GCSE Psychology (AQA) Learning topic

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Section 1. LEARNING


  • Learning- For learning to have occured, there has to be a change in behaviour.
  • Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS)- Stimulus that produces a reflex response.
  • Unconditioned Response (UCR)- Reflex response to an unconditioned stimulus.
  • Conditioned Stimulus (CS)- A new stimulus presented with the UCS.
  • Conditioned Response (CR)- A response that is learnt; it occurs when the CS is presented.
  • Neutral Stimulus- Stimulus that does not produce a response but through association it can become a CS.
  • Classical Conditioning- The model of learning focuses on the subject (animal or human) learning through association.
  • Extinction- Conditioned response dies out.
  • Spontaneous recovery- Conditioned Response that disappeared suddenly re-appears.
  • Generalisation- Conditioned Response is produced to similar stimulus to the Conditioned Stimulus.
  • Discrimination- Conditioned Response is only produced when the specific Conditioned Stimulus is presented.

A study into classical conditioning-    Pavlov's Dogs...

Before Conditioning-

                                        Food              --> dog drools

                                        Bell (no food) --> dog does not respond.

                               (food is the UCR and the bell is the NS)

    The process of conditioning:

 Step1.                           Food          --> dog drool      = UCR

Step 2.                          Bell + Food --> dog drools     = UCR

Step 3.                           Bell            --> dog drools    = CR

Food is UCR, pairing the food and the bell pairs the NS and the UCS and gives the UCR. After, just using the bell becomes the CS and the dog drooling becomes an CR

The Case of Little Albert - Watson and Rayner, 1920)

Aim- investigate how classical conditioning can be used to cause a phobia.            

Method- one boy named Albert was observed from 8 months of age. Researchers banged a metal bar with hammer above him to produce noise- Albert was startled by this. In first session,he was shown a white rat and when he tried to touch it the bar was banged.This repeated several time, the next session was a week later and the trials continued then finally the rat was presented by itself. Over the next month Albert was shown a series of other stimulus similar to the rat.

Results- Before experiment Albert was a calm child and did not show any fear to the stimulus shown to him. When touching the rat (with noise) he jumped violently and fell forwards burying his face into the mattress. After a week he became to fear rats. Later when rat shown by self he would cry and crawl away, then began to fear similar stimuli.

Conclusion- Albert's phobia was successfully conditioned.

Evaluation- 1. Case study so cannot generalise. 2. highly controlled in nature, may not explain how we acquire phobias. 3. lacks ecological validity 4. unethical.

Classical Conditioning of Little Albert...

Before-                loud noise-->fear

                            white rat  --> no response.

During-                loud noise and rat--> fear

After-                   white rat --> fear.

Operant Conditioning ( a model of learning)


  • Reinforcement- increases fequency of a targeted behaviour by using either postive or negative stimuli




this was a godsend 

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