Fundamentals of Learning
The chapter begins by introducing the central beliefs of behaviorists, one of which
is that humans have no special mental processes in comparison to animals.
studied animal learning to reach their goal of developing a
general process learning
that would apply uniformly to humans and animals.
distinguished between two types of learning.
Pavolvian, or classical conditioning
parallels reflexive behaviors.
This theory posits that learning results from an immediate,
uncontrollable response to a stimulus.
In contrast instrumental, or operant conditioning
describes voluntary behavior where organisms act on the surrounding environment in
order to obtain a reward.
The chapter then describes these two theories and their major
findings in detail.
Before discussing Pavlov’s main findings, the authors define some basic classical
(US) biologically elicits a reliable
reflex, which is called an
brings out a response congruent to the UR after being paired with the US.
response is called a
(CR) and is considered
distinct positive response is produced.
occurs when a CS prevents
a CR from happening.
The US is also termed a
, since it strengthens the CS’s
power to elicit the CR.
The chapter then proceeds to describe some of the phenomena discovered by
Pavlov’s famous dog experiments.
For example, Pavlov found that
produced the CR most rapidly.
In this situation, the CS starts well before the US.
However, if the CS is presented several times without reinforcement,
CR will occur, meaning the CR happens for a while, gradually drops off, and finally
Pavlov also empirically supported the concept of
higher order conditioning
finding that a new, neutral stimuli could be paired with an established CS to produce the
Furthermore, this can happen naturally when a stimuli similar to the CS elicits the
Pavlov called this phenomena
Conversely, Pavlov showed that
could also be conditioned.
He conditioned excitatory and
inhibitory responses to similar (but still distinct) stimuli, showing that the dogs could
distinguish between comparable stimuli.
Pavlov then performed additional trials,
successively making the stimuli more similar.
As he did so, the dog developed symptoms
of acute neurosis.
Pavlov thus concluded the psychopathology is created by conditioning
and can be reversed accordingly.
Although all Pavlov’s experiments were conducted on
animals, John Watson replicated simple classical conditioning and generalization with an
Concurrent with Pavlov’s work in classical conditioning, Thorndike began to