By Elizabeth Bradley

It's easy to forget the different ways humans learn and acquire information. There is so much more to the process than memorizing information, especially with children. It's all about the non-verbals and how repetition of an action can create a lasting habit.


Classical conditioning is the study of people’s automatic responses to a introduced stimulus. Conditioning is how someone learns a new behavior because of association.

People who researched classical conditioning studied how this occurred in people and animals. They studied everything from speech to emotional responses.

For example if a person who has a stomach virus, would feel nauseous and sick. This is a natural response, but the researchers wanted to use this idea to explain why something like perfume would create a feeling of happiness.

Pavlov studied this reaction in dogs and wanted to see if it would also apply to humans. In his Little Albert experiment, Pavlov showed Albert a white rat and every time Albert saw the white rat, he would hear a loud noise and cry. After many times of conditioning this response, when Pavlov presented the white rat, even without the sound, Albert would still cry.

Conditioning shows how humans can have behaviors that become automatic. For example, if a student is bullied at school he or she may associate school and their fear of bullying.

Behavior can become automatic through conditioning

Twins Closing Fridge Door - Pavlov's Theory Works!

Social Learning Theory

Social Learning Theory

So much of our lives are spent with others, how much of that time rubs off on us—how does it influence our patterns and behaviors? Through his research Bandura learned that humans acquire behaviors from their environments in a process called observational learning.

He preformed the Bobo Doll experiment to see how children reacted to violence and aggression based upon how much they had been previously exposed to. Bandar learned children encode behavior. They remember what they saw and in the future they may begin to emulate a behavior or mannerism.

Children who watch lots of violent television, or play violent video games, are more desensitized to violence. As they are exposed over and over again, the shock factor goes away and they think violence is no big deal.

Social Learning Theory

This theory explains how the human mind uses sensory information. In order for information to be included into long-term memory a person must experience something, rehearse it, and most importantly make sense of the memory or information. However, for something to be included in short-term memory; it doesn't require the information to be held in long-term memory.

Think of your brain as a computer. Every computer processes information, so does your brain. And in this computer of your brain it’s broken into three parts: sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory.

First an individual must observe something and because of their attention and engagement the information is brought into one’s short-term memory.

Through rehearsal and repetition the memory will stick in the short-term and be transferred to long-term memory. At this point an individual will make sense of the memory and basically analyze it. After it’s brought to long-term the memory can be accessed at any point through retrieval.

It’s important to note how much of a role repetition plays. With out rehearsal, a memory or information will be only kept in short term memory and quickly forgotten.

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