Learning Processes

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Learning Experiences

Kourtney Law


September 25, 2012

A fear of something may begin as an involuntary response that is then reinforced through experience. Fears that arise out of experience may be based an isolated event, or a recurring event that reinforces the behavior. This experience which causes the fear can be analyzed through classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and cognitive-social learning. For example, an individual with a fear of dogs may have had a natural fear without any negative experience which then may be reinforced through actual negative situations. There may not be an explanation of why this fear develops just as a person may have distaste for certain foods, types of music, or specific hobbies, however circumstances may reinforce the fear that commenced without a definitive cause. Someone may have a fear but the fear may not necessarily be one that exists long term when reinforced with positive reinforcements it can be diminished or not so debilitating. This paper will discuss a particular individual, or subject, and her experiences which led to intense fear of dogs, that then diminished as a result of a long periods of positivity in her interactions with dogs.

Classical Conditioning
“Classical conditioning helps explain such diverse phenomena as crying at the sight of a bride walking down the aisle, fearing the dark, and falling in love.” In other words, having a particular experience or series of experiences brings about a permanent change in behavior. The subject as a child had a natural fear of dogs which could be be attributed to lack of interaction, and feeling intimidated by their size, which formed a feeling of danger. Another unconditional stimulus to reinforce this fear is that dogs bark, and their behavior can be unpredictable, which can instill a sense of fear and danger. These natural fears became conditioned through reinforcement from the subject’s parents to be...
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