Learning Theories Based on Behavioral Perspectives

Topics: Classical conditioning, Behaviorism, Operant conditioning Pages: 3 (920 words) Published: June 20, 2013

Behaviorism is a school of thought in psychology based on the assumption that learning occurs through interactions with the environment (Cherry,2011). Two other assumptions of this theory are that the environment shapes behaviour and that taking internal mental states into consideration is useless in explaining behaviour.

Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist discovered the classical conditioning in the 1920s. Classical conditioning focuses on the learning of involuntary emotional or physiological responses. In his laboratory, Pavlov was in a dead end by his experiments to determine how long it took a dog to secrete digestive juices after it had been fed, but the intervals of time kept changing. At first, the dogs salivated in the expected manner while they were being fed. Then the dogs began to salivate as soon as they saw the food. Finally, they salivated as soon as they saw the scientists enter the room. Pavlov decided to make a detour from his original experiments and examine these unexpected interferences in his work.

In one of his experiments, Pavlov began by sounding a tuning fork and recording a dog’s response. There was no salivation. At this point, the sound of the tuning fork was a neutral stimulus because it brought forth no salivation. Then Pavlov fed the dog. The response was salivation. The food was an unconditioned stimulus (US) because no prior training or conditioning was establish the natural connection. The salivation was an unconditioned response (UR) because it occurred automatically-no conditioning required.

Using the food, the salivation, a tuning fork, Pavlov demonstrated that a dog could be conditioned to salivate after hearing the tuning fork. At the beginning of the experiment, Pavlov sounded the fork and then quickly fed the dog. After he repeated this several times, the dog began to salivate after hearing the sound but before receiving the food. Now the sound has become a...

References: Cherry, K. (2011). Introduction to classical conditioning.
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Cherry, K. (2011). Introduction to operant conditioning.
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Mcleod, S. (2008). Classical conditioning.
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Woolfolk, A. (2001). Early explanations of learning: Contiguity and classical conditioning. Educational psychology (8th ed.), 203-204.
Woolfolk, A. (2001). Operant conditioning: Trying new responses. Educational psychology (8th ed.), 205-209.
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