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Imran Ahmad Sajid,


April, 2012
• acquiring of knowledge (James E. Mazur).

• Learning is relatively permanent change in

behaviour brought about by experience (Rod
Plotnik, 1989).

Knowledge: Information in the mind, e.g. facts, ideas, truths, principles, objects, images
Forms of learning
• Conditioning
– Classical conditioning
– Operant/operational/instrumental/functional
• Cognitive learning
– Latent learning
– Observational learning
• Classical conditioning is a form of learning in
which people (or any organism) learns to
associate two stimuli that occur in sequence.
• Classical conditioning occurs when a person
forms a mental association between two
stimuli, so that encountering one stimulus
means the person thinks of the other.

Condition: to make people or animals act or react in a particular way by

gradually getting them used to a specific pattern of events.
Terminologies used
• Classical conditioning was discovered by Ivan Petrovich
Pavlov in 1900s.
• Neutral Stimulus: a stimulus that, before conditioning, has
no effect on the desired response.
• Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS): a stimulus that brings
about a response without having been learned.
• Unconditioned response (UCR): a response that is natural
and needs no training.
• Conditioned Stimulus (CS): Once-neutral stimulus that has
been paired with an unconditioned stimulus to bring about
a response formerly caused only by the unconditioned
• Conditioned response (CR): a response that, after
conditioning, follows a previously neutral stimulus.
Principles of Classical Conditioning
1. The acquisition phase is the initial learning of
the conditioned response—for example, the
dog learning to salivate at the sound of the

Acquisition: the act of acquiring something

2. Extinction is used to describe the elimination
of the conditioned response by repeatedly
presenting the conditioned stimulus without
the unconditioned stimulus.
• If a dog has learned to salivate at the sound of
a bell, an experimenter can gradually
extinguish the dog’s response by repeatedly
ringing the bell without presenting food
3. Spontaneous Recovery.
• Extinction does not mean, however, that the dog
has simply unlearned or forgotten the association
between the bell and the food.
• After extinction, if the experimenter lets a few
hours pass and then rings the bell again, the dog
will usually salivate at the sound of the bell once
• The reappearance of an extinguished response
after some time has passed is called spontaneous
4. Generalization
• After an animal has learned a conditioned
response to one stimulus, it may also respond to
similar stimuli without further training.
• If a child is bitten by a large black dog, the child
may fear not only that dog, but other large dogs.
• This phenomenon is called generalization.
• Less similar stimuli will usually produce less
• For example, the child may show little fear of
smaller dogs.
5. Discrimination
• The opposite of generalization is
discrimination, in which an individual learns to
produce a conditioned response to one
stimulus but not to another stimulus that is
• For example, a child may show a fear response
to freely roaming dogs, but may show no fear
when a dog is on a leash or confined to a pen.
Application of Classical Conditioning

• classical conditioning explains some cases of

phobias, which are irrational or excessive fears
of specific objects or situations.
• classical conditioning explains many
emotional responses—such as happiness,
excitement, anger, and anxiety—that people
have to specific stimuli.
• classical conditioning procedures are used to
treat phobias and other unwanted behaviors,
such as alcoholism and addictions.
• To treat phobias of specific objects, the therapist
gradually and repeatedly presents the feared
object to the patient while the patient relaxes.
• Through extinction, the patient loses his or her
fear of the object.
• In one treatment for alcoholism, patients drink an
alcoholic beverage and then ingest a drug that
produces nausea.
• Eventually they feel nauseous at the sight or
smell of alcohol and stop drinking it.
• Operant or Instrumental Conditioning is a
type of learning in which voluntary behavior is
strengthened if it is reinforced and weakened
if it is punished.
• Note: Skinner referred to this as Instrumental Conditioning/Learning

• The term operant conditioning refers to the

fact that the learner must operate, or perform
a certain behaviour, before receiving a reward
or punishment.
Edward L. Thorndike’s Law of Effect
• This law states that
behaviors that are
followed by pleasant
consequences will be
strengthened, and will be
more likely to occur in the
• Conversely, behaviors
that are followed by
unpleasant consequences Thorndike’s Puzzle box
will be weakened, and
will be less likely to be
repeated in the future.
B.F. Skinner Experiments
• American psychologist B. F. Skinner became
one of the most famous psychologists in
history for his pioneering research on operant
• In fact, he coined the term operant
• Beginning in the 1930s, Skinner spent several
decades studying the behavior of animals—
usually rats or pigeons—in chambers that
became known as Skinner boxes.
• Like Thorndike’s puzzle box, the Skinner box was
a barren chamber in which an animal could earn
food by making simple responses, such as
pressing a lever or a circular response key.
• A device attached to the box recorded the
animal’s responses.
Principles of Operant Conditioning
1. Reinforcement refers to any process that strengthens a
particular behavior—that is, increases the chances that
the behavior will occur again.
– Positive reinforcement: a method of strengthening
behavior by following it with a pleasant stimulus.
– Negative reinforcement: Negative reinforcement is a
method of strengthening a behavior by following it with
the removal or omission of an unpleasant stimulus.
1. Escape: In escape, performing a particular behavior leads to the
removal of an unpleasant stimulus.
2. Avoidance: In avoidance, people perform a behavior to avoid
unpleasant consequences.
2. Punishment weakens a behaviour, reducing
the chances that the behavior will occur again.
– Positive: involves reducing a behavior by
delivering an unpleasant stimulus if the behavior
– Negative: involves reducing a behavior by
removing a pleasant stimulus if the behavior
Types of Reinforcement and Punishment
Positive Negative Punishment
Reinforcement Reinforcement

