NCERT Textbook - Learning Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Psychology Class 11

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Learning Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


Chapter
6
Learning Learning
• describe the nature of learning,
• explain different forms or types of learning and the procedures used in
such types of learning,
• understand various psychological processes that occur during learning
and influence its course,
• explain the determinants of learning, and
• familiarise yourself with some applications of learning principles.
After reading this chapter, you would be able to
Introduction
Nature of Learning
Paradigms of Learning
Classical Conditioning
Determinants of Classical Conditioning
Operant/Instrumental Conditioning
Determinants of Operant Conditioning
Classical and Operant Conditioning : Differences (Box 6.1)
Key Learning Processes
Learned Helplessness (Box 6.2)
Observational Learning
Cognitive Learning
Verbal Learning
Concept Learning
Skill Learning
Transfer of Learning
Factors Facilitating Learning
The Learner : Learning Styles
Learning Disabilities
Applications of Learning Principles
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Contents
Learning preserves errors
of the past as well as its
wisdom.
– A.N. Whitehead
Page 2


Chapter
6
Learning Learning
• describe the nature of learning,
• explain different forms or types of learning and the procedures used in
such types of learning,
• understand various psychological processes that occur during learning
and influence its course,
• explain the determinants of learning, and
• familiarise yourself with some applications of learning principles.
After reading this chapter, you would be able to
Introduction
Nature of Learning
Paradigms of Learning
Classical Conditioning
Determinants of Classical Conditioning
Operant/Instrumental Conditioning
Determinants of Operant Conditioning
Classical and Operant Conditioning : Differences (Box 6.1)
Key Learning Processes
Learned Helplessness (Box 6.2)
Observational Learning
Cognitive Learning
Verbal Learning
Concept Learning
Skill Learning
Transfer of Learning
Factors Facilitating Learning
The Learner : Learning Styles
Learning Disabilities
Applications of Learning Principles
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Contents
Learning preserves errors
of the past as well as its
wisdom.
– A.N. Whitehead
Psychology
108
always involves some kinds of experience. We
experience an event occurring in a certain
sequence on a number of occasions. If an event
happens then it may be followed by certain
other events. For example, one learns that if
the bell rings in the hostel after sunset, then
dinner is ready to be served. Repeated
experience of satisfaction after doing
something in a specified manner leads to the
formation of habit. Sometimes a single
experience can lead to learning. A child strikes
a matchstick on the side of a matchbox, and
gets her/his fingers burnt. Such an experience
makes the child learn to be careful in handling
the matchbox in future.
Behavioural changes that occur due to
learning are relatively permanent. They must
be distinguished from the behavioural changes
that are neither permanent nor learned. For
NATURE OF LEARNING
As indicated above learning is a key process
in human behaviour. It refers to a spectrum
of changes that take place as a result of one’s
experience. Learning may be defined as “any
relatively permanent change in behaviour or
behavioural potential produced by experience”.
One must remember that some behavioural
changes occur due to the use of drugs, or
fatigue. Such changes are temporary. They are
not considered learning. Changes due to
practice and experience, which are relatively
permanent, are illustrative of learning.
Features of Learning
The process of learning has certain distinctive
characteristics. The first feature is that learning
At the time of birth every human baby is equipped with the capacity to make a
limited number of responses. These responses occur reflexively whenever
appropriate stimuli are present in the environment. As the child grows and
matures, s/he becomes capable of making diverse types of responses. These
include identifying the images of some persons as one’s mother, father or
grandfather, using a spoon when eating food, and learning how to identify
alphabets, to write, and to combine them into words. S/he also observes others
doing things in specific environmental conditions, and imitates them. Learning
names of objects such as book, orange, mango, cow, boy, and girl, and retaining
them is another important task. As one grows older , one observes many events or
objects, and learns their distinct features. Objects are categorised as ‘furniture’,
‘fruits’, and so on. One also learns to drive a scooter or a car , to communicate with
others effectively, and to interact with others. It is all due to learning that a person
becomes hard working or indolent, socially knowledgeable, skilled, and
professionally competent. Each individual manages her or his life and solves all
kinds of problems because of the capacity to learn and adapt. This chapter focuses
on the various aspects of learning. First, learning is defined and characterised as
a psychological process. Second, an account is presented that explains how one
learns. A number of learning methods that account for simple to complex types of
learning are described. In the third section, some empirical phenomena, that occur
in the course of learning, are explained. In the fourth section, different factors that
determine the speed and extent of learning are described including different
learning styles and learning disabilities.
