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Unit 4

4.1 Introduction to Learning

2 min readjanuary 22, 2021

John Mohl

Dalia Savy


Three Types of Learning

The learning unit is composed of three types of learning: classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning.
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Image Courtesy of Verywell Mind.

Though they share some things in common and do impact the occurrence of the other two types, each type of learning has defining features:
  • Classical Conditioning describes a process in which the environment presents an organism with a stimulus, which in turn causes the organism to react in a certain way. Put another way, the stimulus causes a response. Responses in classical conditioning are involuntary or reflexive.
    • Example: When a puff of air is blown into one’s eyes💨 (stimulus), the person blinks (response). 
  • Operant Conditioning begins with the organism performing a behavior that is voluntary (i.e., non-reflexive) and leads to the environment reacting in a certain way (i.e., providing a consequence, which could be pleasant or unpleasant). This consequence, in turn, influences the likelihood of the organism performing the task again.
    • Example: When the student completed his homework, he received a dollar from his parents 💵 This led him to do his homework more often 💯
  • Observational Learning, as the name suggests, is learning by observing. Put another way, when a person sees another person doing that behavior, the one who is watching might try to imitate the behavior. One could model voluntary or involuntary, reflexive behaviors to another. 
    • Example: When the student saw her friends say a certain catchphrase over the course of several weeks, she found herself saying the same phrase.
    https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2FLearning.png?alt=media&token=870bdd01-bb97-4193-a6c3-4e25bb4528c4

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