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Learning - the process by which experience or practice results in a relatively permanent change in behavior or potential behavior

Conditioning- the acquisition of specific patterns of behavior in the presence of well-defined stimuli

Classical or Pavlovian conditioning - type of learning in which a response naturally elicited by one stimulus comes to be elicited by a different, neutral stimulus

Operant or instrumental conditioning - type of learning in which behaviors are emitted to earn rewards to avoid punishments

Unconditioned stimulus US - stimulus that invariably causes an organism to respond in a specific way

Unconditioned response (UR) -response that takes place in an organism whenever an unconditioned stimulus occurs

Conditioned stimulus - originally neutral stimulus that is paired with an unconditioned stimulus and eventually produces the desired response in an organism when presented alone

Conditioned response - after conditioning, the response an organism produces when only a conditioned stimulus is presented

Desensitization therapy - conditioning technique designed to gradually reduce anxiety about a particular object or situation

Taste aversion - conditioned avoidance of poisonous food

Operant behavior - behavior designed to operate on the environment in a way that will gain something desired or avoid something unpleasant

Reinforcer - a stimulus that follows a behavior and increases the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated

Punisher - a stimulus that follows a behavior and decreases the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated

Law of effect - Thorndike’s theory that behavior consistently rewarded will be ‘stamped in’ as learned behavior

Positive reinforcer - Any event whose presence increases the likelihood that ongoing behavior will recur

Negative reinforcer - Any event whose reduction or termination increases the likelihood that ongoing behavior will recur

Avoidance training - Learning a desirable behavior to prevent an unpleasant condition such as punishment from occurring

Response acquisition - ‘building phase’ of the conditioning during which the likelihood or strength of the desired response increases

Intermittent pairing - pairing the conditioned stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus on only a portion of the learning trials

Skinner box - box that is often used in operant conditioning of animals. It limits the available responses and thus increases the likelihood that the desired response will occur

Shaping - reinforcing successive approximations of a desired behavior

Extinction - decrease in the strength or frequency of a learned response due to failure to continue pairing the US and CS or the withholding of reinforcement

Spontaneous recovery - the reappearance of an extinguished response after the passage of time

Stimulus generalization - transfer of a learned response to different but similar stimuli

Stimulus discrimination - learning to respond to only one stimulus and to inhibit the response to all other stimuli

Response generalization - giving a response that is somewhat different from the response originally learned to that stimulus

Primary reinforcer - reinforcer that is rewarding in itself, such as food, water, and sex

Secondary reinforcer - reinforcer whose value is learned through association with other primary or secondary reinforcers

Contingency - a reliable ‘if-then’ relationship between two events such as a CS and US

Blocking - prior conditioning prevents conditioning to a second stimulus even when the two stimuli are presented simultaneously

Schedule of reinforcement - in partial reinforcement, the rule for determining when and how often reinforcers will be delivered

Fixed-interval schedule - reinforcement schedule that calls for reinforcement of a correct response after a fixed length of time

Variable-interval schedule - reinforcement schedule in which a correct response is reinforced after varying lengths of time after the last reinforcement

Fixed-ratio schedule - reinforcement schedule in which the correct response is reinforced after a fixed number of correct responses

Variable-ratio schedule - reinforcement schedule in which a varying number of correct responses must occur before reinforcement is presented

Cognitive learning - learning that depends on mental processes that are not directly observable

Latent learning -learning that is not immediately reflected in a behavior change

Cognitive map - a learned mental image of a spatial environment that may be called on to solve problems when stimuli in the environment change

Learning set - ability to become increasingly more effective in solving problems as more problems are solved

Social learning theory - view of learning that emphasizes the ability to learn by observing a model or receiving instructions, without firsthand experience by the learner

Observational learning - learning by observing other people’s behavior

Vicarious reinforcement/punishment - performance of behaviors learned through observation that is modified by watching others who are reinforced or punished for their behavior

Token economy – a behavioral technique in which rewards for desired acts are accumulated through tokens, which represent a form of money

Cognitive map – a mental image of where one is located in space

Cognitive approach – a way of learning based on abstract mental processes and previous knowledge

Learning curve – a gradual upward slope representing increased retention of material as the result of learning

State-dependent learning- the fact that material learned in one chemical state is best reproduced when the same state occurs again

Transfer of training- a learning process in which learning is moved from one task to another based on similarities between the tasks

Positive transfer – a transfer of learning that results from similarities between two tasks

Negative transfer – an interference with learning due to differences between two otherwise similar tasks

Information processing – the methods by which we take in, analyze, store, and retrieve material

Schema – an organized and systematic approach to answering questions or solving problems

Elaboration – the process of attaching a maximum number of associations to a basic concept or other material to be learned so that it can be retrieved more easily

Mnemonic devices – unusual associations made to material to aid memory

Principle learning – a method of learning in which an overall view (principle) of the material to be learned is developed so that the material is better organized

Chunking – putting things into clusters or ‘chunks’ so that items learned are in groups, rather than separate

Forgetting – an increase in errors when trying to bring material back from memory

Overlearning – the process of learning something beyond one perfect recitation so that the forgetting curve will have no effect; the development of perfect retention.

