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Using selective reinforcement (approximations) to modify a general response to a specific response;

it is building a behavior by dividing it into small increments or steps and then teaching one step at a time until the desired behavior is achieved;

steps become a series of intermediate goals.

AKA Reinforcing Successive Approximations



A procedure used with intermittent schedules of reinforcement.

Reinforcement frequency is on a decreasing schedule.

Most effective when behavior is positively reinforced rather than negatively reinforced.


Response cost

Operant Conditioning Procedure (Negative Punishment)

- certain responses result in loss of a valued commodity.

- the intent of such procedures is to produce punishment

- An undesirable behavior is followed by removal of a favorable stimulus or opportunity.





Response generalization


In conditioning, the phenomenon in which reinforcement of some forms of behavior results in an increased probability not only of these forms but also of similar and non-reinforced forms.

Induction AKA



In conditioning, the phenomenon in which reinforcement of some forms of behavior result in an increased probability not only of these forms, but also of similar and non-reinforced forms. AKA Response Generalization



When the rate of a previous behavior decreases following the discontinuation of reinforcement.

Exists in Operant Conditioning & Classical Conditioning


Spontaneous recovery

When a decrease in behavior (extinction) is not permanent, so the behavior reemerges over time


Extinction bursts

Occasional bursts of behavior during the extinction process, even though the overall frequency is reducing.

Operant Conditioning

Consists of an increase in rate of the response when the reward no longer occurs; thus the relationship between response rate and reward is a negative one. 


Cue Deflation


Cue-deflation effect – extinction of a more salient cue enhances learning for the less salient cue.

When a compound stimulus controls behavior, extinction to one element of the compound can increase responding to the other element through a process called cue deflation.

The cue deflation effect sometimes occurs in a situation where two simultaneous CSs of different salience are paired with an UCS. The extinction of responding to the more salient (overshadowing) CS sometimes produces increased CR strength to the less salient CS. The Rescorla-Wagner theory cannot account for the cue deflation effect.



A decrease in responsiveness to a particular stimulus resulting from repeated exposure to that stimulus.

Arousal is typical way that psychologists study habituation.


Selective attention

The ability to attend to one stimulus among a mass of competing stimuli



The blocking or prevention of a person's ability to remember old information or learn new information.

Memory Term


Secondary Reinforcement

An Operant Conditioning term that refers to reinforcement by means of a stimulus that has acquired reinforcing qualities by having been associated with a reinforcer



A Classical Conditioning term for elicitation of a response by a previously neutral stimulus when it is presented following a series of occurrences of a conditioned stimulus (e.g., after flinching each time an electric shock is administered, a person is likely to flinch if a loud tone is then presented)

Exposure to some kind of shock can alter the animal's motivational state so that it comes to avoid any external stimulus.


Who demonstrated the concept of taste aversion?

John Garcia in rats. Gave them saccharin-flavored water followed by apomorphine; which causes nausea; other rats received saline after the saccharine flavored water. Rats that had nausea would drink very little water while the other rats would drink a lot.



Best known for his work on rats and the concept of cognitive maps (internal representation (or image) of external environmental feature or landmark).

  1. Reinforcement is not necessary for learning to take place.
  2. Considered one of the pioneers of Cognitive Psychology.

Tolman also worked on latent learning, defined as learning which is not apparent in the learner's behavior at the time of learning, but which manifests later when a suitable motivation and circumstances appear.



Known for insight learning and his work with bonobos (or rhesus monkeys)



Studied neural mechanisms underlying associative and nonassociative learning in sea slugs


Covert sensitization

A form of aversive conditioning in which the frequency of undesirable behavior is lessened by mentally (COVERT PART) associating it with unpleasant mental images.

An example of using covert sensitization to overcome emotional overeating – which typically involves turning to unhealthy “comfort” foods during times of stress –  could be vividly imagining taking a bit of  the desired food, only to find that it’s covered in something revolting such as hair, feces, or vomit.


Rescorla-Wagner Model

A mathematical account of how associative strength grows during Pavlonian Conditioning. Looks at associative strength (level of knowledge about the CS-US relationship), the conditioning trial number, the change (a measure of learning), and the maximum amount of conditioning in a situation. This reflects the salience of the CS and the US.

