Module 20 Page 1
Basic Learning Concepts and Classical Conditioning
Learning - the process of acquiring new and relatively enduring information or behaviours
John Locke and David Hume echo Aristotle's conclusion of learning by association
Our mind's naturally connect events that occur in sequence
Learned associations often operate subtly (red pen means errors when marking). Learned
associations also feed our habitual behaviours (as we repeat behaviours in a given context ex.
eating popcorn in the movies).
Habits can take 66 days to form
Associative learning - learning that certain events occur together. The events may be two stimuli (as in
classical conditioning) or a response and its consequences (as in operant conditioning).
Ex. Two related events :
Stimulus 1: Lightning + Stimulus 2: Thunder = Response: Startled reaction, wincing.
Result After Repetition:
Stimulus: We see lightning > Response: Anticipation of loud noise; wincing
Classical Conditioning: we learn to associate two stimuli and thus to anticipate events.
Stimulus - any event or situation that evoked a response
Operant Conditioning: we learn to associate a response (our behaviour) and its consequence. Thus we
learn to repeat acts followed by good results and avoid acts followed by bad results.
Cognitive Learning - the acquisition of mental information, whether by observing events, by watching
others, or through language. Ex. Observational learning- learning from others experiences
A type of learning in which one learns to link two or more stimuli and anticipate events.
Ivan Pavlov (1849 - 1936)
Laid the foundation for John B. Watson who stayed away from inner thoughts, feelings &
motives. He believed in studying how organisms respond to stimuli in their environment.
Pavlov & Watson shared a disdain for mentalistic concepts (consciousness) & a belief that the
basic laws of learning were the same for all animals.
Watson developed Behaviorism - the view that psychology 1) should be an objective sciences that 2)
studies behaviour without reference to mental processes. Most research psychologists today agree with
1) but not 2). Module 20 Page 2
Pavlov received a medical degree at age 33 rather than going into priesthood
Spent the next 2 decades studying the digestive system earning a Nobel Prize in 1904
Next 3 decades focused on experiments with learning
Respondent Behaviours - behaviour that occurs as an automatic response to some stimulus
Neutral Stimuli (NS) - in classical conditioning, a stimulus that elicits no response before conditioning
Unconditioned Response (UR) - in classical conditioning, an unlearned naturally occuring response (such
as salivation) to an unconditioned stimulus (US) (such as food in the mouth).
Unconditioned Stimulus (US) - in classical conditioning, a stimulus that unconditionally triggers a
response (the UR).
Conditioned Response (CR) - in classical conditioning, a learned response to a previously n