Chapter 5 in Ciccarelli, S.K. and White, J. N. (2017). Psychology (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc. Publishers.Outline the chapter using the format in the sample provided.Then at the end write a 3 paragraph (5-7 sentences each) explanation of how you have seen the material in the real world, in your life, or your reaction to the material from the chapter.
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Chapter 5
Yoshiko’s first-grade teacher started a reading contest. For every book read, a child
would get a gold star on the reading chart, and at the end of one month the child with
the most stars would get a prize. Yoshiko went to the library and checked out several
books each week. At the end of the month, Yoshiko had the most gold stars and got to
stand in front of her classmates to receive her prize. Would it be candy? A toy? She was
so excited! Imagine her surprise and mild disappointment when the big prize turned out
to be another book! Disappointing prize aside, Yoshiko’s teacher had made use of a key
technique of learning called reinforcement. Reinforcement is anything that, when following a response, increases the likelihood that the response will occur again. The reinforcers
of gold stars and a prize caused Yoshiko’s reading to increase.
How have you used reinforcement to modify your own
behavior or the behavior of others?
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Why study learning?
If we had not been able to learn, we would have died out as a species long ago.
Learning is the process that allows us to adapt to the changing conditions of the
world around us. We can alter our actions until we find the behavior that leads
us to survival and rewards, and we can eliminate actions that have been unsuccessful in the past. Without learning, there would be no buildings, no agriculture, no lifesaving medicines, and no human civilization.
Learning Objectives
Discuss the meaning of the term learning.
Describe and explain the origins of classical conditioning and its
important elements.
Define conditioned emotional responses, and explain conditioned
taste aversions.
Describe the theory of operant conditioning and how it differs
from classical conditioning, and explain the contributions of
Thorndike and Skinner.
Differentiate between primary and secondary reinforcers and the
processes of positive and negative reinforcement.
Distinguish among the schedules of reinforcement.
Compare and contrast punishment with reinforcement, and list
some of the problems associated with using punishment.
Describe the role of operant stimuli in controlling behavior as well as
other concepts that can enhance or limit operant conditioning.
Describe how operant conditioning is used to change animal and
human behavior, and identify some limitations to its use.
5.10 Define and explain the concept of latent learning.
5.11 Explain the concept of insight learning.
5.12 Explain the concept of learned helplessness.
5.13 Describe the process of observational learning.
5.14 List the four elements of observational learning.
5.15 Provide and describe an example of conditioning in the
real world.
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166  chapter 5
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Definition of Learning
5.1 Discuss the meaning of the term learning.
The term learning is one of those concepts whose meaning is crystal clear until one has to
put it into actual words. “Learning is when you learn something.” “Learning is learning
how to do something.” A more useful definition is as follows: Learning is any relatively
permanent change in behavior brought about by experience or practice.
Watch the Video
Study Methods
Managing Time
Reading the Text
What does “relatively permanent” mean? And how does experience change what we do?
Lecture Notes
Exam Prep
The “relatively permanent” part of the definition refers to the fact that when p
­ eople
learn anything, some part of their brain is physically changed to record what they’ve
learned. This is actually a process of memory, for without the ability to remember
what happens, people cannot learn anything. Although there is no conclusive proof as
yet, research suggests strongly that once people learn something, it is always present
­somewhere in memory (Barsalou, 1992; Smolen et al., 2008). They may be unable to “get”
to it, but it’s there.
to Learning Objective 6.5.
As for the inclusion of experience or practice,
think about the last time you did something that
caused you a lot of pain. Did you do it again? You
didn’t want to experience that pain again, so you
changed your behavior to avoid the painful consequence.* This is how children learn not to touch
hot stoves. In contrast, if a person does something
resulting in a very pleasurable experience, that person is more likely to do that same thing again. This
is another change in behavior and is explained by
the law of effect, a topic we will discuss later in this
Not all change is accomplished through An instantaneous learning experience.
learning. Changes like an increase in height or the
size of the brain are another kind of change controlled by a genetic blueprint. This kind
of change is called maturation and is due to biology, not experience. For example, children
learn to walk when they do because their nervous systems, muscle strength, and sense of
balance have reached the point where walking is possible for them—all factors controlled
by maturation, not by how much practice those children have had in trying to walk. No
amount of experience or practice will help that child walk before maturation makes it
possible—in spite of what some eager parents might wish.
