Conditioned Responses and Stimulus Contingency

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30 Questions

What is positive reinforcement?

A reward is given to increase the likelihood of a behavior happening again

What is avoidance learning?

Learning to make a specific response to avoid a negative stimulus

Which is an example of a primary reinforcer?


In what circumstance can avoidance learning lead to learned helplessness?

When an organism learns that negative outcomes are uncontrollable

What is discrimination in the context of reinforcement?

Knowing when a behavior will not be reinforced

What differentiates primary from secondary reinforcement?

Primary reinforcements are associated with survival needs, secondary are optional

What does Thorndike's law of effect state?

Behaviors followed by positive outcomes are strengthened, and behaviors followed by negative outcomes are weakened.

What did Skinner's pigeon-guided missile concept involve?

Pigeons guiding missiles through pecking at moving images on a screen for a food reward.

What is the term used to describe rewarding approximations of a desired behavior until the desired behavior occurs?


What is the fundamental principle of operant conditioning according to Skinner?

The behavior is shaped through positive and negative reinforcement.

How did Skinner apply the basic principles of operant conditioning during WWII?

By using pigeons to guide missiles through operant conditioning.

What does Thorndike's S-R theory emphasize in relation to learning?

A connection between stimulus and response is needed for learning.

What is required for conditioned responses to be learned best?

Contiguity and contingency

What occurs in generalization during classical conditioning?

A new similar stimulus elicits a response similar to the CR

What is discrimination in classical conditioning?

Learning to respond to certain stimuli while not responding to others

When does spontaneous recovery occur in classical conditioning?

When the CR returns after a time delay without further conditioning

What did John Watson and his student Rosalie Rayner study in relation to classical conditioning?

Explanation for phobias using classical conditioning

What does renewal refer to in classical conditioning?

The recovery of the conditioned response when the organism is placed in a novel context

Why is Elmer crying in the text?

He is cutting onions and it makes his eyes water.

At what time did the clock chime in the text?

5:00 p.m.

What behavior did Elmer and his friend engage in before Elmer's eyes started to water?

Watching TV.

Why does Elmer's eyes start to water in the text?

As a reaction to cutting onions.

Which of the following behaviors was NOT mentioned in the text?

Running a marathon.

What consequences did Tim face in the text?

Not being able to do his chores for two days.

Which of the following is the goal of Activity Handout 6.2: How Do You Shape This Behavior?

Demonstrating the concept of shaping behaviors

In Activity Handout 6.3: Which Schedule Is It?, what is the purpose of having students read various scenarios?

Determining the schedule of reinforcement

What is the main focus of the Partial Reinforcement activity where students are divided into groups?

Developing examples for various reinforcement schedules

Which of the following is NOT a goal of the lecture/discussion on Applied Behavioral Analysis?

Identifying immediate and delayed reinforcement

What is the difference between Immediate Reinforcement and Delayed Reinforcement according to the text?

The immediacy of reinforcement

Why is Shaping introduced to students in the context of operant conditioning?

To demonstrate changing complex behaviors in small steps

Study Notes

Operant Conditioning

  • Operant conditioning involves the use of reinforcement, punishment, and extinction to modify behavior.
  • Shaping is a technique used to reward approximations of a desired behavior until the desired behavior occurs.
  • Immediate reinforcement is more effective than delayed reinforcement in strengthening behavior.
  • Immediate punishment is more effective than delayed punishment in weakening behavior.


  • Positive reinforcement occurs when a stimulus is added to increase the probability of a behavior.
  • Negative reinforcement occurs when a stimulus is removed to increase the probability of a behavior.
  • Primary reinforcers are biological needs, such as food and water, that are necessary for survival.
  • Secondary reinforcers, such as money, gain their value through experience.

Generalization and Discrimination

  • Generalization occurs when a response is given to similar stimuli.
  • Discrimination occurs when an individual responds to stimuli that signal when a behavior will or will not be reinforced.
  • Thorndike's law of effect states that behaviors followed by positive outcomes will be strengthened, and those followed by negative outcomes will be weakened.

Skinner's Approach

  • B.F. Skinner applied operant conditioning principles to all species.
  • He used pigeons to guide missiles during WWII and wrote a novel, Walden Two, on a scientifically managed society operated through operant conditioning.

Shaping and Conditioning

  • Shaping is a technique used to examine complex behaviors, such as service dog training.
  • Research has found a connection between brain activity and operant conditioning.
  • Conditioned responses are learned best when the CS and UCS occur close together with contiguity and contingency.

Extinction and Spontaneous Recovery

  • Extinction occurs when the UCS is removed, and the CR weakens.
  • Spontaneous recovery occurs when the CR returns after a time delay without further conditioning.
  • Renewal refers to the recovery of the conditioned response in a novel context.

Classical Conditioning in Humans

  • Classical conditioning explains phobias, which are irrational fears.
  • John Watson and Rosalie Rayner demonstrated classical conditioning in an experiment with an infant, Albert, and a white rat.
  • Classical conditioning is used to explain fears and phobias in humans.

Learn about the importance of contiguity and contingency in conditioned responses. Explore concepts like generalization and discrimination in stimulus response learning.

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