Human Learning

Conditioning, Social Learning & Info Processing Theory


Classical Conditioning

Focuses on the learning of involuntary emotional or physiological responses such as fear, increased muscle tension, salivation, or sweating.

What are those involuntary emotions called?

Respondents, because they are automatic responses to stimuli.

The process of classical conditioning

Humans and animals can be trained to react involuntarily to a stimulus that previously had no effect - or a very different effect on them.

Who discovered classical conditioning?

Ivan Pavlov in the 1920s who was a Russian physiologist who was trying to determine how long it took a dog to salivate after it had been fed.

What is a stimulus?

Stimulus that evokes an emotional or physiological response after conditioning.

(Anita Woolfolk 254)


When I have lots on my schedule and I forget to eat breakfast and lunch I tend to get a little frustrated. Then when I have a break I think about what I am going to get to eat and while I am in the car on the way to whichever restaurant I start to salivate before I even get my food.

Operant conditioning

Learning in which voluntary behavior is strengthened or weakened by consequences or antecedents.

Who discovered it?

B. F. Skinner

Here is a video of operant conditioning...

The Big Bang Theory - Sheldon Trains Penny

Social Learning Theory

Social Learning Theory

Theory that emphasizes learning through observation of others.

What is it?

Out interpretations of the consequences create expectations, influence motivation, and shape beliefs (Schunk,2012)

Also called

Observation learning

Who discovered this?

Albert Bandura, suggested that we all may know more than we know.


Bandura did an experiment of pre school children watching a film of a model kicking and punching an inflatable "Bobo" doll. And then placing the children in a room with the "Bobo" doll to see their reaction.

Watching the film

Group 1 - saw the model rewarded for the aggression

Group 2 - saw the model punished

Group 3 - observed no consequences

Post watching the film

Group 1 - most aggressive

Group 2 - least aggressive

Group 3 - all of them demonstrated that they had learned the behavior (Woolfolk 278,279)

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Bandura - bobo doll experiment

Information Processing Theory

Information Processing Theory

The human mind's activity of taking in, storing, and using information.

Focuses on

Internal mental process that occur as opposed to external behaviors

How does it work?

The mind takes information, performs operations to change its form, stores it, and retrieves it when needed.

3 major Categories

Sensory memory - It is the power to retain impressions of sensory information after the original stimuli have ended.

Working on (short-term) memory - Is like a note pad of notes, for temporarily recall of information which is be processed at any point and time

Long term memory - Information that is retained for a long period of time

Who discovered it?

Ashcraft and Radvansky and Sternberg and Sternberg (Woolfolk, 292,293)

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