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PSYC 1010 Chapter Notes -Observational Learning, Behaviorism, Classical Conditioning

Course Code
PSYC 1010
Heather Jenkin

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Module 20
Basic Learning Concepts and Classical Conditioning
How Do We Learn?
What is learning, and what are some basic forms of learning.
Learning is defined as the process of acquiring new and relatively enduring information or
By learning We adapt to our environment
Classical Conditioning: Expect and prepare for significant events such as food or pain
Operant Conditioning: Learn to repeat acts that bring rewards and to avoid acts that bring
unwanted results.
Cognitive Learning: We learn new behaviors by observing events by watching others, and
through language we learn things we neither have experienced or observed.
Knowing the above: HOW DO WE LEARN?
John Locke and David Hume restarted Aristotle’s Conclusion that we learn by association.
You associate one thing with the other. Eating fresh break once, and you expect it to be just as
good the second time.
This also occurs with sound. You can associate a sound with a frightening consequence and the
sound alone will make you scared.

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1. Learned operations operate subtly
Marking with a red pen will make the student have more errors then if marked with a
black pen.
(Associate red pen with error)
2. Learned associations also feed our habitual behaviors.
As we repeat behaviors given in a given context (sleeping a certain way, walking a route
on campus, eating popcorn in a movie theater) the behaviors become associated with the
Our next experience evokes our habitual response
How long does it take to form a habit?
When students were to choose a habit over a span of 84 days, it took them 66 days for it to be
Other animals also learn by association.
Ex. A Sea slug associates the squirt with an impending shock.
Complex animals learn to associate their own behavior with its outcomes.
Ex. A seal given a treat will repeat behaviors like slapping or barking.
By linking two events that occurs close together (trick and given a treat) , animals are exhibiting
associative learning.
Associative Learning: learning that certain events occur together. The events may be two
stimuli (as in classical conditioning) or in a response and its consequence (as in operant

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The process of learning associations is conditioning (which takes two forms)
Classical Conditioning: Associate two stimuli and thus to anticipate events.
Stimulus: any event or situation that evokes a response.
Ex. We learned that a flash of lightening signals the sound of thunder.
Operant Conditioning: We learn to associate response (our behavior) and its consequence. Thus
we learn to repeat the acts followed by good results and avoid acts followed by bad results.
(animals do this too)
Sometimes both of these conditionings can occur at the same time rather than separate.
Conditioning isn’t the only form of leraning.
Cognitive Learning: the acquisition of mental information, whether by observing events by
watching others or through language.
A form of cognitive learning is Observational learning, which lets us learn from others’
Ex. Chimpanzees learn behaviors by watching others perform them.
Ex One animal see’s another solve a puzzle and get a treat, the observer may perform the trick
quicker. Humans do this too!
Classical Conditioning
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