Introduction
Page 3


Chapter
6
Learning Learning
• describe the nature of learning,
• explain different forms or types of learning and the procedures used in
such types of learning,
• understand various psychological processes that occur during learning
and influence its course,
• explain the determinants of learning, and
• familiarise yourself with some applications of learning principles.
After reading this chapter, you would be able to
Introduction
Nature of Learning
Paradigms of Learning
Classical Conditioning
Determinants of Classical Conditioning
Operant/Instrumental Conditioning
Determinants of Operant Conditioning
Classical and Operant Conditioning : Differences (Box 6.1)
Key Learning Processes
Learned Helplessness (Box 6.2)
Observational Learning
Cognitive Learning
Verbal Learning
Concept Learning
Skill Learning
Transfer of Learning
Factors Facilitating Learning
The Learner : Learning Styles
Learning Disabilities
Applications of Learning Principles
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Contents
Learning preserves errors
of the past as well as its
wisdom.
– A.N. Whitehead
Psychology
108
always involves some kinds of experience. We
experience an event occurring in a certain
sequence on a number of occasions. If an event
happens then it may be followed by certain
other events. For example, one learns that if
the bell rings in the hostel after sunset, then
dinner is ready to be served. Repeated
experience of satisfaction after doing
something in a specified manner leads to the
formation of habit. Sometimes a single
experience can lead to learning. A child strikes
a matchstick on the side of a matchbox, and
gets her/his fingers burnt. Such an experience
makes the child learn to be careful in handling
the matchbox in future.
Behavioural changes that occur due to
learning are relatively permanent. They must
be distinguished from the behavioural changes
that are neither permanent nor learned. For
NATURE OF LEARNING
As indicated above learning is a key process
in human behaviour. It refers to a spectrum
of changes that take place as a result of one’s
experience. Learning may be defined as “any
relatively permanent change in behaviour or
behavioural potential produced by experience”.
One must remember that some behavioural
changes occur due to the use of drugs, or
fatigue. Such changes are temporary. They are
not considered learning. Changes due to
practice and experience, which are relatively
permanent, are illustrative of learning.
Features of Learning
The process of learning has certain distinctive
characteristics. The first feature is that learning
At the time of birth every human baby is equipped with the capacity to make a
limited number of responses. These responses occur reflexively whenever
appropriate stimuli are present in the environment. As the child grows and
matures, s/he becomes capable of making diverse types of responses. These
include identifying the images of some persons as one’s mother, father or
grandfather, using a spoon when eating food, and learning how to identify
alphabets, to write, and to combine them into words. S/he also observes others
doing things in specific environmental conditions, and imitates them. Learning
names of objects such as book, orange, mango, cow, boy, and girl, and retaining
them is another important task. As one grows older , one observes many events or
objects, and learns their distinct features. Objects are categorised as ‘furniture’,
‘fruits’, and so on. One also learns to drive a scooter or a car , to communicate with
others effectively, and to interact with others. It is all due to learning that a person
becomes hard working or indolent, socially knowledgeable, skilled, and
professionally competent. Each individual manages her or his life and solves all
kinds of problems because of the capacity to learn and adapt. This chapter focuses
on the various aspects of learning. First, learning is defined and characterised as
a psychological process. Second, an account is presented that explains how one
learns. A number of learning methods that account for simple to complex types of
learning are described. In the third section, some empirical phenomena, that occur
in the course of learning, are explained. In the fourth section, different factors that
determine the speed and extent of learning are described including different
learning styles and learning disabilities.
Introduction
Chapter 6 • Learning
109
example, changes in behaviour often occur
due to the effects of fatigue, habituation, and
drugs. Suppose you are reading your textbook
of psychology for sometime or you are trying
to learn how to drive a motor car, a time comes
when you will feel tired. You stop reading or
driving. This is a behavioural change due to
fatigue, and is temporary. It is not considered
learning.
