• A relatively permanent change in behavior
brought about by experience.
– Classical Conditioning
– Operant Conditioning
• Pavlov was not a psychologist but was a
physiologist who studied the digestive system of
• He began to notice that the dogs he was studying
would salivate when they saw the research
assistant, who normally fed them, even when he
had no food and was not feeding them.
• Pavlov became curious and devised an
A type of learning in which a neutral stimulus comes to
bring about a response after it is paired with a stimulus that
naturally brings about that response.
Neutral Stimulus: A stimulus, that before conditioning, does not
naturally bring about the response of interest.
Unconditioned Stimulus: A stimulus that naturally brings about a
particular response without having been learned.
Unconditioned Response: A response that is natural and needs
Conditioned Stimulus: A once-neutral stimulus that has been
paired with an unconditioned stimulus to bring about a response
formerly caused only by the unconditioned stimulus.
Conditioned Response: A response that after conditioning,
follows a previously neutral stimulus.
The Classical Conditioning Process
and Pavlov’s Dogs
• Pavlov began by performing an operation on the
dogs which would divert the saliva from their
mouth to a container for measuring.
• Phase 1: Pavlov placed meat powder in the dogs
mouth and confirmed the dogs automatic
salivation. Pavlov then confirmed no salivation
when the dog only heard a musical tone.
– The two basic components of Pavlov’s experiment.
• Reflex: a quick automatic response
• Neutral Stimulus: does not trigger a reflex
• Phase 2: The musical tone (Neutral Stimulus) was
sounded and then the meat powder
(Unconditioned Stimulus) was placed in the dogs
mouth. Result= salivation (Unconditioned
Response) This process was repeated several
• Phase 3: The tone was sounded but no meat
powder was given. Result= salivation
– Tone (Conditioned Stimulus)>>>>Salivation
The conditioning process has now occurred. The tone
has now changed from a neutral stimulus to give a
conditioned response of salivation.
• What would happen if you continued to sound the tone repeatedly without pairing it
with the meat powder? Extinction: The gradual disappearance of a conditioned
response. A basic phenomenon of learning that occurs when a previously conditioned
response decreases in frequency and eventually disappears.
• But the conditioning is not totally forgotten. After pairing the meat powder and the
tone again for only one or two times the dog will began to salivate again. This is called
reconditioning: the relearning of a conditioned response following extinction.
• But sometimes the pairing may not be needed to get the conditioned response. The
dog may hear a musical tone or similar sound months after extinction has occurred and
salivate. This is called spontaneous recovery: the reemergence of an extinguished
conditioned response after a period of rest and with no further conditioning.
• Stimulus Generalization: occurs when a conditioned response follows a stimulus that is
similar to the original conditioned stimulus. This is why if we get sick from drinking
soured milk we will know to avoid any other dairy product that smells the same way as
the soured milk.
• Stimulus Discrimination: The process that occurs if two stimuli are sufficiently distinct
from each other that one evokes a conditioned response but the other does not. This is
why you may wake up when you hear your own child cry out for you in the middle of
the night but not wake up when you have family visiting and your niece or another child
begins to cry.
Skinner noted that, during instrumental
conditioning, an organism learns a response by
operating on the environment.
Operant Conditioning: Learning in which a
voluntary response is strengthened or weakened,
depending on its favorable or unfavorable
To study operant conditioning Skinner developed
the Skinner Box in which an animal would be
either rewarded or punished for an action and
then the results would be recorded.
• Unlike the classical conditioning process in which
the salivation of the dog had no effect on
whether the tone would be sounded or not
operant conditioning is different.
• Reinforcer: any stimulus that increases the
probability that a preceding behavior will occur
– Positive Reinforcer: A stimulus added to the
environment that brings about an increase in a
preceding response. Ex. Your child cleans their room
and you give them $.
– Negative Reinforcer: An unpleasant stimulus whose
removal leads to an increase in the probability that a
preceding response will be repeated in the future. Ex.
If you have a headache this is an unpleasant stimuli so
you take Tylenol, a neg. reinforcer, to take away the
• Punishment: A stimulus that decreases the
probability that a previous behavior will occur
– Ex 1. A child is spanked after hitting his brother.
– Ex 2. A child is put in time out after lying.
– Ex 3. A child is not allowed to spend the night with
a friend after refusing to clean their room.
– Ex 4. A child has their DS game taken away after
talking back to their father.
• Schedules of Reinforcement:
– Reinforcement is based on a number of responses
• Fixed Ratio Schedule: A schedule of reinforcement that
is given only after a specific number of responses are
made. Ex. A rat presses a bar and is only rewarded with
a pellet after 10 bar presses.
• Variable Ratio Schedule: A schedule by which
reinforcement occurs after a varying number of
responses rather than after a fixed number. Ex. A rat
presses a bar and is rewarded with a pellet after the
10th bar press one time and then after the 25th bar
press and then the 100th bar press. The reward for the
bar press is still there but it varies and will average out
to be a VR of 30. Gambling is another example of
unpredictable lever pulls and rewards for them.
– Reinforcement is based on a length of time.
• Fixed Interval Schedule: A schedule that provides
reinforcement for a response only if a fixed time period
had elapsed. Ex. A rat is rewarded for his first response
after 10 minutes has past from his last response no
matter how many times he presses the bar.
• Variable Interval Schedule: A schedule by which the
time between reinforcements varies around some
average rather than being fixed. Ex. The rat is rewarded
with a pellet after 10 seconds, 60 seconds or 2 minutes
no matter how many times he presses the bar. The
reward times vary but may have an average of 30
Forming and Strengthening Operant Behavior.
Shaping: The process of teaching a complex
behavior by rewarding closer and closer
approximations of the desired behavior. Ex.
Give dog a treat when he sits down
Give dog treat when he sits and then partially lifts his
Then only reinforce with a treat when the dog sits and
completely lifts his paw.
Finally the dog will only get a treat when he sits and
lifts his paw and then shakes your hand.
Behavior Modification: A formalized technique for
promoting the frequency of desirable behaviors and
decreasing the incidence of unwanted ones.
Cognitive Processes in Learning
• Learned Helplessness: A process in which a
person or animal stops trying to exert control
after experience suggests that no control is
• A tendency to give up on efforts to control our
• Ex. Battered women.
Cognitive Approaches to Learning
• Latent Learning: Learning in which a new
behavior is acquired but is not demonstrated
until some incentive is provided for displaying it.
– Ex. Never having gone to Kings Pharmacy on a
Saturday but yet you are able to tell your mother it is
closed on Saturdays when she mentions she needs to
go get her medicine.
• Cognitive Map: A mental representation of
spatial locations and directions. (some physical
– Ex. When a visitor to your school asks you how to get
to the library you can tell them where to go.
• Observational Learning (Social Learning):
Learning by observing the behavior of another
person or model.
– Ex 1. We learn not to touch the hot stove when we
see someone else get burned.
• Vicarious Conditioning: A kind of observational learning
through which a person is influenced by watching or hearing
about the consequences of other’s behavior.
– Ex. Bandura found that children who saw an adult rewarded for
aggressive acts showed the most aggressive acts themselves
when involved in play activities.