Paper Writing
Improve Memory
Critical Thinking
Concept Map L.O. 1.1
Definition of Learning
(any relatively permanent change in behavior brought about by experience or practice)
“relatively permanent” aspect of learning
refers to learning being associated
with physical changes in the brain
although physical changes may be
present we may not always be able
to “get” to the information
*consequence: an end result of some action.
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Learning  167
Practice Quiz
How much do you remember?
answers on page ak-1.
Pick the best answer.
1. Learning can best be described as
a. a relatively permanent change in behavior.
3. Which of the following statements on the relationship between
learning and memory is true?
b. a permanent change in behavior.
a. One need not learn a piece of information in order to remember it.
c. due primarily to unconscious motives.
b. Memory can exist independent of learning, and learning can
exist independent of memory.
d. momentary changes that require biological changes from
2. Which of the following statements regarding learning is not true?
a. Learning can be the result of experience.
b. Learning, once established in the brain, is a permanent change
that cannot be undone, but can only be altered.
c. Learning can be the result of practice.
d. The brain physically changes when a person undergoes
c. Once a person learns something, it is always present somewhere in memory.
d. Memory skills develop far earlier in life than learning skills, and
there is evidence that we actually have memories from as far
back as the moment we are conceived.
4. Changes in our lives that result from heredity rather than our personal experiences are called _________.
a. development
c. typographic changes
b. learning
d. maturation
It Makes Your Mouth Water:
Classical Conditioning
In the early 1900s, research scientists were unhappy with psychology’s focus on m
­ ental
to Learning Objective 1.3. Many were looking for a way to bring
some kind of objectivity and scientific research to the field. It was a Russian ­physiologist
(a ­person who studies the workings of the body) named Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936) who
­pioneered the empirical study of the basic principles of a particular kind of learning
(Pavlov, 1906, 1926).
Pavlov and the Salivating Dogs
5.2 Describe and explain the origins of classical conditioning and its important
Studying the digestive system in his dogs, Pavlov had built a device that would accurately measure the amount of saliva produced by the dogs when they were fed a measured amount of food. Normally, when food is placed in the mouth of any animal, the
salivary glands automatically start releasing saliva to help with chewing and digestion.
This is a normal reflex—an unlearned, involuntary* response that is not under personal
control or choice—one of many that occur in both animals and humans. The food causes
the particular reaction of salivation. A stimulus can be defined as any object, event, or experience that causes a response, the reaction of an organism. In the case of Pavlov’s dogs,
the food is the stimulus and salivation is the response.
Pavlov soon discovered that his dogs began salivating when they weren’t supposed
to be salivating. Some dogs would start salivating when they saw the lab assistant bringing their food, others when they heard the clatter of the food bowl from the kitchen, and
still others when it was the time of day they were usually fed. Pavlov spent the rest of
his career studying what eventually he termed classical conditioning, learning to elicit*
*involuntary: not under personal control or choice.
*elicit: to draw forth.
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Dr. Ivan Pavlov and students working
in his laboratory. Pavlov, a Russian
physiologist, was the first to study
and write about the basic principles
of classical conditioning.
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168  chapter 5
an involuntary, reflex-like response to a stimulus other than the original, natural stimulus that normally produces it.
Pavlov eventually identified several key elements that must be present and experienced in a particular way for conditioning to take place.
Unconditioned Stimulus The original, naturally occurring stimulus mentioned in
the preceding paragraph is called the unconditioned stimulus (UCS). The term unconditioned means “unlearned” or “naturally occurring.” This is the stimulus that ordinarily
leads to the involuntary response. In the case of Pavlov’s dogs, the food is the unconditioned stimulus.
Unconditioned Response The automatic and involuntary response to the unconditioned stimulus is called the unconditioned response (UCR) for much the same reason. It
is unlearned and occurs because of genetic “wiring” in the nervous system. For example,
in Pavlov’s experiment, the salivation to that food is the UCR (unconditioned response).