Let us take another case of change in one’s
behaviour. Suppose in the vicinity of your
residence a marriage is being performed. It
generates a lot of noise, which continues till
late night. In the beginning, the noise distracts
you from whatever you are doing. You feel
disturbed. While the noise continues, you
make some orienting reflexes. These reflexes
become weaker and weaker, and eventually
become undetectable. This is also one kind of
behavioural change. This change is due to
continuous exposure to stimuli. It is called
habituation. It is not due to learning. You must
have noticed that people who are on sedatives
or drugs or alcohol, their behaviour changes
as it affects physiological functions. Such
changes are temporary in nature and
disappear, as the effect wears out.
Learning involves a sequence of
psychological events. This will become clear if
we were to describe a typical learning
experiment. Suppose psychologists are
interested in understanding how a list of words
is learned. They will go through the following
sequence : (i) do a pre-test to know how much
the person knows before learning, (ii) present
the list of words to be remembered for a fixed
time, (iii) during this time the list of words is
processed towards acquiring new knowledge,
(iv) after processing is complete, new
knowledge is acquired (this is LEARNING), and
(v) after some time elapses, the processed
information is recalled by the person. By
comparing the number of words which a
person now knows as compared to what s/he
knew in the pre-test, one infers that learning
did take place.
Thus, learning is an inferred process and
is different from performance. Performance
is a person’s observed behaviour or response
or action. Let us understand what is meant
by the term inference. Suppose you are asked
by your teacher to memorise a poem. You read
that poem a number of times. Then you say
that you have learned the poem. You are asked
to recite the poem and you are able to recite
it. The recitation of the poem by you is your
performance. On the basis of your
performance, the teacher infers that you have
learned the poem.
PARADIGMS OF LEARNING
Learning takes place in many ways. There are
some methods that are used in acquisition of
simple responses while other methods are
used in the acquisition of complex responses.
In this section you will learn about all these
methods. The simplest kind of learning is
called conditioning. Two types of conditioning
have been identified. The first one is called
classical conditioning, and the second
instrumental/operant conditioning. In
addition, we have observational learning,
cognitive learning, verbal learning, concept
learning, and skill learning.
CLASSICAL CONDITIONING
This type of learning was first investigated by
Ivan P. Pavlov. He was primarily interested in
the physiology of digestion. During his studies
he noticed that dogs, on whom he was doing
his experiments, started secreting saliva as
soon as they saw the empty plate in which
food was served. As you must be aware, saliva
secretion is a reflexive response to food or
something in the mouth. Pavlov designed an
experiment to understand this process in detail
in which dogs were used once again. In the
first phase, a dog was placed in a box and
harnessed. The dog was left in the box for some
time. This was repeated a number of times on
different days. In the meantime, a simple
surgery was conducted, and one end of a tube
was   inserted in the dog’s jaw and the other end
of the tube was put in a measuring glass. The
experimental setup is illustrated in Figure 6.1.
Page 4


Chapter
6
Learning Learning
• describe the nature of learning,
• explain different forms or types of learning and the procedures used in
such types of learning,
• understand various psychological processes that occur during learning
and influence its course,
• explain the determinants of learning, and
• familiarise yourself with some applications of learning principles.
After reading this chapter, you would be able to
Introduction
Nature of Learning
Paradigms of Learning
Classical Conditioning
Determinants of Classical Conditioning
Operant/Instrumental Conditioning
Determinants of Operant Conditioning
Classical and Operant Conditioning : Differences (Box 6.1)
Key Learning Processes
Learned Helplessness (Box 6.2)
Observational Learning
Cognitive Learning
Verbal Learning
Concept Learning
Skill Learning
Transfer of Learning
Factors Facilitating Learning
The Learner : Learning Styles
Learning Disabilities
Applications of Learning Principles
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Contents
Learning preserves errors
of the past as well as its
wisdom.
– A.N. Whitehead
Psychology
108
always involves some kinds of experience. We
experience an event occurring in a certain
sequence on a number of occasions. If an event
happens then it may be followed by certain
other events. For example, one learns that if
the bell rings in the hostel after sunset, then
dinner is ready to be served. Repeated
experience of satisfaction after doing
something in a specified manner leads to the
formation of habit. Sometimes a single
experience can lead to learning. A child strikes
a matchstick on the side of a matchbox, and
gets her/his fingers burnt. Such an experience
makes the child learn to be careful in handling
the matchbox in future.
