Learning Flashcards Preview

GRE Psychology > Learning > Flashcards

Flashcards in Learning Deck (105)


relatively permanent change in behavior as a result of experience


What are the three theories for 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 __________.



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.


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.


unconditioned stimulus (UCS or US)

reflexively, automatically brings about a response

Pavlov's example:

Food is the UCS because it automatically brings about salivation.


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.


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.


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?

A conditioned stimulus is presented just before the unconditioned stimulus. The greater the delay, the less likely conditioning is to occur.

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



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


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



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



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


What is a Skinner box?

operant conditioning chamber for research animals, designed by B.F. Skinner, that contained levers, food dispensers, lights, and an electrified grid


What are the four training procedures of B.F. Skinner's operant conditioning?

  1. positive reinforcement
  2. negative reinforcement
  3. positive punishment
  4. negative punishment


positive reinforcement

reward training where a behavior is followed by a reinforcer that increases the probability that the behavior will occur again


praise after participating in class


What is the Premack principle?

type of positive reinforcement where a more probable behavior is used as a reinforcer for a less probable one


treating yourself to an hour of TV after spending three hours studying for an exam


negative reinforcement

removing an unpleasant consequence


kid does his chores to avoid getting yelled at


What are avoidance and escape behaviors?

  1. avoidance behavior: takes away the aversive stimulus before it begins
  2. escape behavior: takes away the aversive stimulus after it has already started



unpleasant consequence that follows a voluntary behavior, decreasing the probability the behavior will be repeated; a.k.a. positive punishment


spanking a child for misbehaving


omission training

removing a rewarding consequence following a voluntary behavior, decreasing the probability the behavior will be repeated


taking away a child's toy after misbehaving


What is aversive conditioning?

learning that involves an unpleasant stimulus or reinforcer, such as negative reinforcement and punishment


learned helplessness

state of feeling powerless to change yourself or your situation because of a prior inability to avoid an aversive event


What are the three types of reinforcers?

  1. primary
  2. secondary
  3. generalized


primary reinforcers

something that is biologically, naturally important and therefore rewarding


food and drink


secondary reinforcers

something neutral that can become rewarding when associated with a primary reinforcer


gold stars, tokens, points, money


generalized reinforcers

secondary reinforcer that can be associated with several primary reinforcers


money can be used to buy food and also other enjoyable items.


How does a token economy work?

  • operant conditioning system
  • secondary reinforcers are used to increase acceptable behaviors
  • tokens can be exchanged for privileges and prizes
  • used in mental hospitals and jails


Define behavior modification in terms of operant conditioning.

  • small steps are rewarded until the intended goal is achieved
  • uses the behavioral approach to solve individual, institutional, and societal problems


How is shaping used to teach a new behavior?

positively reinforcing closer and closer approximations of the desired behavior


In toilet training, rewards are given to the child at each step.


Define chaining as it relates to operant conditioning.

  • initially positively reinforcing each behavior in a certain order
  • later on, rewards only given for completing the whole sequence in order to establish a specific sequence of behaviors


What is the purpose of reinforcement schedules?

to determine how and when reinforcers will be given to the learner


What is a continuous reinforcement schedule?

provides reinforcement every time the behavior is exhibited by human or animal


What is a partial reinforcement schedule?

  • reinforcing behavior only some of the time
  • a.k.a. intermittent schedule


What is a ratio schedule and what are the four types?

schedule based on the number of desired responses

  1. fixed ratio
  2. fixed interval
  3. variable ratio
  4. variable interval


fixed ratio schedule

reinforcement comes after a specific number of behavior responses


Every three times you get a question right, you get a piece of candy.


fixed interval schedule

reinforcement comes at a specific time


Having an review at a job at a specific time each year to determine compensation


variable ratio schedule

number of behavior responses needed for reinforcement changes


You sit at a slot machine pulling the lever hundreds of time because you don't know how many pulls are needed before the jackpot.


variable interval schedule

amount of time before reinforcement of behavior changes


You study every night in preparation for a pop quiz because you don't know when it is coming.


How is superstitious behavior formed?

When reinforcement occurs during an idiosyncratic behavior, the organism is likely to repeat that behavior, even though it doesn't cause the reinforcement.


What did John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner study?

studied only behaviors, disregarded thought processes because they were not observable


What do cognitive theorists believe humans and other animals are capable of, beyond classical and operant conditioning?

forming expectations and being consciously motivated by rewards


What is the contingency model?

Richard Rescorla's theory that the key to classical conditioning is how well the CS predicts the appearance of the UCS


What model did the contingency model counter?

Pavlov's contiguity model that classical conditioning is based on the association in time of the CS prior to the UCS.


What is the blocking effect?

Leon Kamin's concept that conditioning effect of neutral stimulus is blocked when already conditioned with UCS


Name an example of delayed gratification.

saving money for college or a car, rather than spending it immediately


Who was Edward Tolman?

  • confirmed the presence of latent learning
  • found unrewarded rats form cognitive map of the maze so when presented with a reward, they are motivated to improve


latent learning

learning in the absence of rewards


Define insight as it relates to learning.

sudden appearance of an answer or solution to a problem


Who observed insight in chimpanzees?

