the light would be to pigeons as food itself!
• Krank also discovered this when he did a study on rats. He would give them alchohol
when light would show. It was found that whenever the light lit, the rats would go close
to it immediately.
• Wen found out that this is extremely specific to the nematode worms. Even an ION
can serve as a CS and become paired with the UCS being food
AQUISITION is the learning phase in which the CR gradually increases in frequency or
strength. The CS-UCS pairing is not enough to learn, aquisition must be present.
Two factors that affect aquisition are the intensity of the UCS and the timing between the
CS and the UCS.
EXTINCTION is when the CS continues to be presented without the UCS following it,
therefore eliminating the CR. For extinction to occur, the UCS must still be presented. If
nothing is presented then no effect will occur. Eventually, the CR may reappear after a time out period as spontaneous recovery. If the CS is presented and the UCS follows,
the subject immediately associates them together again.
Stimulus generalization and discrimination is when a CR occurs because a CS of a
similar sort is presented. A CS that mimics the usual CS. Pavlov found that the dog sali-
vated at any buzzer that sounded like a bell, this dog generalized the CS and therefore
created a CR.
Similarly, a subject can be taught to tell one stimulus apart from another, this is called
Discrimination. The way to train something to do this is to provide two different CS and
only one CS is followed by food, therefore allowing the subject to distinguish from the
Todrank and Rozin studied the ability of emotional responses to be controlled by clas-
sical conditioning. 3 pictures of a medium attractive women were surveyed to be attrac-
tive or not by other people. However a smell was associated with each picture. Overall,
the best smelling aroma was the most attractive!
Phobias are an overreaction to something due to a past experience with the spider or
car. Phobias can be formed WITHOUT contact but just by looking at the fear in some-
one else like a parent. Even reading about stuff can bring upon phobias
• The CS causes a CR only when it is followed by the UCS all the time and only if it is
not present when the UCS is not present
• Blocking occurs when one CS is paired with another CS and a UCS to give a CR.
However if the second CS were to be tested there would be no CR.
• Hollis conducted an experiment on fish in which light ended up signalling a submissive
response, therefore proving that it is not only the UCS which determines the CR but the
CS as well
• Hilliard and Domjan examined the sexual behaviour of male japanese quail. They pre-
sented a CS being foam and then followed it by sex. Eventually the quail would hang
around the foam a lot more because it brought the memory of the female back
• Through backward conditioning, the animal can learn that the CS predicts the absence
of the UCS. This is known as inhibitory conditional response and exitatory response. Operant Conditioning
• Operant conditioning is the idea that is a specific action has good consequences, then
it will most likely be repeated again.
• Thorndike places a hungry cat in a puzzle box in which the cat must operate a latch to
open a door. Eventually at random, the cat would activate it by accident. The cat would
learn and activate the latch without hesitation after many trials. Thorndike called this re-
sponse the law of effect
• This law of effect brought about behavioural analysis
• Skinner wrote several books for the public, one of which was walden two. He also
made the operant chamber or skinner box.
• Skinner measured response rate using a cumulative recorder which records each re-
sponse as it occurs in time.
• When commanding a dog to bark by saying “speak” the word speak acts as a discrimi-
native stimulus and sets an occasion for responding.
• We answer the phone only when someone is on the other line. We wouldn’t do this
when knowone is there thats just crazy. Skinner formulated a relationship between the
preceding event, the response, and the following event and called it the three-term con-
• The preceeding event will tell us if we should response or not based on the past expe-
riences. this is