Conditioned Stimulus Pavlov determined that almost any kind of stimulus could become associated with the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) if it is paired with the UCS often
enough. In his original study, for example, the sight of the food dish itself became a stimulus for salivation before the food was given to the dogs. Every time they got food (to which
they automatically salivated), they saw the dish. At this point, the dish was called a neutral
stimulus (NS) because it had no effect on salivation. After being paired with the food so
many times, the dish came to produce the same salivation response, although a somewhat
weaker one, as did the food itself. When a previously neutral stimulus, through repeated
pairing with the unconditioned stimulus, begins to cause the same kind of involuntary
response, learning has occurred. The neutral stimulus can now be called a conditioned
stimulus (CS). (Unconditioned means “unlearned,” and conditioned means “learned.”)
The response that is given to the CS (conditioned stimulus)
is not usually quite as strong as the original unconditioned response (UCR), but it is essentially the same response. However, because it comes as a response to the conditioned
stimulus (CS), it is called the conditioned response (CR).
Conditioned Response
Putting It All Together: Pavlov’s Canine Classic, or Tick Tock, Tick Tock
Pavlov did a classic experiment in which he paired the ticking sound of a metronome (a
simple device that produces a rhythmic ticking sound) with the presentation of food to
see if the dogs would eventually salivate at the sound of the metronome (Pavlov, 1927).
Since the metronome’s ticking did not normally produce salivation, it was a neutral stimulus (NS) before any conditioning took place. The repeated pairing of a NS and the UCS
(unconditioned stimulus) is usually called acquisition, because the organism is in the process of acquiring learning. Figure 5.1 is a chart of how each element of the conditioning
relationship worked in Pavlov’s experiment.
Notice that the responses, CR (conditioned response) and UCR (unconditioned
response), are the same—salivation. They simply differ in what they are the response to.
An unconditioned stimulus (UCS) is always followed by an unconditioned response (UCR),
and a conditioned stimulus (CS) is always followed by a conditioned response (CR).
Is this rocket science? No, not really. Classical conditioning is actually one of the simplest forms of learning. It’s so simple that it happens to people all the time without them
even being aware of it. Does your mouth water when you merely see an advertisement for
your favorite food on television? Does your stomach get upset every time you hear the
high-pitched whine of the dentist’s drill? These are both examples of classical conditioning.
After all the dog stories, the salivation to the TV ad probably needs no explanation,
but what about the dentist’s drill? Over the course of many visits, the body comes to associate that sound (CS) with the anxiety or fear (UCR) the person has felt while receiving
a painful dental treatment (UCS), and so the sound produces a feeling of anxiety (CR)
whether that person is in the chair or just in the outer waiting area.
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Learning  169
Figure 5.1
Before Conditioning
Neutral Stimulus
(NS) Metronome
No Salivation
During Conditioning
Neutral Stimulus
(NS) Metronome
Unconditioned Stimulus
(UCS) Food
Unconditioned Response
(UCR) Salivation
After Conditioning
Conditioned Stimulus
(CS) Metronome
Conditioned Response
(CR) Salivation
Before conditioning takes place, the sound of the metronome does not cause salivation and is a neutral
stimulus, or NS. During conditioning, the sound of the metronome occurs just before the presentation of the
food, the UCS. The food causes salivation, the UCR. When conditioning has occurred after several pairings of
the metronome with the food, the metronome will begin to elicit a salivation response from the dog without any
food. This is learning, and the sound of the metronome is now a CS and the salivation to the bell is the CR.
Although classical conditioning happens quite easily, there are a few basic principles that Pavlov and other researchers discovered (although we will see that there are a
few exceptions to some of these principles):
1. The CS must come before the UCS. If Pavlov started the metronome just after he
gave the dogs the food, they did not become conditioned (Rescorla, 1988).
