Chapter 5: Learning

The Andreasson Web-Site:


          How important is learning in our lives? What have learned to “hold onto?”  What do we have to learn to “let go of…” What new habits and skills help us to become successful and happy?

          In this chapter we will explore aspects of Classical and Operant Conditioning in both animals and humans. We will discuss the role of Observational learning as applies to humans. The work of I. Pavlov, J.B. Watson [Little Albert], & B.F Skinner will be viewed in the context of the contributions they made to the psychology of learning. Please read you schedule for additional topics listed.

          Lecture:  The processes associated with classical conditioning include stimulus generalization, stimulus discrimination, extinction, and spontaneous recovery. The phenomena associated with operant conditioning include positive and negative reinforcement, punishment, shaping, successive approximations, and schedules of reinforcement. Observational learning researchers study the factors that influence whether a model will be imitated, as well as the influence of media violence or aggressive behavior, etc. For example, what mass medial figure(s) helped to shape some of your behaviors and/or dress code-decorations?

          Their were some very important psychologists who helped shape the development of learning: Ivan Pavlov, the Nobel Prize-winning Russian physiologist who first described classical conditioning; John B. Watson, the founder of behaviorism, who challenged mainstream thinking in psychology; Edward L. Thorndike, the first psychologist to systematically study the effects of consequences on behavior; B.F. Skinner, who used the “Skinner Box” and applied principles of “operant conditioning to humans, Edward Tolman, to contributed to our understanding of “cognitive maps” and “latent learning;” and Albert Bandura, the father of observational learning. Unlike the pioneers who developed the theories of learning, most contemporary psychologists take into account the cognitive processes and biological predispositions that help determine whether an organism will learn a behavior.

          So my dear students, what is your favorite food(s)? Why do you like these foods? What’s you’re favorite music and dress style? Why?





Assignment: [chapter 5: Learning]


          Be prepared to discuss some aspects of learning theory in both a practical and theoretical way. Use at least two of the following sites and be prepared to share [or be called upon personally] this with the class. Some of this will most likely involve “Team Presentations.”


1.  Albert Bandura’s Personality Theory which discusses the theory of “reciprocal determinism.


Part of a Web site on persuasion and influence related to a communications course which presents a nice summary of classical conditioning.

3.        http://www.biozentrum.uni-  Although rather a long URL, this site presents a comprehensive overview of the early days of behaviorism at this Web site.

4.  This site seems to provide commercial animal trainers with tips has an outstanding, clear, and enormously useful explanation of the process of Operant Conditioning.

5.        Go to Find something yourself on “Children and Media Violence.” What is your personal opinion on this issue? Why?


Class Discussion Topics:


1.     What role des habit play in your life? Do you consider yourself to have “good habits” and “bad habits”? How do you think these developed? How [if you choose to] would you go about altering these?

2.     What are the roles of generalization and discrimination in classical conditioning?

3.     What is the contribution of B.F. Skinner to learning psychology.

4.     What is the difference between Classical and Operant conditioning?

5.     What are the various kinds of reinforcement strategies?

6.     What do many psychologists disapprove of punishment?

7.     How do people learn by observing others?

8.     What happens when the model [or culture] is violent?