Saturday, January 28, 2012

Basic Principles of Learning

Definition of Learning

In psychology the term learning refers to any relatively permanent change in behavior brought about through experience – that is, through interactions with the environment.

Classical Conditioning; Learning by Association

Classical conditioning changes reflex behavior that would occur only in response to specific stimuli- like salivation to the presence of food to events which are occurring repeatedly before the stimuli event. The general example cited is that of a dog which is given food after a bell is sounded. Hence after few repetitions, the sound of the bell makes the dog salivate in expectation of the food.

Association: the key Element in Classical Conditioning

Operant conditioning: Learning from the consequences of behavior

We call learning from the consequences of behavior, operant conditioning.

Thorndyke formulated the law of effect which states that the consequence of a response determines whether the response will be performed in the future.

Positive Reinforcement
In positive reinforcement, the consequences of a behavior are positive, so the behavior is engaged in more frequently.

Observational learning

We cannot explain the acquisition of all things (learning) through classical and operant conditioning. Other learning models are proposed in psychology.
One way of acquiring knowledge that has been widely studied is learning through observation (or learning through modeling or learning by imitation). Closely akin to observation learnng is learning by receiving instructions from someone else (teacher) and reading textbook. The cognitive psychologists would say that in our information processing we have the benefit not only of the knowledge stored in our own memories but, through language, of all the knowledge possessed by our fellow human beings and indeed the wisdom of the ages recorded in our libraries (Kaman and Segal, 1992) .


Jerome Kagan and Julius Segal (1992), Psychology: An Introduction, 7th Edition, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Fort Worth, USA.

Web References


No evidence for differences in learning
Dan Williangham and Doug Rohrer


Psychology - Related Knols

Psychology Article Series (KVSSNRao) - Directory
Psychology: An Introduction by Benjamin Lahey - Book Information and Review
Kagan and Segal's Psychology: An Introduction (with InfoTrac®) - Book Information and Review
Introduction to Psychology



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