Learning Unit Study Guide

AP Psychology
Big Question: What is learning? What type of learning is most important and/or
Learning Objectives:
Discuss the nature and importance of learning and describe how behaviorism approached
the study of learning.
Describe the general process of classical conditioning.
Explain the process of acquisition, extinction, spontaneous recovery, generalization, and
Discuss the biological and cognitive constraints on different types of learning.
Describe the process of operant conditioning, including the process of shaping.
Identify the different types of reinforcers and describe the schedules of partial reinforcement.
Discuss the effects of punishment on behavior.
Describe the process of observational learning and discuss the effects of antisocial and
prosocial modeling.
Learning Overview
“No topic is closer to the heart of psychology than learning, a relatively permanent change in an
organism’s behavior due to experience.” The Learning chapter covers the basic principles of three forms
of learning: classical, or respondent conditioning, in which we learn associations between events;
operant conditioning, in which we learn to engage in behaviors that are rewarded and to avoid
behaviors that are punished; and observational learning, in which we learn by observing and imitating
The chapter also covers several important issues, including the generality of principles of
learning, the role of cognitive process in learning, and the ways in which learning is constrained by the
biological predispositions of different species.
Learning Chapter Study Guide
Complete the following study guide as you read the assigned pages for class and listen to class
lectures/discussions. All answers MUST be in COMPLETE SENTENCES. Do NOT copy word-for-word from the book.
Answer in your OWN WORDS.
1. You adopt a baby kitten from a nearby farm. On the day you take the kitten home, she has
never heard the sound of a can of food opening before. The first few days, you open the can of
food, the kitten smells the food, comes running, a nd then eats. By the fifth day, your kitten has
learned to come running when the can opens even before you pour out the food. Draw the
classical conditioning taking place in the diagram below. Label the UCS, UCR, NS, CS, and CR.
2. Building off the kitten example on the previous page, how would you then extinguish the
learned behavior if you wanted to? How would it spontaneously recover? Once recovered, how
could you kitten generalize the behavior? How could it discriminate? Be sure to answer all four
(4) parts.
3. Refer back to the six ethical principles in conducting experiments that we discussed in class
earlier this year. Which of the six principles do you feel were violated in the Little Albert study?
4. Create some real-life examples of positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive
punishment, and negative punishment. Be sure to answer all four (4) parts. Hint: Think of
school, work, social behavior, etc. for examples.
5. Imagine yourself fifteen years in the future. You have a four-year-old daughter and you’re trying
to teach her how to ride a bike. How would you use shaping to train her? Be sure
to give specific examples at each stage of the training, not just a general overview.
6. Depressed at the lack of respect his students show him, Mr. Root one day decides to quit
teaching and become a professional bodybuilder. He signs a contract with an organization that
offers to pay him $25 for each hour he spends in the weight room. What is likely to happen to
Mr. Root’s love of weight lifting, and which psychological phenomenon is this known as?
7. Create some real-life examples of being rewarded on the following scales: variable ratio, fixed
ratio, variable interval, and fixed interval. Be sure to answer all four (4) parts. Hint: Think of
school, work, social behavior, etc. for examples.
8. Based on the results of Albert Bandura’s Bobo Doll studies, what would social learning
psychologists say about kids who watch violent movies and television shows while growing up?
Do you agree with this view – why or why not?
Key Terms
Using your own words, write a brief definition or explanation of each of the following. Feel free to be as succinct
as possible as long as the definition makes sense to you. Do this after or while reading the assigned pages for
1. classical conditioning a. Ivan Pavlov b. unconditioned stimulus (UCS) c. unconditioned response (UCR) -
d. neutral Stimulus (NS) e. conditioned Stimulus (CS) f.
conditioned Response (CR) -
g. acquisition h. extinction i.
spontaneous recovery –
generalization -
k. discrimination l.
cognitive processes of Classical Conditioning -
m. biological predispositions of classical conditioning n. John Garcia studies 2. operant conditioning a. positive reinforcement b. negative reinforcement c. positive punishment d. negative punishment e. limitations of punishment f.
Thorndike’s Law of Effect -
g. Skinner box h. shaping i.
primary reinforcer -
conditioned (secondary) reinforcer -
k. cognitive map l.
latent learning -
m. overjustification effect n. cognitive processes of operant conditioning o. biological predispositions of operant conditioning p. schedules of reinforcement i. continuous reinforcement –
ii. partial reinforcement 1. fixed-ratio 2. variable-ratio 3. fixed-interval 4. variable-interval 3. observational learning a. modeling i. prosocial behavior ii. antisocial behavior b. Albert Bandura’s Bobo Doll Study –