Behavioural changes that occur due to
learning are relatively permanent. They must
be distinguished from the behavioural changes
that are neither permanent nor learned. For
NATURE OF LEARNING
As indicated above learning is a key process
in human behaviour. It refers to a spectrum
of changes that take place as a result of one’s
experience. Learning may be defined as “any
relatively permanent change in behaviour or
behavioural potential produced by experience”.
One must remember that some behavioural
changes occur due to the use of drugs, or
fatigue. Such changes are temporary. They are
not considered learning. Changes due to
practice and experience, which are relatively
permanent, are illustrative of learning.
Features of Learning
The process of learning has certain distinctive
characteristics. The first feature is that learning
At the time of birth every human baby is equipped with the capacity to make a
limited number of responses. These responses occur reflexively whenever
appropriate stimuli are present in the environment. As the child grows and
matures, s/he becomes capable of making diverse types of responses. These
include identifying the images of some persons as one’s mother, father or
grandfather, using a spoon when eating food, and learning how to identify
alphabets, to write, and to combine them into words. S/he also observes others
doing things in specific environmental conditions, and imitates them. Learning
names of objects such as book, orange, mango, cow, boy, and girl, and retaining
them is another important task. As one grows older , one observes many events or
objects, and learns their distinct features. Objects are categorised as ‘furniture’,
‘fruits’, and so on. One also learns to drive a scooter or a car , to communicate with
others effectively, and to interact with others. It is all due to learning that a person
becomes hard working or indolent, socially knowledgeable, skilled, and
professionally competent. Each individual manages her or his life and solves all
kinds of problems because of the capacity to learn and adapt. This chapter focuses
on the various aspects of learning. First, learning is defined and characterised as
a psychological process. Second, an account is presented that explains how one
learns. A number of learning methods that account for simple to complex types of
learning are described. In the third section, some empirical phenomena, that occur
in the course of learning, are explained. In the fourth section, different factors that
determine the speed and extent of learning are described including different
learning styles and learning disabilities.
Introduction
Chapter 6 • Learning
109
example, changes in behaviour often occur
due to the effects of fatigue, habituation, and
drugs. Suppose you are reading your textbook
of psychology for sometime or you are trying
to learn how to drive a motor car, a time comes
when you will feel tired. You stop reading or
driving. This is a behavioural change due to
fatigue, and is temporary. It is not considered
learning.
Let us take another case of change in one’s
behaviour. Suppose in the vicinity of your
residence a marriage is being performed. It
generates a lot of noise, which continues till
late night. In the beginning, the noise distracts
you from whatever you are doing. You feel
disturbed. While the noise continues, you
make some orienting reflexes. These reflexes
become weaker and weaker, and eventually
become undetectable. This is also one kind of
behavioural change. This change is due to
continuous exposure to stimuli. It is called
habituation. It is not due to learning. You must
have noticed that people who are on sedatives
or drugs or alcohol, their behaviour changes
as it affects physiological functions. Such
changes are temporary in nature and
disappear, as the effect wears out.
Learning involves a sequence of
psychological events. This will become clear if
we were to describe a typical learning
experiment. Suppose psychologists are
interested in understanding how a list of words
is learned. They will go through the following
sequence : (i) do a pre-test to know how much
the person knows before learning, (ii) present
the list of words to be remembered for a fixed
time, (iii) during this time the list of words is
processed towards acquiring new knowledge,
(iv) after processing is complete, new
knowledge is acquired (this is LEARNING), and
(v) after some time elapses, the processed
information is recalled by the person. By
comparing the number of words which a
person now knows as compared to what s/he
knew in the pre-test, one infers that learning
did take place.
Thus, learning is an inferred process and
is different from performance. Performance
is a person’s observed behaviour or response
or action. Let us understand what is meant
by the term inference. Suppose you are asked
by your teacher to memorise a poem. You read
that poem a number of times. Then you say
that you have learned the poem. You are asked
to recite the poem and you are able to recite
it. The recitation of the poem by you is your
performance. On the basis of your
performance, the teacher infers that you have
learned the poem.
PARADIGMS OF LEARNING
Learning takes place in many ways. There are
some methods that are used in acquisition of
simple responses while other methods are
used in the acquisition of complex responses.
