Unit 4: Learning

studied byStudied by 112 People



Tags & Description


Studying Progress

New cards
Still learning
Almost Done
53 Terms


the process of acquiring through experience now and relatively enduring information or behaviors


decreasing responsiveness with repeated exposure to a stimulus

associative learning

learning that certain events occur together. The events may be two stimuli (as in classical conditioning) or a response and its consequence (as in operant conditioning)


any event or situation that evokes a response

cognitive learning

the acquisition of mental information, whether by observing events, by watching others, or through language

classical conditioning

a type of learning in which we link two or more stimuli (Pavlov's dogs)


the view that psychology (1) should be an objective science that (2) studies behavior without reference to mental processes. Most research psychologists agree with (1) but not with (2)

neutral stimulus (NS)

in classical conditioning, a stimulus that elicits no response before conditioning

unconditioned response (UR)

in classical conditioning, an unlearned, naturally occurring response (such as salivation) to an unconditioned stimulus (US) (such as food in the mouth)

unconditioned stimulus (US)

in classical conditioning, a stimulus that unconditionally--naturally and automatically--triggers an unconditioned response (UR)

conditioned response (CR)

in classical conditioning, a learned response to a previously neutral (but now conditioned) stimulus (CS)

conditioned stimulus (CS)

in classical conditioning, an originally neutral stimulus that, after association, with an unconditioned stimulus (US), comes to trigger a conditioned response (CR)


in classical conditioning, the initial stage, when one links a neutral stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus so that the neutral stimulus begins triggering the conditioned response. In operant conditioning, the strengthening of a reinforced response

higher-order conditioning

a procedure in which the conditioned stimulus in one conditioning experience is paired with a new neutral stimulus, creating a second (often weaker) conditioned stimulus. For example, an animal that has learned that a tone predicts food might then learn that a light predicts the tone and begin responding to the light alone (also called second-order conditioning)


the diminishing of a conditioned response; occurs in classical conditioning when an unconditioned stimulus (US) does not follow a conditioned stimulus (CS); occurs in operant conditioning when a response is no longer reinforced

spontaneous recovery

the reappearance, after a pause, of an extinguished conditioned response


in classical conditioning, the learned ability to distinguish between a conditioned stimulus and similar stimuli that do not signal an unconditioned stimulus. (In operant conditioning, the ability to distinguish responses that are reinforced from similar responses that are not reinforced.)

operant conditioning

a type of learning in which a behavior becomes more likely to recur if followed by a reinforcer or less likely to recur if followed by a punisher

law of effect

Thorndike's principle that behaviors followed by favorable consequences become more likely, and that behaviors followed by unfavorable consequences become less likely

operant chamber

in operant conditioning research, a chamber (also known as a Skinner box) containing a bar or key that an animal can manipulate to obtain a food or water reinforcer; attached devices record the animal's rate of bar pressing or key pecking


in operant conditioning, any event that strengthens the behavior it follows


an operant conditioning procedure in which reinforcers guide behavior toward closer and closer approximations of the desired behavior

discriminative stimulus

in operant conditioning, a stimulus that elicits a response after association with reinforcement (in contrast to related stimuli not associated with reinforcement)

positive reinforcement

increasing behaviors by presenting positive reinforcers. A positive reinforcer is any stimulus that, when presented after a response, strengthens the response

negative reinforcement

increasing behaviors by stopping or reducing aversive stimuli. A negative reinforcer is any stimulus that, when removed after a response, strengthens the response. (Note: negative reinforcement is not punishment)

primary reinforcer

an innately reinforcing stimulus, such as one that satisfies a biological need

conditioned reinforcer

a stimulus that gains its reinforcing power through its association with a primary reinforcer; also known as a secondary reinforcer

reinforcement schedule

a pattern that defines how often a desired response will be reinforced

continuous reinforcement schedule

reinforcing the desired response every time it occurs

partial (intermittent) reinforcement schedule

reinforcing a response only part of the time; results in slower acquisition of a response but much greater resistance to extinction than does continuous reinforcement

fixed-ration schedule

in operant conditioning, a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response only after a specified number of responses

variable-ratio schedule

in operant conditioning, a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response after an unpredictable number of responses

fixed-interval schedule

in operant conditioning, a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response only after a specified time has elapsed

variable-interval schedule

in operant conditioning, a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response at unpredictable time intervals


an event that tends to decrease the behavior that it follows


a system for electronically recording, amplifying, and feeding back information regarding a subtle physiological state, such as blood pressure or muscle tension


a biological predisposition to learn associations, such as between taste and nausea, that have survival value

instinctive drift

the tendency of learned behavior to gradually revert to biologically predisposed patterns

cognitive map

a mental representation of the layout of one's environment.

latent learning

learning that occurs but is not apparent until there is an incentive to demonstrate it


a sudden realization of a problem's solution; contrasts with strategy-based solutions

intrinsic motivation

a desire to perform a behavior effectively for its own sake

extrinsic motivation

a desire to perform a behavior to receive promised rewards or avoid threatened punishment

problem-focused coping

attempting to alleviate stress directly--by changing the stressor or the way we interact with that stressor

emotion-focused coping

attempting to alleviate stress by avoiding or ignoring a stressor and attending to emotional needs related to our stress reaction

learned helplessness

the hopelessness and passive resignation an animal or person learns when unable to avoid repeated aversive events

external locus of control

the perception that chance or outside forces beyond our personal control determine our fate

internal locus of control

the perception that we control our own fate


the ability to control impulses and delay short-term gratification for greater long-term rewards