2. The CS and UCS must come very close together in time—ideally, no more than
5 seconds apart. When Pavlov tried to stretch the time between the potential
CS and the UCS to several minutes, no association or link between the two was
made. Too much could happen in the longer interval of time to interfere with conditioning (Pavlov, 1926; Wasserman & Miller, 1997). Recent studies have found that
the interstimulus interval (ISI, or the time between the CS and UCS) can vary depending on the nature of the conditioning task and even the organism being conditioned. In these studies, shorter ISIs (less than 500 milleseconds) have been found
to be ideal for conditioning (Polewan et al., 2006).
3. The neutral stimulus must be paired with the UCS several times, often many times,
before conditioning can take place (Pavlov, 1926).
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Strength of GSR
(galvanic skin response)
170  chapter 5
4. The CS is usually some stimulus that is distinctive* or stands out from other
competing stimuli. The ticking was a sound that was not normally present in
the laboratory and, therefore, distinct (Pavlov, 1926; Rescorla, 1988).
CS during
Figure 5.2 Strength of the
Generalized Response
An example of stimulus generalization. The
UCS was an electric shock and the UCR
was the galvanic skin response (GSR),
a measure associated with anxiety. The
subjects had been conditioned originally to
a CS tone (0) of a given frequency. When
tested with the original tone, and with
tones 1, 2, and 3 of differing frequencies,
a clear generalization effect appeared. The
closer the frequency of the test tone to the
frequency of tone 0, the greater was the
magnitude of the galvanic skin response to
the tone (Hovland, 1937).
Pavlov did find that s­ imilar
sounds would produce the same conditioned response from his dogs. He and
other researchers found that the strength of the response to the similar sounds was
not as strong as to the original one, but the more similar the other sound was to
the original sound (be it a metronome or any other kind of sound), the more similar the strength of the response was as well (Siegel, 1969). (See Figure 5.2.) The
tendency to respond to a stimulus that is only similar to the original conditioned
stimulus is called stimulus generalization. For example, a person who reacts with
anxiety to the sound of a dentist’s drill might react with some slight anxiety to a
similar-sounding machine, such as an electric coffee grinder. Of course, Pavlov did not
give the dogs any food after the similar ticking sound. It didn’t take long for the dogs
to stop responding (generalizing) to the “fake” ticking sounds altogether. Because only
the real CS was followed with food, they learned to tell the difference, or discriminate,
between the “fake” ticking and the CS ticking, a process called stimulus discrimination.
Stimulus discrimination occurs when an organism learns to respond to different stimuli
in different ways. For ­example, ­although the sound of the coffee grinder might produce a
little anxiety in the dental-drill-hating person, after a few uses that sound will no longer
produce anxiety because it isn’t associated with dental pain.
Stimulus Generalization and Discrimination
Extinction and Spontaneous Recovery What would have happened if Pavlov
had stopped giving the dogs food after the real CS? Pavlov did just that, and the dogs
gradually stopped salivating to the sound of the ticking. When the metronome’s ticking
(CS or conditioned stimulus) was repeatedly presented in the absence of the UCS (unconditioned stimulus or food, in this case), the salivation (CR or conditioned response) “died
out” in a process called extinction.
Why does the removal of an unconditioned stimulus lead to extinction of the conditioned response? One theory is that the presentation of the CS alone leads to new learning.
During extinction, the CS–UCS association that was learned is weakened, as the CS no
longer predicts the UCS. In the case of Pavlov’s dogs, through extinction they learned to
not salivate to the metronome’s ticking, as it no longer predicted that food was on its way.
Look back at Figure 5.1. Once conditioning is acquired, the conditioned stimulus (CS) and conditioned response (CR) will always come before the original unconditioned stimulus (UCS). The UCS, which comes after the CS and CR link, now serves as a
strengthener, or reinforcer, of the CS–CR association. Remove that reinforcer, and the CR
it strengthens will weaken and disappear—at least for a while.
The term extinction is a little unfortunate in that it seems to mean that the original
conditioned response is totally gone, dead, never coming back, just like the dinosaurs.
Remember that the definition of learning is any relatively permanent change in behavior. The fact is that once people learn something, it’s almost impossible to “unlearn” it.
People can learn new thi …
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