In this section you will learn about all these
methods. The simplest kind of learning is
called conditioning. Two types of conditioning
have been identified. The first one is called
classical conditioning, and the second
instrumental/operant conditioning. In
addition, we have observational learning,
cognitive learning, verbal learning, concept
learning, and skill learning.
CLASSICAL CONDITIONING
This type of learning was first investigated by
Ivan P. Pavlov. He was primarily interested in
the physiology of digestion. During his studies
he noticed that dogs, on whom he was doing
his experiments, started secreting saliva as
soon as they saw the empty plate in which
food was served. As you must be aware, saliva
secretion is a reflexive response to food or
something in the mouth. Pavlov designed an
experiment to understand this process in detail
in which dogs were used once again. In the
first phase, a dog was placed in a box and
harnessed. The dog was left in the box for some
time. This was repeated a number of times on
different days. In the meantime, a simple
surgery was conducted, and one end of a tube
was   inserted in the dog’s jaw and the other end
of the tube was put in a measuring glass. The
experimental setup is illustrated in Figure 6.1.
Psychology
110
In the second phase of the experiment, the
dog was kept hungry and placed in harness
with one end of the tube ending in the jaw
and the other end in the glass jar. A bell was
Unconditioned Stimulus (US) and salivation
which follows it, an Unconditioned Response
(UR). After conditioning, salivation started to
occur in the presence of the sound of the bell.
The bell becomes a Conditioned Stimulus
(CS) and saliva secretion a Conditioned
Response (CR). This kind of conditioning is
called classical conditioning. The procedure
is illustrated in Table 6.1. It is obvious that
the learning situation in classical conditioning
is one of S–S learning in which one stimulus
(e.g., sound of bell) becomes a signal for
another stimulus (e.g., food). Here one stimulus
signifies the possible occurrence of another
stimulus.
Examples of classical conditioning abound
in everyday life. Imagine you have just finished
your lunch and you are feeling satisfied. Then
you see some sweet dish served on the
adjoining table. This signals its taste in your
mouth, and triggers the secretion of saliva. You
feel like eating it. This is a conditioned response
(CR). Let us take another example. In the early
stages of childhood, one is naturally afraid of
any loud noise. Suppose a small child catches
an inflated balloon which bursts in her/his
hands making a loud noise. The child becomes
afraid. Now the next time s/he is made to hold
a balloon, it becomes a signal or cue for noise
and elicits fear response. This happens because
of contiguous presentation of balloon as a
conditioned stimulus (CS) and loud noise as
an unconditioned stimulus (US).
Determinants of Classical Conditioning
How quickly and strongly acquisition of a
response occurs in classical conditioning
depends on several factors. Some of the major
Stages of Nature of Stimulus Nature of Response
Conditioning
Before Food (US) Salivation (UR)
Sound of the Bell Alertness (No Specific Response)
During Sound of the Bell (CS) + Food (US) Salivation (UR)
After Sound of the Bell (CS) Salivation (CR)
T T T T Table able able able able 6.1 Relationship of Stages of Conditioning and Operations Relationship of Stages of Conditioning and Operations Relationship of Stages of Conditioning and Operations Relationship of Stages of Conditioning and Operations Relationship of Stages of Conditioning and Operations
sounded and immediately thereafter food (meat
powder) was served to the dog. The dog was
allowed to eat it. For the next few days,
everytime the meat powder was presented, it
was preceded by the sound of a bell. After a
number of such trials, a test trial was
introduced in which everything was the same
as the previous trials except that no food
followed the sounding of the bell. The dog still
salivated to the sound of the bell, expecting
presentation of the meat powder as the sound
of bell had come to be connected with it. This
association between the bell and food resulted
in acquisition of a new response by the dog,
i.e. salivation to the sound of the bell. This has
been termed as conditioning. You may have
noticed that all dogs salivate when they are
presented with food. Food is thus an
Fig.6.1 : A Dog in Pavlovian Harness for Conditioning
One-way
glass wall
Tube from
salivary glands
Cup for
measuring saliva
Recording
device
Food
Page 5


Chapter
6
Learning Learning
• describe the nature of learning,
• explain different forms or types of learning and the procedures used in
such types of learning,
• understand various psychological processes that occur during learning
and influence its course,
• explain the determinants of learning, and
• familiarise yourself with some applications of learning principles.