Forgetting curve – graphic representation of speed and amount of forgetting that occurs

Recall – the ability to bring back and integrate many specific learned details

Recognition – the ability to pick the correct object or event from a list of choices

Interference theory – the belief that we forget because new and old material conflict with one another

Amnesia – the blocking of older memories and/or the loss of new ones

Short-term memory – the memory system that retains information for a few seconds to a few minutes

Long-term memory – the memory system that retains information for hours, days, weeks, months, decades

Sensory memory system – direct receivers of information from the environment – for example, iconic, acoustic

Iconic memory – a very brief visual memory that can be sent to the STM

Acoustic memory – a very brief sound memory that can be sent to the STM

Eidetic imagery – an iconic memory lasting a minute or so that keeps images ‘in front of the person’ so objects can be counted or analyzed, also called ‘photographic memory’




Language is intimately connected to cognition



Language Acquisition-

First stage – babbling
-         babbling appears to be innate
-         babies in this stage are capable of producing any phoneme from any language

-         babbling progresses into utterances of words as babies imitate the words they hear caregivers say

Second stage – telegraphic speech

-         combine words into simple commands
-         begin to learn grammar and syntax rules during this stage

 Controversy in language acquisition

-Behaviorists believe it is learned through operant conditioning and shaping
-Noam Chomsky – nativist theory of language acquisition, says humans are born with a language                 acquisition device which allows them to learn language rapidly. There may be a critical eriod         for     learning language.
-Most psychologists now agree that there is some combination of the two

Language and Cognition

Benjamin Whorf, linguistic relativity hypothesis – the language we use might control, and in some ways limit, our thinking


Schemata – cognitive rules we use to interpret the world 
Concepts- similar to schemats, rules that allow us to categorize and think about the objects, people, and ideas we encounter
– the most typical example of a particular concept
– mental pictures
Problem Solving
Algorithms – try every possible solution,, an algorithm is a rule that guarantees the right solution by using a formula or foolproof method, may be impractical
Heuristics –a rule of thumb,it limits the possible combinations drastically
Availability heuristic- judging a situation based on examples of similar situations that come to mind initially.
Representativeness heuristic – judging a situation based on how similar the aspects are to prototypes the person holds in his or her mind.

Use of the heuristics can lead to specific problems in judgments. Overconfidence, belief bias, belief perseverance

 Impediments to Problem Solving-
-         rigidity (mental set) tendency to fall into established thought patterns

-         functional fixedness – the inability to see a new use for an object

-         not breaking the problem into parts
-         confirmation bias – we tend to look for evidence that confirms our beliefs
-         Framing – the way a problem is presented


-         little correlation between intelligence and creativity
-         difficult to define, originality, appropriateness, novel, somehow fits the situation
- convergent thinking- thinking pointed toward one solution
- divergent thinking- thinking that searches for multiple possible answers to a question - divergent thinking is more closely associated with creativity.




1.        Mr. Krohn, a carpenter is frustrated because he misplaced his hammer and needs to pound in the last nail in the bookcase he is building. He overlooks the fact that he could use the tennis trophy sitting above the workbench to pound in the nail. Which concept best explains why Mr. Krohn overlooked the trophy?

  1. representativeness heuristic

  2. retrieval

  3. functional fixedness

  4. belief bias

  5. divergent thinking

2.        Phonemes and morphemes refer to

  1. elements of telegraphic speech toddlers use.

  2. Elements of language.

  3. Building blocks of concepts.

  4. Basic elements of memories stored in a long-term memory.

  5. Two types of influences language has on thought according to the linguistic relativity hypothesis.

3.        Which example would be better explained by the levels of processing model than the information-processing model?

  1. Someone says your name across the room and you switch your attention away from the conversation you are having.
  2. You forget part of a list you were trying to memorize for a test.

  3. While visiting with your grandmother, you recall one of your favorite childhood toys

  4. You are able to remember verbatim a riddle you worked on for a few days before you figured out the answer.

  5. You pay less attention to the smell of your neighbor’s cologne than to the professor’s lecture in your college class.

4.        Contrary to what Whorf’s linguistic relativity hypothesis originally predicted, what effect does recent research indicate language has on the way we think?

  1. Since we think in language, the language we understand limits what we have the ability to think about.

  2. Language is a tool of thought but does not limit our cogniton.

  3. The labels we apply affect our thoughts.

  4. The relative wods in each langage afect our ability to think because we are restricted to the words each langage uses.

