Learning Behavior Essay

This essay has a total of 730 words and 4 pages.

Learning Behavior

Learning Behavior
Psychologists have preformed many studies and proposed many theories regarding learning.
Learning can be defined as a relatively permanent change in behavior that is due to past

John B. Watson was an early psychologist that didn't agree with many other psychologist's
ideas about learning only relating to consciousness and thought processes. As the founder
of behaviorism, Watson studied learning in a behavioral perspective, an approach that
emphasizes the relationship between outwardly observable behaviors and environmental
events, rather than mental processes.

Classical conditioning is a process of learning associations between stimuli used by Ivan
Pavlov, a Russian physiologist. In classical conditioning, a stimulus causes an existing
behavior to occur. Pavlov used classical conditioning to study dog salivation. A ringing
bell was used as a neutral stimulus. During the conditioning the bell is repeatedly
sounded immediately before the food is placed in front of the dog producing the natural
reflex of salivation, which is an unconditioned response (unlearned reflexive response).
The result of the repeated ringing of the bell, placement of the food, and salivation of
the mouth was a conditioned reflex. The ringing bell then stimulated the conditioned
response of salivation.

B.F. Skinner, also a behaviorist, studied the effects of operant conditioning on behavior.
Operant conditioning is the basic learning process that involves changing the probability
of a response being repeated by manipulating the consequences of the response. Skinner
believed that classical conditioning was limited to behaviors that are reflexively
elicited. An operant describes behaviors that are "operate upon the environment to
generate consequences." Reinforcement follows an operant and increases the likelihood of
the operant being repeated.

There are two forms of reinforcement: positive and negative reinforcement. When an event
occurs producing a positive effect, it is considered positive reinforcement. Negative
reinforcement involves the removal of a stimulus increasing the likelihood of a positive
effect. An example of this would be to take two aspirins to remove the pain from a

Punishment is a process that decreases the likelihood of a behavior to occur again. This
is not to be confused with negative reinforcement because it doesn't increase the
likelihood of an occurrence. There are drawbacks to punishment. It doesn't teach an
appropriate behavior to replace an inappropriate one. Also, intense punishment can lead to
results such as passivity, fear, anxiety, or hostility. Finally, effects of punishment are
sometimes temporary.

An alternative to punishment is trying to change the behavior of others. First, stop
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