After reading this chapter, you would be able to
Introduction
Nature of Learning
Paradigms of Learning
Classical Conditioning
Determinants of Classical Conditioning
Operant/Instrumental Conditioning
Determinants of Operant Conditioning
Classical and Operant Conditioning : Differences (Box 6.1)
Key Learning Processes
Learned Helplessness (Box 6.2)
Observational Learning
Cognitive Learning
Verbal Learning
Concept Learning
Skill Learning
Transfer of Learning
Factors Facilitating Learning
The Learner : Learning Styles
Learning Disabilities
Applications of Learning Principles
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Contents
Learning preserves errors
of the past as well as its
wisdom.
– A.N. Whitehead
Psychology
108
always involves some kinds of experience. We
experience an event occurring in a certain
sequence on a number of occasions. If an event
happens then it may be followed by certain
other events. For example, one learns that if
the bell rings in the hostel after sunset, then
dinner is ready to be served. Repeated
experience of satisfaction after doing
something in a specified manner leads to the
formation of habit. Sometimes a single
experience can lead to learning. A child strikes
a matchstick on the side of a matchbox, and
gets her/his fingers burnt. Such an experience
makes the child learn to be careful in handling
the matchbox in future.
Behavioural changes that occur due to
learning are relatively permanent. They must
be distinguished from the behavioural changes
that are neither permanent nor learned. For
NATURE OF LEARNING
As indicated above learning is a key process
in human behaviour. It refers to a spectrum
of changes that take place as a result of one’s
experience. Learning may be defined as “any
relatively permanent change in behaviour or
behavioural potential produced by experience”.
One must remember that some behavioural
changes occur due to the use of drugs, or
fatigue. Such changes are temporary. They are
not considered learning. Changes due to
practice and experience, which are relatively
permanent, are illustrative of learning.
Features of Learning
The process of learning has certain distinctive
characteristics. The first feature is that learning
At the time of birth every human baby is equipped with the capacity to make a
limited number of responses. These responses occur reflexively whenever
appropriate stimuli are present in the environment. As the child grows and
matures, s/he becomes capable of making diverse types of responses. These
include identifying the images of some persons as one’s mother, father or
grandfather, using a spoon when eating food, and learning how to identify
alphabets, to write, and to combine them into words. S/he also observes others
doing things in specific environmental conditions, and imitates them. Learning
names of objects such as book, orange, mango, cow, boy, and girl, and retaining
them is another important task. As one grows older , one observes many events or
objects, and learns their distinct features. Objects are categorised as ‘furniture’,
‘fruits’, and so on. One also learns to drive a scooter or a car , to communicate with
others effectively, and to interact with others. It is all due to learning that a person
becomes hard working or indolent, socially knowledgeable, skilled, and
professionally competent. Each individual manages her or his life and solves all
kinds of problems because of the capacity to learn and adapt. This chapter focuses
on the various aspects of learning. First, learning is defined and characterised as
a psychological process. Second, an account is presented that explains how one
learns. A number of learning methods that account for simple to complex types of
learning are described. In the third section, some empirical phenomena, that occur
in the course of learning, are explained. In the fourth section, different factors that
determine the speed and extent of learning are described including different
learning styles and learning disabilities.
Introduction
Chapter 6 • Learning
109
example, changes in behaviour often occur
due to the effects of fatigue, habituation, and
drugs. Suppose you are reading your textbook
of psychology for sometime or you are trying
to learn how to drive a motor car, a time comes
when you will feel tired. You stop reading or
driving. This is a behavioural change due to
fatigue, and is temporary. It is not considered
learning.
Let us take another case of change in one’s
behaviour. Suppose in the vicinity of your
residence a marriage is being performed. It
generates a lot of noise, which continues till
late night. In the beginning, the noise distracts
you from whatever you are doing. You feel
disturbed. While the noise continues, you
make some orienting reflexes. These reflexes
become weaker and weaker, and eventually
become undetectable. This is also one kind of
behavioural change. This change is due to
continuous exposure to stimuli. It is called
habituation. It is not due to learning. You must
have noticed that people who are on sedatives
or drugs or alcohol, their behaviour changes
as it affects physiological functions. Such
changes are temporary in nature and
disappear, as the effect wears out.
