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relatively permanent change in behavior as a result of experience


What are the three types of learning?

  1. classical conditioning
  2. operant conditioning
  3. cognitive learning


classical conditioning

learning that takes place when two stimuli, one conditioned and one unconditioned, are presented together to induce the same response

For example, Pavlov rang a bell when he was going to feed his dogs. The dogs would naturally salivate when food was presented to them, but over time when Pavlov rang his bell his dogs would salivate even without the presence of food.


Define acquisition as it relates to classical conditioning.

passively learning to give a known response to a new stimulus


Define stimulus as it relates to classical conditioning.

change in the environment that brings about a response


Define response as it relates to classical conditioning.

reaction to a stimulus


Stimuli that increase the likelihood of a behavior are called __________.


Identify the stimulus and the response:

When you put food in your mouth, you salivate.

  • stimulus: food
  • response: salivation


What was the premise of Ivan Pavlov's classical conditioning experiment?

Dogs salivate at the sight of food because they form associations with food and events preceding eating the food. Pavlov sounded a bell right before presenting food, so the dogs would ultimately salivate at the sound of the bell.

Define in terms of Pavlov's experiment:

neutral stimulus (NS)

stimulus that initially does not elicit a response until it becomes CS

Pavlov's example:

The NS is the bell because it does not produce salivation until it is paired with the food.

Define in terms of Pavlov's experiment:

unconditioned stimulus (UCS or US)

reflexively, automatically brings about a response

Pavlov's example:

Food is the UCS because it automatically brings about salivation.

Define in terms of Pavlov's experiment:

unconditioned response (UCR or UR)

automatic, involuntary reaction to the unconditioned stimulus

Pavlov's example:

The UCR is salivation because the dogs automatically salivate when they eat food.

Define in terms of Pavlov's experiment:

conditioned stimulus (CS)

starts as neutral stimulus, but when paired with UCS, eventually brings about the conditioned response

Pavlov's example:

The CS is the bell because, when paired with the food, it brought about salivation.

Define in terms of Pavlov's experiment:

conditioned response (CR)

learned response to a previously neutral stimulus

Pavlov's example:

Salivation is the CR because the dog learned to salivate in response to the bell.


How is delayed conditioning timed?

neutral stimulus is presented just before the unconditioned stimulus

Pavlov's example:

The bell rings just before food is presented.


How is trace conditioning timed?

neutral stimulus is presented and then taken away before the unconditioned stimulus appears

Pavlov's example:

Bell rings, followed by a long time lapse, then food is presented.


How is simultaneous conditioning timed?

neutral stimulus and unconditioned stimulus are presented together at the same time

Pavlov's example:

The bell rings and food is presented at the same time.


How is backward conditioning timed?

unconditioned stimulus is presented before the neutral stimulus

Pavlov's example:

Food is presented before the bell rings.


What researcher(s) were behind the Little Albert experiment?

John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner


Explain the Little Albert classical conditioning experiment.

  • conditioned a nine-month-old baby named Albert to fear a rat
  • Albert wouldn't cry from the sight of the rat, but cried from loud noise
  • loud noise was played when Albert reached for the rat
  • Albert eventually cried at sight of the rat


Identify the UCS, UCR, CS, and CR in the Little Albert experiment.

  • UCS: loud noise
  • UCR: fear
  • CS: white rat
  • CR: fear

Define in terms of classical conditioning:


elimination of the CR through presenting the CS without the UCS repeatedly

Pavlov's example: ring bell without food, dog will not salivate from bell

Little Albert: present rat without loud noise, baby will not cry from rat

Define in terms of classical conditioning:

spontaneous recovery

original response disappears and then returns later on

Pavlov's example: salivation from bell stops and then returns

Little Albert: baby stops crying from presence of rat and then begins again

Define in terms of classical conditioning:


stimuli similar to the CS elicit the CR without any new conditioning

Pavlov's example: dog salivates from bells with different tones, pitches, or lengths

Little Albert: baby cries from other white fluffy stimuli, such as white bunnies or cotton balls

Define in terms of classical conditioning:


CR is only produced by the presence of the CS because other stimuli is too dissimilar

Pavlov's example: dog will not salivate to a doorbell or telephone ring

Little Albert: baby will not cry at presence of a black rat 


What is higher-order (a.k.a. second-order) conditioning?

learning which occurs when a previously learned CS is now used as the US to produce a CR to a new stimulus


Flashing a light before Pavlov's bell would train the dogs to salivate from only the light.


operant conditioning

learning that occurs when a subject performs certain voluntary behavior, and the consequences of the behavior determine the likelihood of its recurrence


How did Edward Thorndike contribute to research on operant conditioning?

  • put cats in puzzle boxes to demonstrate trial and error in obtaining a fish
  • coined the terms "instrumental learning" and "Law of Effect"


What is instrumental learning?

Thorndike's term for type of associative learning where a behavior becomes more or less probable depending on its consequence


Explain the Law of Effect.

  • behaviors followed by a positive consequence are strengthened and more likely to occur
  • behaviors followed by a negative consequence are weakened and less likely to occur
  • concluded by Edward Thorndike