The Rescorla-Wagner associative model of conditioning is based upon four assumptions that refer to the process by which the CS and UCS gain associative strength, V: (1) a particular US can only support a specific level of conditioning, l, (2) associative strength increases with each reinforced trial, but depends upon prior conditioning, (3) particular CSs and UCSs can support different rates of conditioning, K, and (4) when two or more stimuli are paired with the UCS, the stimuli compete for the associative strength available for conditioning. The model is based on an important equation

ΔVA = K(λ - VAX)

An Evaluation of the Rescorla-Wagner Model

The Rescorla-Wagner model accurately describes many research findings in Pavlovian conditioning, including for example the UCS preexposure effect. Preexposure to UCS without a CS impairs subsequent CS-UCS conditioning.


The Rescoral-Wagner Model explains why:

Formal Mathematical account of how the association between a conditioned stim (CS) and an US strengthens furing Pavlovian Conditioning, and thus the strength or probability of a Conditioned Response (CR) also increases.

typical learning curves for Pavlonian conditioning are gradual, negatively decelerating; conditioning is faster with stimuli that are more salient (i.e. overshadowing); when two or more stimuli predict a US, conditioning occurs to the one with the strongest predictive validity; and if the US is already predicted by one CS, conditioning will not occur to another CS that provides redundant information (i.e. blocking).

There is a progressive increase in associative strength during Pavlovian Conditioning.



A process in which a stimulus or a context causes an individual to subsequently display a stronger response to another stimulus than would otherwise be expected


Perceptual Masking

A phenomenon that occurs when one stimulus (the masking stimulus) prevents the perception of a second stimulus (the target stimulus) because they occur close together in time. The individual only perceives the masking stimulus.

  1. Forward: presented short time before target stim.
  2. Backward: brief target stim is blocked from perception by immediate presentation of a masking stim
  3. Simultaneous: masking stim presented at the same time as target stim.


Operant Extinction

The procedure of withholding reinforcement for a previously-reinforced voluntary behavior; there is a gradual reduction in the behavior until it ceases completely


Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory

Certain factors (hygiene and motivation -- independent of each other) in the workplace cause job satisfaction, while others lead to dissatisfaction.

HH + HM = ideal situation. Employee highly motivatied

HH+LM= few complaints & work seen as a paycheck

LH+HM=highly motivated and work is challenging but feel underpayed. Complains alot.

LH+LM=unmotivaed employee w/multi complaonts.


Schacter's Two-Factor Theory

A theory of avoidance learning, holding that avoidance behaviors is the result of both classical conditioning and negative reinforcement; emotions are a direct result of an analysis of the surroundings.

Avoidance behavior is result of Escape from an Aversive Stimulus

Founded on the Law of Effect, which states that operant vehaviors are increased or decreased depending on their consequences. 


Temporal Learning

A Classical Conditioning concept with no counterpart in Operant Conditioning. The passage of time serves as a CS. The body's natural circadian rhythms are thought to play a role in temporal conditioning.

Example: Mystic wanting to eat at 7pm.


Trace Conditioning

A form of conditioning involving the brief presentation of a conditioned stimulus, followed by a period of time during which no stimulus is presented, and then the presentation of an unconditioned stimulus, leading eventually to a conditioned response based on the memory (trace) of a previous stimulus.

The UCS is the smell of food which causes the unconditioned response of salivation by the dogs. When the UCS is paired with the neutral stimulus of a bell tone eventually a relationship will develop between the two. The bell tone will become a CS and cause the dogs to salivate without the presence of the UCS. In trace conditioning the CS and UCS are not presented together and don't overlap. This differs from classical delay conditioning in which there is a delay but the CS and UCS overlap for a time. For trace conditioning to happen the brain needs to form a mental representation of the conditioned stimulus after it has ended. This is called a stimulus trace


Delay conditioning

A form of classical conditioning in which the conditioned stimulus precedes the unconditioned stimulus by a significant time period and the individual learns to withhold its conditioned response.


CS ---- time ----- UCS, withholds CR

Present the CS (Bell) first and while the bell is still ringing give the UCS (food).  This is the fastest way to get acquisition.


Temporal Delay

A technical term for a pause