Learning involves a sequence of
psychological events. This will become clear if
we were to describe a typical learning
experiment. Suppose psychologists are
interested in understanding how a list of words
is learned. They will go through the following
sequence : (i) do a pre-test to know how much
the person knows before learning, (ii) present
the list of words to be remembered for a fixed
time, (iii) during this time the list of words is
processed towards acquiring new knowledge,
(iv) after processing is complete, new
knowledge is acquired (this is LEARNING), and
(v) after some time elapses, the processed
information is recalled by the person. By
comparing the number of words which a
person now knows as compared to what s/he
knew in the pre-test, one infers that learning
did take place.
Thus, learning is an inferred process and
is different from performance. Performance
is a person’s observed behaviour or response
or action. Let us understand what is meant
by the term inference. Suppose you are asked
by your teacher to memorise a poem. You read
that poem a number of times. Then you say
that you have learned the poem. You are asked
to recite the poem and you are able to recite
it. The recitation of the poem by you is your
performance. On the basis of your
performance, the teacher infers that you have
learned the poem.
PARADIGMS OF LEARNING
Learning takes place in many ways. There are
some methods that are used in acquisition of
simple responses while other methods are
used in the acquisition of complex responses.
In this section you will learn about all these
methods. The simplest kind of learning is
called conditioning. Two types of conditioning
have been identified. The first one is called
classical conditioning, and the second
instrumental/operant conditioning. In
addition, we have observational learning,
cognitive learning, verbal learning, concept
learning, and skill learning.
CLASSICAL CONDITIONING
This type of learning was first investigated by
Ivan P. Pavlov. He was primarily interested in
the physiology of digestion. During his studies
he noticed that dogs, on whom he was doing
his experiments, started secreting saliva as
soon as they saw the empty plate in which
food was served. As you must be aware, saliva
secretion is a reflexive response to food or
something in the mouth. Pavlov designed an
experiment to understand this process in detail
in which dogs were used once again. In the
first phase, a dog was placed in a box and
harnessed. The dog was left in the box for some
time. This was repeated a number of times on
different days. In the meantime, a simple
surgery was conducted, and one end of a tube
was   inserted in the dog’s jaw and the other end
of the tube was put in a measuring glass. The
experimental setup is illustrated in Figure 6.1.
Psychology
110
In the second phase of the experiment, the
dog was kept hungry and placed in harness
with one end of the tube ending in the jaw
and the other end in the glass jar. A bell was
Unconditioned Stimulus (US) and salivation
which follows it, an Unconditioned Response
(UR). After conditioning, salivation started to
occur in the presence of the sound of the bell.
The bell becomes a Conditioned Stimulus
(CS) and saliva secretion a Conditioned
Response (CR). This kind of conditioning is
called classical conditioning. The procedure
is illustrated in Table 6.1. It is obvious that
the learning situation in classical conditioning
is one of S–S learning in which one stimulus
(e.g., sound of bell) becomes a signal for
another stimulus (e.g., food). Here one stimulus
signifies the possible occurrence of another
stimulus.
Examples of classical conditioning abound
in everyday life. Imagine you have just finished
your lunch and you are feeling satisfied. Then
you see some sweet dish served on the
adjoining table. This signals its taste in your
mouth, and triggers the secretion of saliva. You
feel like eating it. This is a conditioned response
(CR). Let us take another example. In the early
stages of childhood, one is naturally afraid of
any loud noise. Suppose a small child catches
an inflated balloon which bursts in her/his
hands making a loud noise. The child becomes
afraid. Now the next time s/he is made to hold
a balloon, it becomes a signal or cue for noise
and elicits fear response. This happens because
of contiguous presentation of balloon as a
conditioned stimulus (CS) and loud noise as
an unconditioned stimulus (US).
