Theories of Learning in Psychology are

  1. Behavioristic Theories
  2. Cognitive Theories
    1. Trial and error learning
    2. Classical - conditioning learning and its application
    3. Operant conditioning learning

1. Behavioristic Theories

Behavioristic theory to the school behaviorism. They interpret learning in terms of association between stimulus and responses (S-R). Under these categories we may include theories like trial and error, classical-conditioning and operant.

2. Cognitive Theories

Cognitive theories belongs to t he school of Gestalt psychology and cognitive psychology. These theories emphasize the role of insight under stand and other cognitive factors in the process of learning. Under the category of this theory like theory of insightful learning, Tolman sign learning theory etc.

Cognitive approaches to learning consider learning in terms of thought processes, or cognition.

a) Trial and error learning theories:

The famous psychologist Edward L. Throndike (1974-1949) is known as the founding father of the theory trial and error learning. It is the result of this experiment performed on chicken, rat, and cat. He put a hungry cat in a puzzle box. There was only one door for exit, which could be open by currently manipulating a latch fish was placed outside the box. The smell of this fish worked as the strong nature for the hungry to come out the box. Thorndike devised this puzzle box to study the process by which a cat learns to press a paddle to escape from the box and receive food. He believed that over time and through experience the organism would make a direct connection between the stimulus and the response without any awareness that the connection existed.

b) Classical - Conditioning learning and its application:

 Classical conditioning is a type of learning in which a neutral stimulus comes to bring about a response after it is paired with a stimulus that naturally brings about that response.

Conditioning is the process of learning association by linking of two events that occur together, usually between a stimulus and responses. Learning through association (S-R) is the associated with the Russian physiologist Ivan P. Pavlov (1949-1936), who develop the conditioning techniques known as 'Pavlovin - conditioning'. Pavlov conducted much of his research on dog. Classical conditioning refers to conditioning in the manner establish by Pavlov. - Classical conditioning is considered as basic forms of learning because a new behavior has been acquired and old behavior can be replaced by new stimuli. Classical conditioning was first experimentally demonstrated by psychologist Pavlov through the conditioning of a dog to salivate when it heard a bell in a normal way. The dog was supposed to salivate only in the natural stimuli like food. It is also known as Stimulus and responses in basic elements in classical conditioning:

a) Unconditioned stimulus (UCS):

A stimulus that naturally brings about a particular response without having been learned.

b) Unconditioned responses (UCR):

A response that is natural and needs no training.

c) Neutral stimulus:

A stimulus that, before conditioning, does not naturally bring about the response of interest.

d) Conditioned stimulus (CS):

Stimulus to bring about a response formerly caused only by the conditioned stimulus.

e) Conditioned responses (CR): A

Response that, after conditioning, follows a previously neutral stimulus.

The basic process of classical conditioning:

  1. Before conditioning, the ringing of a bell does not bring about salivation- making the bell a neutral stimulus. In contrast, meat naturally brings about salivation, making the meat an unconditioned response.
  2. During conditioning, the bell is rung just before the presentation of meat.
  3. Eventually, the ringing of the bell alone brings about salivation.

We can say that conditioning has been accomplished: The previously neutral stimulus of the bell is now considered a conditioned stimulus that brings about the conditioned response of salivation.

  • S-R ( Stimulus- Response)
  • S-O-R ( Stimulus Organism Response)

Operant Conditioning Learning

  • Operant conditioning is learning in which a voluntary response is strengthened or weakened, depending on its favorable or unfavorable consequences.
  • The term operant emphasizes this point: The organism operates on its environment to produce a desirable result.
  • It refers to a kind of learning process whereby a response is made mere probable or more frequent by reinforcement. It helps in the learning of operant behavior. This behavior that is not necessarily associated with a know stimuli. In operate conditioning; learning is dependent on its consequences. This behavior that are reinforced by other factors. Psychologist B.I. Skinner (1904-1990) known as the founding father of operant conditioning learning. Skinner was deeply influence by Watson.
  • It is a form of learning in which a voluntary behavior is strengthened or weakened. According to Skinner, the major mechanism underlying learning is reinforcement, the process by which stimulus increases the probability that a preceding behavior will be repeated.
  • Motivation factor increase then reinforced level also or interest also increase. It interests increase then the learning also increases.
  • Operant conditioning is term derived from the word 'Operate', when our behavior operates in the outside world, it produces some kind of effect for us and this effect determined our behavior.

