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Learning I: Classical and Instrumental Learning

Is behavior pre-programmed by evolution or biology or is it acquired later in life?

How much of our way of perceiving the world the way we do is inborn and how much is acquired?

1. Some historical background: 19th century biologists and J.B. Watson;  studying learning in animals

2. Forms of learning:

a. Habituation

b. Classical conditioning:  Ivan Pavlov and his salivating dogs; unconditioned stimulus (UCS); unconditioned response (UCR); conditioned response (CR); conditioned stimulus (CS); strength of conditioning; extinction of conditioning; stimulus generalization

c. Conditioning of more complex behaviors – fear; Little Albert

d. Instrumental (operant) conditioning:

e.  Schedules of reinforcement.

f.  Aversive conditioning


1. Learning occurs in response to reinforcement only.
2. Learning is gradual.  It requires many repetitions.
3. Any organism can learn any response (which it can perform)
4. What is learned is RESPONSES, not “ideas”.