AP Psychology
Learning - Classical Conditioning

Chapter 6 - Weiten
Chapter 7 - Myers

    Definition of Learning- a relatively durable change in behavior or knowledge that is due to experience

Kinds of Learning

  • Insight (AHA Phenomena) - when one suddenly realizes how to solve a problem
  • Trial and Error Learning - repeated, varied attempts which are continued until success, or until the agent stops trying. It is an unsystematic method which does not employ insight, theory or organised methodology.
  • Classical Conditioning (Respondent Conditioning) - Pavlov
  • Instrumental Conditioning (Operant Conditioning) – Skinner

Classical Conditioning

Definition of Classical Conditioning – a type of learning in which a stimulus acquires the capacity to evoke a response that was originally evoked by another stimulus

Pavlov’s Dogs – Discovered “Psychic reflexes” --> Dogs would salivate before being offered meat, or even to the sound of the machine that gave them the meat. The tone started as a NEUTRAL STIMULUS (did not produce salivation), but paired with the meat it DID begin to produce salivation --> learned response


Watch this Crash Course video up to minute 5:47....

Terms in Classical Conditioning

1.Unconditional Stimulus (UCS) – stimulus that evokes an unconditioned response without previous conditioning

2.Unconditional Response (UCR) – an unlearned reaction to an unconditioned stimulus that occurs without previous conditioning

3.Conditioned Stimulus (CS) – previously neutral stimulus that has, through conditioning, acquired the capacity to evoke a conditioned response

4.Conditioned Response (CR) – a learned reaction to a conditioned stimulus that occurs because of previous conditioning

Classical Conditioning Diagrams

Acquisition – Forming new responses, the initial stage of learning something. Pavlov theorized that acquisition depends on STIMULUS CONTIGUITY=occurrence of stimuli together in time and space. Stimulus contiguity is only part of it, but not all, or we would be continually classically conditioned…

Extinction – Weakening conditioned responses. CS doesn’t last indefinitely, extinction is the gradual weakening and disappearance of a conditioned response tendency. Extinction occurs when the conditioned stimulus is consistently presented ALONE, without the unconditioned stimulus. Speed of extinction depends on the strength of CS, fears are the hardest to extinguish.

Spontaneous recovery – reappearance of an extinguished response after a period of non-exposure to the conditioned response.

Second spontaneous recovery - Usually weaker than the first

  • Renewal effect – if a response is extinguished in a different environment than where it was acquired the extinguished response will reappear if the animal is returned to the original environment where acquisition took place

Discrimination and Generalization

  • Stimulus Generalization – occurs when an organism that has learned a response to a specific stimulus responds in the same way to a new but similar stimulus
  • Stimulus Discrimination – occurs when an organism that has learned a response to a specific stimulus DOES NOT respond in the same way to a new but similar stimulus

Schedules of Conditioning

1.Normal - CS and UCS are presented at the same time, CS stopped then UCS stopped.

2.Delayed - CS is presented before UCS, then CS is stopped, then UCS is stopped after

3.Simultaneous – Both CS and UCS occur and stop at the same time. Produces minimal conditioning. Often used as a control conditioning.

4.Backward – UCS is presented before the CS, both stop at the same time

5.Temporal – UCS is presented alone at a discrete time intervals (e.g., 30 seconds). Eventually the time elapsed since the last stimulus present becomes a signal for the delivery of the UCS. Thus, time becomes a CS. Why many individuals have food related thoughts and behavior before lunch or dinner whether they are hungry or not


Mr. Schallhorn (11 minutes) describes learning and classical conditioning:

And gives you some examples to practice with (6 minutes)...

Mrs. Rice has so much good info to tell you about classical conditioning it takes 3 videos!

Mrs. Rice Classical Conditioning Part 1 (9:22):

Mrs. Rice Classical Conditioning Part 2 (6:14):

Mrs. Rice Classical Conditioning Part 3 (2:48):

And finally Mr. Duez has a great comprehensive powerpoint with lots of PICTURES AND VIDEO CLIPS (click HERE for Mr. Duez actually lecturing, 52 minutes long) just the powerpoint below: