Introductory Psychology

Learning

Study Questions

What is Learning?

  1. How do we define learning in terms of associations? What is conditioning?
  2. The Behavorists (Pavlov, Watson, Skinner) were the founders of learning research in psychology, in particular classical and operant conditioning. Did they also initiate research into observational learning? Would they even agree with the notion of observational learning? Why or why not?
Learning What Events Signal: Classical Conditioning
  1. What is classical conditioning? Describe Pavlov's basic demonstration that demonstrated it.
  2. Define each of the components of classical conditioning: unconditioned stimulus, unconditioned response, conditioned stimulus, conditioned response.
  3. What factors are important in the acquisition of a conditioned response?
  4. What happens during extinction? How does extinction relate to spontaneous recovery?
  5. Give an example of (a) stimulus generalization and (b) stimulus discrimination, distinguishing between the two.
  6. Describe second-order conditioning and give an example. How do advertisers use second-order conditioning?
  7. Why is it evident now that classical conditioning does not involve a simple transferring of the unconditioned response to the conditioned stimulus? That is, describe how we currently view classical conditioning (i.e., a more cognitive view of classical conditioning). In your answer, include a brief discussion of expectancy, whether or not the UCS provides new information, and whether or not practice and exact timing (as describe under acquisition) are necessary. Give examples for each of these points. Also discuss the biological constraints on classical conditioning, citing examples as well.
  8. Briefly discuss some applications of classical conditioning, such as advertising, and aversion therapy.
Learning About the Consequences of Behavior: Operational Conditioning
  1. Give a general description of operational conditioning, including how it differs from classical conditioning.
  2. What did Thorndike do in his experiments? How did his findings lead him to propose the law of effect?
  3. What is a Skinner box?
  4. Define generally the concept of reinforcement. What is positive reinforcement?. Give an example.
  5. What is negative reinforcement? How is it different than positive reinforcement? How is it similar?
  6. What is a schedule of reinforcement? What is the difference between a continuous reinforcement schedule and a partial reinforcement schedule?
  7. Describe the four types of partial reinforcement schedules, giving (a) a definition, (b) an example, (c) the pattern of responses for that schedule, and (d) the characteristics of responding during extinction. Which type(s) lead to the fastest rate of responding? Which type(s) are least resistant to extinction?
  8. Define shaping. Describe how you might use shaping to get a dog to roll over. Describe how you might use shaping to get a child to write letters properly.
  9. What does it mean to say that there are "biological constraints on learning?" Give an example of such a constraint.
  10. How does punishment differ from reinforcement? Distinguish between positive punishment and negative punishment, and give an example of each.
  11. What is latent learning? Describe why this type of learning focuses us to take a more cognitive approach to operant conditioning?
  12. Is it best to reinforce all behavior which you want to be repeated? Discuss in terms of the overjustification effect.
  13. Is it possible to condition any behavior through operant conditioning techniques. Discuss in terms of biological dispositions (e.g., instinctive drift).
  14. How can operant conditioning explain superstitious behavior?
  15. What is a token economy? Is it based upon classical or operant conditioning? Explain.
  16. Describe how it is possible to explain phobias in terms of both classical and operant conditioning.
  17. How can we use operant conditioning to "cure" phobias?


Learning by Watching Others:  Observational Learning

  1. Define modeling, in terms of observational learning?
  2. What four factors are important in determining whether observational learning will occur, according to Albert Bandura?