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Behavioral Theory

Group 6

Educational Psychology
Define and contrast the three types of
behavioral learning theories (contiguity,
classical conditioning, and operant
conditioning), giving examples of how each
can be used in the classroom.

Developed by W. Huitt & J. Hummel (1999)

it is not recognized as learning until it is displayed by overt behavior.Behavioral Learning Theory According to the behaviorists. . However. learning can be defined as “the relatively permanent change in behavior brought about as a result of experience or practice.” Behaviorists recognize that learning is an internal event.

• The focus of the behavioral approach is on how the environment impacts overt behavior. . • Remember that biological maturation or genetics is an alternative explanation for relatively permanent change.Behavioral Learning Theory • The term "learning theory" is often associated with the behavioral view.

Stimulus Organism Response (S) (O) (R) .” We only know what is going on inside the box by the organism’s overt behavior.Behavioral Learning Theory The behavioral learning theory is represented as an S-R paradigm. The organism is treated as a “black box.

.Behavioral Learning Theory The feedback loop that connects overt behavior to stimuli that activate the senses has been studied extensively from this perspective.


Behavioral Learning Theory Notice that the behaviorists are only interested in that aspect of feedback that connects directly to overt behavior. Behaviorists are not interested in the conscious decision of the individual to disrupt. modify. or go against the conditioning process. .

Behavioral Learning Theory There are three types of behavioral learning theories: • Contiguity theory • Classical or respondent conditioning theory • Operant or instrumental conditioning theory .

Guthrie. .Contiguity Theory Contiguity theory is based on the work of E. R. It proposes that any stimulus and response connected in time and/or space will tend to be associated.

.Contiguity Theory Examples: • A baseball player wearing a certain pair of socks on the day he hits three home runs associates wearing the socks and hitting home runs. • A student making a good grade on a test after trying a new study technique makes an association between the stimulus of studying and the response of getting a good grade.

Contiguity Theory Guthrie’s contiguity theory is one foundation for the more cognitivelyoriented learning theory of neural networks. .

The major theorist in the development of classical conditioning is Ivan Pavlov. a Russian scientist trained in biology and medicine (as was his German contemporary. Sigmund Freud). .Classical Conditioning Theory Classical conditioning was the first type of learning to be discovered and studied within the behaviorist tradition (hence the name classical).

. one is responding to an environmental antecedent. Skinner renamed this type of learning "respondent conditioning” since in this type of learning.Classical Conditioning Theory Pavlov was studying the digestive system of dogs and became intrigued with his observation that dogs deprived of food began to salivate when one of his assistants walked into the room. He began to investigate this phenomena and established the laws of classical conditioning.

. You have no voluntary or conscious control over whether the blink occurs or not. if air is blown into your eye. you blink. • For example. • This involuntary behavior is elicited or caused by an antecedent environmental event. involuntary behavior.Classical Conditioning Theory • General model: Stimulus (S) elicits >Response (R) • Classical conditioning starts with a reflex (R): an innate.

Classical Conditioning Theory The specific model for classical conditioning is: • A stimulus will naturally (without learning) elicit or bring about a reflexive response • Unconditioned Stimulus (US) elicits > Unconditioned Response (UR) .

.does not elicit the response of interest • This stimulus (sometimes called an orienting stimulus as it elicits an orienting response) is a neutral stimulus since it does not elicit the Unconditioned (or reflexive) Response.Classical Conditioning Theory The specific model for classical conditioning is: • Neutral Stimulus (NS) --.


Classical Conditioning Theory The Neutral/Orientiing Stimulus (NS) is repeatedly paired with the Unconditioned/Natural Stimulus (US). .


Classical Conditioning Theory • The Neutral Stimulus (NS) is transformed into a Conditioned Stimulus (CS). . when the CS is presented by itself. it elicits or causes the CR (which is the same involuntary response as the UR. • That is. • The name changes because it is elicited by a different stimulus. • This is written CS elicits > CR.


sad. angry. classical conditioning is seen primarily in the conditioning of emotional behavior. • Things that make us happy. become associated with neutral stimuli that gain our attention. etc.Classical Conditioning Theory • In the area of classroom learning. .

the previously neutral stimulus will elicit the emotional response . teacher. classroom.Classical Conditioning Theory • For example. or subject matter are initially neutral stimuli that gain attention. • Activities at school or in the classroom automatically elicit emotional responses and these activities are associated with the neutral or orienting stimulus • After repeated presentations. the school.

Classical Conditioning Theory Example: • Child is harassed at school • Child feels bad when harassed • Child associates being harassed and school • Child begins to feel bad when she thinks of school .

. the connection between school and being harassed must be broken.Classical Conditioning Theory In order to extinguish the associated of feeling bad and thinking of school.

• The details of operant conditioning are presented separately. .Operant Conditioning Theory • Operant conditioning is the study of the impact of consequences on behavior. • With operant conditioning we are dealing with voluntary behaviors.

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