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Flashcards in Behaviourism Deck (62):

classical conditioning

A form of learning in which a response becomes associated with a previously neutral stimulus.


conditioned response

A response that becomes associated with a stimulus through learning.


conditioned stimulus

A previously neutral stimulus that becomes associated with a response.


continuous reinforcement

A schedule of reinforcement in which the desired behavior is reinforced each time that it occurs.



In Dollard and Miller’s theory, a specific stimulus that tells the organism when, where, and how to respond.



In behavior theory, the ability to tell the difference between stimuli that are and are not reinforced.



The psychological correlate of a need or stimulus that impels an organism into action. In Freud’s theory, a psychological representation of an inner bodily source of excitement characterized by its source, impetus, aim, and object. In Dollard and Miller’s theory, a strong stimulation that produces discomfort.


drive reduction

A concept formulated by Hull that suggests that learning occurs only if an organism’s response is followed by the reduction of some need or drive.



The philosophical view that human knowledge arises slowly in the course of experience through observation and experiment.



The tendency of a response to disappear when it is not reinforced.


fixed reinforcement

A schedule of reinforcement in which the time period or number of responses before reinforcement is identical.



In Dollard and Miller’s theory, an emotion that occurs when one is unable to reduce a drive because the response that would satisfy it has been blocked.


generalized conditioned reinforcers

In Skinner’s theory, learned reinforcers that have the power to reinforce a great number of different behaviors.



In Dollard and Miller’s theory, the basic structure of personality: a learned association between a stimulus and a response that makes them occur together frequently.


hierarchy of response

In Dollard and Miller’s theory, a tendency for certain responses to occur before other responses.


interval reinforcement

A schedule of reinforcement in which the organism is reinforced after a certain time period has elapsed, regardless of the response rate.


law of effect

A law formulated by Thorndike that states that a behavior or a performance accompanied by satisfaction tends to increase and a behavior or performance accompanied by frustration tends to decrease.


learning dilemma

In Dollard and Miller’s theory, the situation an individual is placed in if present responses are not reinforced.


negative reinforcement

Unpleasant or aversive stimuli that can be changed or avoided by certain behavior.


operant behavior

In Skinner’s theory, a response that acts on the environment and is emitted without a stimulus necessarily being present.


operant conditioning

In Skinner’s theory, the process by which an operant response becomes associated with a reinforcement through learning.


overt behavior

Behavior that can be observed by an external observer.


positive reinforcement

Anything that serves to increase the frequency of a response.


primary drive

A drive associated with a physiological process that is necessary for the organism’s survival.


primary reinforcer

A reinforcer that is inherently rewarding as it satisfies a primary drive.


psychological behaviorism

Staats’s theory of personality, which translates personality concepts into behavioral language.



An undesirable consequence that follows a behavior and is designed to stop or change it.


radical behaviorism

A label that has been given to B. F. Skinner’s point of view.


ratio reinforcement

A schedule of reinforcement in which the organism is reinforced after a number of appropriate responses.


reciprocal inhibition

In behavior therapy, introducing a competitive response that will interfere with the original maladaptive response.



The process of increasing or decreasing the likelihood of a particular response.



Any event that increases or decreases the likelihood of a particular response.


respondent behavior

In Skinner’s theory, reflexes or automatic responses elicited by a stimulus.



A behavior that results from a stimulus. In Dollard and Miller’s theory, one’s reaction to a cue or stimulus.



Entails permitting the behavior to occur until the individual tires of it.


schedule of reinforcement

A program for increasing or decreasing the likelihood of a particular response.


secondary drive

A drive that is learned or acquired on the basis of a primary drive.


secondary reinforcer

A reinforcer that is originally neutral but that acquires reward value on the basis of association with a primary reinforcer.



In Skinner’s theory, a process by which an organism’s behavior is gradually molded until it approximates the desired behavior.


species-specific behavior

Complex, rather than reflex, automatic behaviors that occur in all members of a species.


spontaneous recovery

Following extinction, the return of a learned behavior.


systematic desensitization

In behavior therapy, conditioning a patient to stop responding to a stimulus in an undesired manner and to substitute a new response.



Psychological intervention that eliminates undesired behavior by removing the individual from the situation in which the undesired behavior is occurring.


token economy

A community based on Skinnerian principles in which individuals are rewarded for appropriate behavior with tokens that can be exchanged for various privileges.


unconditioned response

A reflex or automatic response to a stimulus.


unconditioned stimulus

A stimulus that normally elicits a particular reflex or automatic response.


Walden II

Behaviorally engineered society designed by a benevolent psychologist who employed a program of positive reinforcements.


Describe how behaviour and learning theorists study personality experimentally

Behaviour and leaning theories explore personality experimentally by studying behaviour in laboratory settings. Their precise methods reflect an empirical point of view and the careful manipulation of variables under specified controlled conditions.


Identify the early contributions of Pavlov, Watson, Thorndike, and Hull.

Early behaviourists include Pavlov, who explained the process of classical conditioning; Watson, whose theory recommended an emphasis on overt behaviour; Thorndike, who formulated the law of effect; and Hill, who clarified the concept of drive reduction.


Define and give examples of habits, drives, and reinforcers.

Dollard and Miller described the structure of personality in terms of habits that may be learned and unlearned. They distinguish between primary and secondary drives and reinforcers as the primary motivating forces of personality.


Describe the four main conceptual parts of the learning process

The learning process can be broken down into 4 main conceptual parts: drive, cue, response, and reinforcement.


Discuss findings from the research into the learning process.

A number of experiments have been conducted on the learning process, especially in the area of frustration and conflict. Experiments with infrahuman species have been quite successful in predicting the behaviour of simple laboratory animals under controlled situations.


Explain how Dollard and Miller have integrated learning theory and psychoanalysis.

Dollard and Miller have adapted many Freudian concepts and integrated them into learning theory. Unconscious processes are re-conceived as unlabelled drives and cues. The defence mechanisms and critical stages of development are also re-conceived in terms of learning process. The translation, though inexact, has helped to popularize Freud and stimulate experimental study of his ideas.


Describe Dollard and Miller's practice of psychotherapy.

Dollard and Miller's therapy represents a bridge to the more directive and active therapies of other learning theories. Behaviour therapy involves unlearning ineffective habits and substituting more adaptive responses.


Evaluate Dollard and Miller from the viewpoints of philosophy, science and art

Dollard and Miller's theory seeks to emulate a scientific model and places a great deal of emphasis on empirical research.


Explain why Skinner emphasizes overt behaviour and avoids developing a theory of personality.

Skinner chose to describe variables and forces in the environment that shape overt behaviour. He believed that the term 'personality' and concepts of internal structure are ultimately superfluous and that behaviour is best understood as responses to the environment


Describe the process of operant conditioning, and compare it with classical conditioning.

Operant conditioning involves reinforcing and shaping spontaneous responses. It differs from classical conditioning in the nature of the behaviour which is freely made rather than elicited by a stimulus, and in the nature of the reinforcement, which follows rather than precedes the behaviour.


Distinguish among different schedules and types of reinforcement, and indicate their effectiveness.

Skinner described three schedules of reinforcement: continuous, interval and ratio. Continuous is effective for initially developing a behaviour. Interval and ration are more effective for maintaining the behaviour. Skinner described the effects of generalized conditioned reinforces and he distinguished among positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and punishment.


Discuss Skinner's concept of behaviour modification and explain how it has been successfully employed

Behaviour modification seeks to restructure the environment so that undesired behaviours are eliminated and more desired ones substituted. Skinner's approach has been successful in situations in which traditional insight methods are inapplicable. His methods have also been used in therapeutic communities, education, and industry.


Describe Skinner's concept of a utopian society.

Skinner advocated the development of a social utopia, a behavioural engineered society in which a program of positive reinforcers would shape behaviour.


Show how Skinner's position includes philosophical assumptions as well as scientific statements.

Skinner's utopian speculations reflect philosophical assumptions as well as scientific generalizations by not allowing for any exceptions and by invoking the values and ethical commitments


Evaluate Skinner's theory from the viewpoints of philosophy, science, and art.

Skinner's theory clearly evolved from experimental laboratory investigations and emulates a strict scientific approach. However, Skinner acknowledged the philosophical assumptions that underlie his theory.