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Learned behaviour refers to animal responses that adapt or change with experiences.
This type of behaviour is of greatest survival benefit to animals:
With a long lifespan, so time to learn.
With an element of parental care of young
Living with other members of the species in order to learn from them.
Classifying Learned Behaviour
Animals learn to ignore repeated stimuli because repeated exposure to the stimulus
results in neither a reward nor a punishment. For example habituation allows the
screening out of the nondangerous stimuli in the environment like the sound of the
wind. It avoids wasting energy.
This involves young animals becoming associated with another organism usually the
Imprinting only occurs in a sensitive period (also known as receptive period). It is
significant in helping the young to learn skills from the parents.
This was described by Pavlov. He observed that when dogs were shown food, or
when they smelt food they salivated. This is a normal reflex action. It is a response to
an unconditioned stimulus the sight or smell of food. He then rang a bell when he
was about to give the dogs food. He noticed that the dogs soon began to salivate on
hearing the bell, even if they could not see or smell food.
The ringing is known as a conditioned stimulus which leads to a new reflex action
called a conditioned response. This is classical conditioning, where animals can
learn to relate a pair of events and respond to the first in anticipation of the second.
This type of learning is passive and involuntary.
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B.F Skinner became interested in creating specific behavioural reaction to a stimulus
by adding an element of reward or punishment. In an experiment with a Skinner box,
he showed that animals in the box would at first accidentally press a lever which
resulted in a reward of a food pellet. This reward led to increasing frequency of
pressing the lever because the animal has associated the operation with the reward
of food. This type of learning is active and to an extent voluntary.…read more