Wolfgang Kohler


observational learning

  • learning that occurs by watching the behavior of a model
  • a.k.a. social learning or vicarious learning


What are the four steps of observational learning, according to Albert Bandura?

  1. attention
  2. retention
  3. reproduction
  4. motivation


What were the results of the bobo dolls experiment?

  • when offered rewards to imitate violent behavior, did not always lead to response
  • demonstrated modeling: those who watched violent models imitated them


What provides the biological basis for observational learning?

Mirror neurons are activated when you perform an action and when you observe someone else perform a similar action.


conditioned taste aversion

  • intense dislike and avoidance of a food because of its association with an unpleasant or painful stimulus through backward conditioning
  • adaptive responses of organisms to foods that could sicken or kill them
  • a.k.a. Garcia effect


Define preparedness as it relates to learning.

Through evolution, animals are biologically predisposed to easily learn behaviors related to their survival as a species.


Who experimented on conditioned taste aversions and biological preparedness in rats?

John Garcia and Robert Koelling


What is instinctive drift?

CR that drifts back toward the natural, instinctive behavior of the organism


What is the evidence of biological factors of learning?

Rats raised in enriched environments had thicker cortices, higher brain weight, and greater neural connectivity than rats raised in deprived environments.


What is long-term potentiation?

  • physiological change that correlates with a  stable change in behavior due to experience
  • "neurons that fire together, wire together"
  • studied by Donald Hebb and Eric Kandel


What psychological school was founded by John Watson?

the school of behaviorism

Watson believed we learn through conditioning of stimulus-response chains.


What is another term for "classical conditioning"?

Pavlovian conditioning


What does backward conditioning cause?

inhibitory conditioning

Inhibitory conditioning prevents forward conditioning.


What is an alternate term for "shaping"?

differential reinforcement of successive approximations


What are some primary drives for learning?

Also known as instinctual drives, primary drives include basic functions like hunger and thirst.


What are some secondary drives for learning?

Secondary drives, or acquired drives may include fame, money, or other motivators that are not instinctual.


What is an exploratory drive?

It is neither a primary nor secondary drive, and appears to be motivated simply by the desire to do or learn something novel.


Fritz Heider, Charles Osgood, Percy Tannenbaum, and Leon Festinger believe that humans' thoughts and behaviors are motivated by what?

the desire for homeostasis

However, homeostasis-related theories, as well as drive-reduction theories, are criticized because people often do destructive things and seek stimulation, which do not provide balance.


What does Hull's belief that performance=drive x habit mean?

People will have a drive for something, then use previous behaviors that have accomplished that goal to inform their future actions, or performance.


Explain Edward Tolman's expectancy-value theory.

performance=expectation x value

Combining the importance, or value of a goal, and the likelihood of actually getting it, or expectation, will inform future performance.


What did Henry Murray and David McLelland believe motivated people's behavior?

They believed people wanted to feel like they were successful, so they would modify their behaviors to either achieve success or avoid failure. this is known as the need for achievement.


According to John Atkinson, do we desire success more or fear failure more?

desire success


What was Neil Miller's approach-avoidance conflict?

It is the conflict one feels when a particular goal has both positive and negative valence, like going on a beach vacation (positive valence) when one's is afraid to fly (negative valence).


Hedonism is the belief that behaviors are motivated by the desire to feel ______ and avoid _____.

pleasure; pain


Hebb suggested that a moderate amount of _____ is required for motivation and performance.


Too much or too little arousal will prevent optimal performance on a task. This is known as the Yerkes-Dodson effect.


Stopping at red lights is an example of what type of learning?

response learning


What is the opposite of incidental learning?

intentional learning

Incidental learning happens accidentally, not on purpose.


Decreased response to a familiar stimulus is called what?



Experiments in which an animal presses a bar to get a reward are examples of what?


The animal is changing its own behavior by responding to the reward.


What is the term for one strong stimulus preventing conditioning to a weaker stimulus?



What is the opposite of habituation?


Instead of decreasing responsiveness to a stimulus, one becomes more sensitive to a stimulus after repeated exposure.


How did M.E. Olds help provide evidence against drive-reduction theory?

He used electrical stimulation of the brain's pleasure centers as a form of positive reinforcement, and showed that animals would alter their behavior to receive the stimulation.


Is it easier to learn continuous motor tasks or discrete motor tasks?

continuous tasks

When, like riding a bicycle, one motor task flows into the next, it is easier to learn than a series of individual motor tasks.


At what age is it easiest to learn new things? At what age is it the hardest?

People are able to learn new things most easily between the ages of 3 and 20. After age 50, people are least able to learn.


What is Hermann Ebbinghaus famous for?

his learning curve

He posited that people learn at different rates. Sometimes people learn very quickly early on in a subject or task, and then plateau and learn at a slower rate than before.


Who wrote the first psychology textbook and who wrote the first educational psychology textbook?

Wundt, in 1874; Thorndike, in 1903


The measure of one's capacity to perform a task or learn something new is called what?



What is scaffolding (or scaffolding learning)?

Scaffolding is the process of providing a learner with less and less support as it is needed, until no assistance is needed.