Psychology Key Terms (Chapter 6)

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  1. Learning
    a systematic, relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs through experience.
  2. Behaviorism
    a theory of learning that focuses solely on observable behaviors, discounting the importance of such mental activity as thinking, wishing, and hoping.
  3. Associative learning
    learning that occurs when we make a connection, or an association, between two events.
  4. Observational learning
    learning that occurs when a person observes and imitates another’s behavior.
  5. Classical conditioning
    learning process in which a neutral stimulus becomes associated with a meaningful stimulus and acquires the capacity to elicit a similar response.
  6. Unconditioned stimulus (UCS)
    a stimulus that produces a response without prior learning.
  7. Unconditioned response (UCR)
    an unlearned reaction that is automatically elicited by the unconditioned stimulus.
  8. Conditioned stimulus (CS)
    a previously neutral stimulus that eventually elicits a conditioned response after being paired with the unconditioned stimulus.
  9. Conditioned response (CR)
    the learned response to the conditioned stimulus that occurs after conditioned stimulus-unconditioned stimulus pairing.
  10. Acquisition
    the initial learning of the connection between the unconditioned stimulus and the conditioned stimulus when these two stimuli are paired.
  11. Generalization (in classical conditioning)
    the tendency of a new stimulus that is similar to the original conditioned stimulus to elicit a response that is similar to the conditioned response.
  12. Discrimination (in classical conditioning)
    the process of learning to respond to certain stimuli and not others.
  13. Extinction (in classical conditioning)
    the weakening of the conditioned response when the unconditioned stimulus is absent.
  14. Spontaneous recovery
    the process in classical conditioning by which a conditioned response can recur after a time delay, without further conditioning.
  15. Renewal
    the recovery of the conditioned response when the organism is placed in novel context.
  16. Counterconditioning
    a classical conditioning procedure for changing the relationship between a conditioned stimulus and its conditioned response.
  17. Aversive conditioning
    a form of treatment that consists of repeated pairings of a stimulus with a very unpleasant stimulus.
  18. Operant conditioning
    also called instrumental conditioning, a form of associative learning in which the consequences of a behavior change the probability of the behavior’s occurrence.
  19. Law of effect
    Thorndike’s law stating that behaviors followed by positives outcomes are strengthened and that behaviors followed by negative outcomes are weakened.
  20. Shaping
    Rewarding approximations of a desired behavior.
  21. Reinforcement
    the process by which a rewarding stimulus or event (a reinforcer) following a particular behavior increases the probability that the behavior will happen again.
  22. Positive reinforcement
    an increase in the frequency of a behavior in response to the subsequent presentation of something that is good.
  23. Negative reinforcement
    an increase in the frequency of a behavior in response to the subsequent removal of something that is unpleasant.
  24. Avoidance learning
    an organism’s learning that it can altogether avoid a negative stimulus by making a particular response.
  25. Learned helplessness
    an organism’s learning through experience with unavoidable negative stimuli that it has no control over negative outcomes.
  26. Primary reinforcer
    a reinforcer that is innately satisfying; one that does not take any learning on the organism’s part to make it pleasurable.
  27. Secondary reinforcer
    a reinforcer that acquires its positive value through an organism’s experience; a secondary reinforcer is a learned or conditioned reinforcer.
  28. Generalization (in operant conditioning)
    performing a reinforced behavior in a different situation.
  29. Discrimination (in operant conditioning)
    responding appropriately to stimuli that signal that a behavior will or will not be reinforced.
  30. Extinction (in operant conditioning)
    decreases in the frequency of a behavior when the behavior is no longer reinforced.
  31. Schedules of reinforcement
    specific patterns that determine when a behavior will be reinforced.
  32. Punishment
    a consequence that decreases the likelihood that a behavior will occur.
  33. Positive punishment
    the presentation of an unpleasant stimulus following a given behavior in order to decrease the frequency of that behavior.
  34. Negative punishment
    the removal of a positive stimulus following a given behavior in order to decrease the frequency of that behavior.
  35. Applied behavior analysis
    also called behavior modification, the use of operant conditioning principles to change human behavior.
  36. Latent learning
    also called implicit learning, unreinforced learning that is not immediately reflected in behavior.
  37. Insight learning
    a form of problem solving in which the organism develops a sudden insight into or understanding of a problem’s solution.
  38. Instinctive drift
    the tendency of animals to revert to instinctive behavior that interferes with learning.
  39. Preparedness
    the species-specific biological predisposition to learn in certain ways but not others.
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Psychology Key Terms (Chapter 6)
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