Stimulus is Added Removed Added or removed

Desired effect on Increases in response Increase in response Decrease in
behaviour strength strength response strength

Example Giving a raise for Taking an aspirin to Penalizing for

good performance relieve a headache misbehaving leads
leads to increase in leads to a higher future to a decrease in
good performance likelihood of taking frequency of that
aspirin behaviour

stimulus Behaviour/action
3. Shaping is a reinforcement technique that is used to
teach animals or people behaviours that they have
never performed before.

• In this method, the teacher begins by reinforcing a
response the learner can perform easily, and then
gradually requires more and more difficult responses.
• For example, to teach a rat to press a lever that is over
its head, the trainer can first reward any upward head
movement, then an upward movement of at least one
inch, then two inches, and so on, until the rat reaches
the lever.
4. extinction is the elimination of a learned
behavior by discontinuing the reinforcer of
that behavior.
A behaviour learned is not always permanent.
If a rate has learned to press a lever because it receives food for doing so, its
lever-pressing will decrease and eventually disappear if food is no longer
5. Generalization and discrimination occur in
operant conditioning in much the same way that
they do in classical conditioning.
• In generalization, people perform a behaviour
learned in one situation in other, similar
• For example, a man who is rewarded with
laughter when he tells certain jokes at a bar may
tell the same jokes at restaurants, parties, or
wedding receptions.

Generalizing Pakhtoons or Punjabis or Sardars etc.

• Discrimination is learning that a behavior will
be reinforced in one situation but not in
• The man may learn that telling his jokes in
church or at a serious business meeting will
not make people laugh.
Application of Operant Conditioning
• Parents
• Teachers
• Behavior therapists use shaping techniques to teach
basic job skills to adults with mental retardation.
• Therapists use reinforcement techniques to teach self-
care skills to people with severe mental illnesses, such
as schizophrenia, and use punishment and extinction
to reduce aggressive and antisocial behaviors by these
• to treat stuttering, marital problems, drug addictions,
impulsive spending, eating disorders, and many other
behavioral problems.
Comparison of Classical & Operant
Classical Conditioning Operant Conditioning

• Learning occurs by • Learning depends on

pairing of two what the learner
stimuli, no matter does—learning occurs
what the learner when a reinforcer
consistently follows a
does. particular response.
• Responses learned in • Responses are regularly
Classical Conditioning followed by
are stereotyped and reinforcement or
reflexes. reward.
Cognitive Approaches to Learning
• Cognitive learning theory is an approach to the
study of learning that focuses on the thought
processes ( ) that underlie learning.

• Rather than concentrating solely on external

stimuli, responses, and reinforcements,
Cognitive-Social Learning theorists focus on the
unseen mental processes that occur during
1. Latent Learning
• Latent learning is learning in which a new
behaviour is acquired but is not demonstrated
until some incentive is provided for displaying

Latent: hidden; present but unexpressed

Tolman’s Maze Experiment

Maze: puzzle made of connecting parts.

• Rats: one maze
• One group found food
every time (red line)
• Second group never
found food (blue line)
• Third group found
food on Day 11 (green
– Sudden change, day
• Learning isn’t the
same as performance
• Cognitive-map –a mental representation of
spatial locations and directions.
2. Observational Learning
• Learning through observing the behaviour of
another person called a model (Robert S.
Feldman., 2005. p.211).

Essential Factors for Observational Learning

a. Attention,
b. Retention,
c. Reproduction, and
d. Motivation
a. Attention
• First, the learner must pay attention to the
crucial details of the model’s behavior.
• A young girl watching her mother bake a cake
will not be able to imitate this behavior
successfully unless she pays attention to many
important details—ingredients, quantities,
oven temperature, baking time, and so on.
b. Retention
• Retention—the learner must be able to retain
all of this information in memory until it is
time to use it.
• If the person forgets important details, he or
she will not be able to successfully imitate the

Retention: the ability to remember things

c. Reproduction
• Third, the learner must have the physical skills
and coordination needed for reproduction of
the behavior.
• The young girl must have enough strength and
dexterity to mix the ingredients, pour the
batter, and so on, in order to bake a cake on
her own.
d. Motivation
• Finally, the learner must have the motivation
to imitate the model.
• That is, learners are more likely to imitate a
behavior if they expect it to lead to some type
of reward or reinforcement.
• If learners expect that imitating the behavior
will not lead to reward or might lead to
punishment, they are less likely to imitate the