Psch Test Chapter 7; Learning

Classical conditioning

Learning process in which a neutral stimulus becomes associated with a meaningful stimulus and acquires the capacity to elicit a similar response

Unconditioned stimulus

something that reliably produces a naturally occurring reaction in an organism

Unconditioned response

a reflexive reaction that is reliably produced be an unconditioned stimulus

Conditioned stimulus

a stimulus that is initially neutral and produces no reliable response in an organism

Conditioned response

a reaction that resembles an unconditioned response but is produced by a conditioned stimulus


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.


A process in which the conditioned response is weakened when the conditioned stimulus is repeated without the unconditioned stimulus.

Spontaneous recovery

Recurrence of an extinguished conditioned response, usually following a rest period

Second-order conditioning

Conditioning where the US is a stimulus that acquired its ability to produce learning from an earlier procedure in which it was used as a CS

Social learning theory

the theory that we learn social behavior by observing and imitating and by being rewarded or punished

Extinction burst

An increase in the frequency of responding when an extinction procedure is initially implemented.

B.F. Skinner

1904-1990; Field: behavioral; Contributions: created techniques to manipulate the consequences of an organism's behavior in order to observe the effects of subsequent behavior; Studies: Skinner box

Fixed interval schedule

reinforcement are presented at fixed time periods, provided the appropriate response is made

Variable interval schedule

behavior is reinforced based on an average time that has expired since the last reinforcement

Fixed ratio schedule

reinforcement is delivered after a specific number of responses have been made

Variable ratio schedule

the delivery of reinforcement is based on a particular average number of responses

Intermittent reinforcement

when only some of the response made are followed by reinforcement; produce slightly higher rates of responding and are more resistant to extinction

Intrinsic reinforcers

Behaviors that a person enjoys engaging in for their own sake without any other reward

Extrinsic reinforcers

Praise or rewards given to motivate people to engage in behavior that they might not engage in without them

Stimulus generalization

A form of learning that occurs when one response is extended to a second stimulus similar to the first

Stimulus discrimination

Learning to respond to only one stimulus and to inhibit the response to all other stimuli

Evolutionary elements of classical conditioning

foraging animals explore their environment (even in places that are not reinforcing)

Thorndike's puzzle box

Cat is placed in a box. ONE KEY ACTION (pressing a lever) will allow the cat to escape. A reward is given upon the cat's escape. Thorndike observed learning from trial to trial.

Law of effect

principle that behaviors that are followed by a 'satisfying state of affairs' tend to be repeated and those that produce an 'unpleasant state of affairs' are less likely to be repeated


An event following a response that strengthens the tendency to make that response.


An event that decreases the behavior that it follows.

Superstitious behavior

rare or odd behaviors may be repeated if they are accidentally reinforced, which may lead to mistaken beliefs regarding casual relationships

Primary reinforcer

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

Secondary reinforcer

Any reinforcer that becomes reinforcing after being paired with a primary reinforcer, such as praise, tokens, or gold stars

Primary punishment

stimulus that does not satisfy our biological needs; specifically causes physiological harm.

Secondary punishment

acquire their aversive properties by being paired with primary punishers or other conditioned punishers. ex. poor grades, criticism, ridicule and sarcasm (Skinner)

Overjustification effect

The effect of promising a reward for doing what one already likes to do. The person may now see the reward, rather than intrinsic interest, as the motivation for performing the task.


learning that results from the reinforcement of successive steps to a final and desired behavior; begin with simple task

Observational learning

Learning by observing others

Implicit learning

learning that takes place largely without awareness of the process or the products of information acquisition


decline in a behavioral response to a stimulus that occurs after repeated presentations of the same stimulus