Determinants of Classical Conditioning
How quickly and strongly acquisition of a
response occurs in classical conditioning
depends on several factors. Some of the major
Stages of Nature of Stimulus Nature of Response
Conditioning
Before Food (US) Salivation (UR)
Sound of the Bell Alertness (No Specific Response)
During Sound of the Bell (CS) + Food (US) Salivation (UR)
After Sound of the Bell (CS) Salivation (CR)
T T T T Table able able able able 6.1 Relationship of Stages of Conditioning and Operations Relationship of Stages of Conditioning and Operations Relationship of Stages of Conditioning and Operations Relationship of Stages of Conditioning and Operations Relationship of Stages of Conditioning and Operations
sounded and immediately thereafter food (meat
powder) was served to the dog. The dog was
allowed to eat it. For the next few days,
everytime the meat powder was presented, it
was preceded by the sound of a bell. After a
number of such trials, a test trial was
introduced in which everything was the same
as the previous trials except that no food
followed the sounding of the bell. The dog still
salivated to the sound of the bell, expecting
presentation of the meat powder as the sound
of bell had come to be connected with it. This
association between the bell and food resulted
in acquisition of a new response by the dog,
i.e. salivation to the sound of the bell. This has
been termed as conditioning. You may have
noticed that all dogs salivate when they are
presented with food. Food is thus an
Fig.6.1 : A Dog in Pavlovian Harness for Conditioning
One-way
glass wall
Tube from
salivary glands
Cup for
measuring saliva
Recording
device
Food
Chapter 6 • Learning
111
3. Intensity of Conditioned Stimuli : This
influences the course of both appetitive and
aversive classical conditioning. More intense
conditioned stimuli are more effective in
accelerating the acquisition of conditioned
responses. It means that the more intense the
conditioned stimulus, the fewer are the
number of acquisition trials needed for
conditioning.
In order to understand and explain conditioning,
you may carry out the following exercise. Take
a few pieces of mango pickle on a plate and
show it to the students in the classroom. Ask
them what they experienced in their mouth?
Most of your classmates are likely to report
some salivation in their mouth.
Activity Activity Activity Activity Activity     6.1
factors influencing learning a CR are described
below:
1. Time Relations between Stimuli : The
classical conditioning procedures, discussed
below, are basically of four types based on the
time relations between the onset of conditioned
stimulus (CS) and unconditioned stimulus
(US). The first three are called forward
conditioning procedures, and the fourth one
is called backward conditioning procedure.
The basic experimental arrangements of these
procedures are as follows:
a) When the CS and US are presented
together, it is called simultaneous
conditioning.
b) In delayed conditioning, the onset of
CS precedes the onset of US. The CS
ends before the end of the US.
c) In trace conditioning, the onset and
end of the CS precedes the onset of US
with some time gap between the two.
d) In backward conditioning, the US
precedes the onset of CS.
It is now well established that delayed
conditioning procedure is the most effective
way of acquiring a CR. Simultaneous and trace
conditioning procedures do lead to acquisition
of a CR, but they require greater number of
acquisition trials in comparison to the delayed
conditioning procedure. It may be noted that
the acquisition of response under backward
conditioning procedure is very rare.
2. Type of Unconditioned Stimuli : The
unconditioned stimuli used in studies of
classical conditioning are basically of two
types, i.e. appetitive and aversive. Appetitive
unconditioned stimuli automatically elicits
approach responses, such as eating, drinking,
caressing, etc. These responses give
satisfaction and pleasure. On the other hand,
aversive US, such as noise, bitter taste, electric
shock, painful injections, etc. are painful,
harmful, and elicit avoidance and escape
responses. It has been found that appetitive
classical conditioning is slower and requires
greater number of acquisition trials, but
aversive classical conditioning is established
in one, two or three trials depending on the
intensity of the aversive US.
OPERANT/INSTRUMENTAL CONDITIONING
This type of conditioning was first investigated
by B.F. Skinner. Skinner studied occurrence
of voluntary responses when an organism
operates on the environment. He called them
operants. Operants are those behaviours or
responses, which are emitted by animals and
human beings voluntarily and are under their
control. The term operant is used because the
organism operates on the environment.
Conditioning of operant behaviour is called
operant conditioning.
Skinner conducted his studies on rats and
pigeons in specially made boxes, called the
Skinner Box. A hungry rat (one at a time) is
placed in the chamber, which was so built that
the rat could move inside but could not come
out. In the chamber there was a lever, which
was connected to a food container kept on the
top of the chamber (see Figure 6.2). When the
lever is pressed, a food pellet drops on the
plate placed close to the lever. While moving
around and pawing the walls (exploratory
behaviour), the hungry rat accidentally presses
the lever and a food pellet drops on the plate.
The hungry rat eats it. In the next trial, after
a while the exploratory behaviour again starts.
As the number of trials increases, the rat takes
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