  5. The linguistic relativity hypothesis predicts that how quickly we acquire language correlates with our cognitive ability

5.        Which of the following is an example of the use of the representativeness heuristic?

  1. Judging that a young person is more likely to be the instigator of an argument than an older person, because you believe younger people are more likely to start fights.

  2. Breaking a math story problem down into smaller, representative parts, in order to solve it.

  3. Judging a situation by a rule that is usuly, but not always true.

  4. Solving a problem with a rule that guarantees the right, more representative answer.

  5. Making a judgment according to past experiences that are most easily recalled, therefore representative of experience.

6.        Which of the following is the most complete list of elements in the three-box/information processing model?

  1. Sensory memory, constructive memory, working memory, and long-term memory.

  2. Short-term memory, working memory, and long-term memory.

  3. Shallow processing, deep processing, and retrieval.

  4. Sensory memory, encoding, working memory, and retrieval.

  5. Sensory memory, working memory, encoding, long-term memory, and retrieval.

7.        Which of the following is an effective method for testing whether a memory is actually true or whether it is a constructed memory?

  1. Checking to see whether it was deeply processed or shallowly processed.

  2. Testing to see if the memory was encoded from sensory memory into working memory.

  3. Using a PET scan to see if the memory is stored in the hippocampus.

  4. Using other evidence, such as written records, to substantiate the memory.

  5. There is no way to tell the difference between a true memory and a constructed one.

8.        One of the ways memories are physically stored in the brain is by what process?

  1. Deep processing, which increases levels of neurotransmitters in the hippocampus.

  2. Encoding, which stimulates electric activity in the hippocampus.

  3. Long-term potentiation, which strengthens connections between neurons.

  4. Selective attention, which increases myelination of memory neurons.

  5. Rehearsal, which causes the brain to devote more neurons to what is being rehearsed.

9.        According to the nativist theory, language is acquired

  1. by parents reinforcing correct language use.

  2. Using an inborn ability to learn language at a certain developmental stage.

  3. Best in the language and culture native to the child and parents.
  4. Only if formal language instruction is provided in the child’s native language.

  5. Best through the phonics instructional method, because children retain how to pronounce all the phonemes required for the language.

10.     According to the three-box/information-processing model, stimuli from our outside environment is first stored in

  1. working memory.

  2. The hippocampus.

  3. The thalamus.

  4. Sensory memory.

  5. Selective attention.

11.     Which of the following is the best example of the use of the availability heuristic?

  1. Judging a situation by a rule that is usually, but not always, true.

  2. Making a judgment according to past experiences that are most easily recalled.

  3. Judging that a problem should be solved using a formula that guarantees the right answer.

  4. Making a judgment according to what is usually true in your experience.

  5. Solving a problem by breaking it into more easily available parts.

12.     Which sentence most accurately describes sensory memory?

  1. .Sensory memory stores all sensory input perfectly accurately for a short period of time.

  2. Sensory memory encodes only sensations we are attending to at the time.

  3. Sensory memory receives memories from the working memory and decides which memories to encode in long-term memory.

  4. Sensory memory records all incoming sensations and remembers them indefinitely.

  5. Sensory memory records some sensations accurately, but some are recorded incorrectly, leading to constructive memory.

13.     Recall is a more difficult process than recognition because
  1. memories retrieved by recognition are held in working memory, and recalled memories are in long-term memory.

  2. Memories retrieved by recognition are more deeply processed.

  3. The process of recall involves cues to the memory that causes interference.

  4. Memories retrieved by recognition are more recent than memories retrieved by recall.

  5. The process of recognition involves matching a person, event, or object with something already in memory

14.     Which of the following would be the best piece of evidence for the nativist theory of language acquisition?

  1. A child who acquires language at an extremely early age through intense instruction by her or his parents.

  2. Statistical evidence that children in one culture learn language faster than children in another culture.

  3. A child of normal mental ability not being able to learn language due to language deprivation at a young age.

  4. A child skipping the babbling and telegraphic speech stages of language acquisition.

  5. A child deprived of language at an early age successfully learning language later.

15.     A friend mentions to you that she heard humans never forget anything; we remember everything that ever happens to us. What concept from memory research most directly contradicts this belief?

  1. sensory memory

  2. selective attention

  3. long-term memory

  4. constructive memory

  5. recovered memory




Major issues, methods, prenatal development, infancy 

I. Development involves the processes and stages of growth from conception across the life span. It encompasses changes in physical, cognitive, and social behaviors.

II. Major issues

A. Nature versus nurture-are we more affected by heredity or environment? 

B. Continuity versus discontinuity-is developmental change gradual, or do we progress through distinct stages?

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