Learning theory is the view put forward by behaviourists to explain how behaviour is aquired, using principles of conditioning:
Classical conditioning Dogs salivate when they feed. Salavation is an unconditional response (UR) to an unconditioned stimuls (food - the US). The stimulus (US) and the response (UR) are innately linked. If a bell is rung every time food appears, the animal comes to associate the sound of the bell and food, so that the bell alone will produce the UR. The bell was a nuetural stimulus (US) but now a conditioned stimulus (CS) and the salivation is now a conditioned response (CR).The animal has learnt a new stimulus-response link.
Operant conditioning An animal is placed in a cage where food will be delivered if it presses a lever. At first the animal presses the lever accidentely and is rewarded by receving food. This reward increases the probability that the behaviour (lever pressing) will be repeated. The food or reward is then said to be reinforcing. If the lever press results in an electric shock, this will decrese the probability of the response being repeated. The shock acts as a punishment