Skinner's Operant Conditioning

(For response and stimulus, motivation is important).

  • Reinforcement: The central concept of operant conditioning.
  • Skinner called the process that leads the rat to continue pressing the key “Reinforcement”.
  • Reinforcement is the process by which a stimulus increases the probability that a preceding behavior will be repeated. In other words, pressing the leaver is more likely to occur again because of the stimulus of food. B.F. Skinner with a skinner box used to study operant conditioning. Laboratory rats to press the lever in order to obtain food, which is delivered in the tray.
  • A primary reinforcer satisfies some biological need and works naturally, regardless of a person’s previous experience. Food for a hungry person, warmth for a cold person, and relief for a person in pain all would be classified as primary reinforcers.
  • A secondary reinforcers, in contrast, is a stimulus that becomes reinforcing because of its association with a primary reinforces. For instance, we know that money is valuable, because we have learned that it allows us to obtain other desirable objects, including primary reinforcers such as food and shelter. Money thus becomes a secondary reinforce (Moher et al., 2008).
  • A positive reinforce is a stimulus added to the environment that brings about an increase in a preceding response.
  • A negative reinforce refers to an unpleasant stimulus whose removal lead to an increase in the probability that a preceding response will be repeated in the future.
  • Punishment refers to a stimulus that decreases the probability that a prior behavior will occur again. There are two types of punishment: Positive punishment and negative punishment. Positive means adding something, and negative means removing something.

Comparing Classical and Operant Conditioning

Classical Conditioning Operant Conditioning
Build associations between a conditioned stimulus and conditioned response. Reinforcement increase the frequency of the behavior preceding it; Punishment decrease the frequency of the behavior preceding it.
Based on involuntary, natural, innate behavior. Behavior is elicited by the unconditioned or conditioned stimulus. Organism voluntary operate on its environment to produce a desirable result. After behavior occurs, the likelihood of the behavior occurring again is increased or decreased by the behavior’s consequences.
Before conditioning, an unconditioned stimulus leads to an unconditioned response. After conditioning, a conditioned stimulus leads to a conditioned response. Reinforce leads to an increase in behavior; punishment leads to a decrease in behavior.
After a physician gives a child a series of painful injections(an unconditioned stimulus) that produce an emotional reaction (an unconditioned response), the child develops an emotional reaction (a conditioned response) whenever he sees the physician ( the conditioned stimulus) A student who, after studying hard for a test, earns an A (positive reinforce), is more likely to study hard in the future. A student who, after going out drinking the night before a test, fails the test (punishment) is likely to go out drinking the night before the next test.

Application of operant conditioning

  • In education
  • In business
  • At home
  • At clinical situation

Cognitive Learning theory/approach

Cognitive learning theory is an approach to the study of learning that focuses on the thought processes that underlie learning. Remember that the cognitive learning approach focuses on the internal thoughts and expectations of learners, whereas classical and operant conditioning approaches focus on external stimuli, responses and reinforcement

Latent learning: a new behavior is learned but not demonstrated until some incentive is provided for displaying it.

Observational learning: learning by observing the behavior of another person, or model.

Cognition is the process of acquiring knowledge through our thought, experiences and sense. Cognitive learning theory is a broad theory that explaining thinking and mental processes and how they are influence by internal and external factor in order to produce learning in human. Cognitive learning is concern with acquisition of problem-solving abilities and with intelligence and conscious thought.

The cognitive learning explains why the human brain is the most important network of information processing and interpretation in the body as we learn things. This theory can be divided into two specific categories:

  1. The social cognitive theory (SCT)
  2. The cognitive behavior