Conditioning and Learning

Topics: Classical conditioning, Operant conditioning, Behaviorism Pages: 7 (2385 words) Published: September 26, 2014
Conditioning and Learning
From the moment any living being is born to the moment it dies, they are constantly learning. Learning is a change in behavior based on previous experiences. It may involve processing and interpreting many different types of information. Learning functions are performed by different brain learning processes, which depend on the dynamic mental capacities of the learning subject. There are three main forms of learning for the human mind: classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and social learning. Classical conditioning is the simple learning process where a neutral stimulus is able to evoke a response because it has been paired with another stimulus that originally elicits that response. This can also refer to a predictable sequence of events in which one responds to a first event in anticipation of the next. In classical conditioning, the subject learns to make a reflex response to a stimulus that is different from the original, natural stimulus that would normally produce that response. For classical conditioning to occur, several elements must be present: an unconditioned stimulus (UCS) is the naturally occurring stimulus that leads to an involuntary response, an unconditioned response (UCR) is an involuntary response to a naturally occurring or unconditioned stimulus, a neural stimulus (NS) is stimulus that has no effect on the desired response, a conditioned stimulus (CS) is a stimulus that becomes able to produce a learned reflex response by being paired with the original unconditioned stimulus, and a conditioned response (CR) is a learned reflex response to a conditioned stimulus. Ivan Pavlov contributed to this theory by performing an experiment that involved ringing a bell (NS) and giving food (UCS) to dogs so they begin to salivate (UCR). Later, when he rang the bell (CS) again, the dogs automatically salivation (CR) without any food even being given. Operant conditioning, on the other hand, is another form of learning that is based on the reaction of one in a very forced situation. Its conditioning arises through a sequence of rewards or punishments after a behavior. This learning process is based from the consequence of any behavior that then affects the degree in which that behavior is likely to occur. The main concepts in operant conditioning include shaping, extinction, reinforcement, and spontaneous recovery. Shaping is the reinforcement of simple steps in behavior that leads to a desired behavior. Extinction is the disappearance or weakening of a learned response after the removal of the unconditioned response. Reinforcement is any stimulus which can be positive or negative. Spontaneous recovery is the recurrence of a conditioned response after extinction. Edward Lee Thorndike first developed the general idea, called the Law of Effect, for studying operant conditioning during an experimental procedure in which initially random behaviors of cats leading to their release had eventually become reinforced by the positive consequences. Later, the behaviorist B.F. Skinner developed and broadened this theory by explaining that any behavior that is voluntary is operant behavior, but if the behavior is reinforced, the behavior is more likely to be repeated. Another type of learning is social learning which occurs when a behavior is observed and mimicked. People learn through observing others’ behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors. Albert Bandura applied the principles of classical and operant conditioning to social learning. Basically, people learn behaviors through observation of other’s behavior, also known as modeling. "Most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling. From observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and then that information serves as a guide for action" (Bandura). The social learning theory explains human behavior in terms of continuous interaction between cognitive, behavioral, social, and...
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