Learning Theories and
their Clinical Applications-1
Prepared by: Dr.Maan A.Bari Qasem Saleh
Associate Prof. Depart. Of Psychiatry
Course of Behavioral Sciences
Faculty of Medicine
University of Dammam
1- Classical Learning (Pavlov &Watson)
2- Operant Learning ( Skinner & Thorndike)
3-Social learning (Bandura theory )
4-Insight Learning (Field theory of Kurt Lewin )
(Classical Conditioning Theory)
• Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)
(Russian physiologist )
• The first who gained Noble
prize in1904 for his discovery
in digestive system
• Classically conditioned dogs
using the salivary reflex .
• Dogs normally respond to food by salivating .
• They do not have to be conditioned to salivate to food.
• Dogs do not , however , automatically salivate to the sound of a bell
• This is what Pavlov condition them to do.
• He re-ring the bell , present the food ,and the dogs would salivate .
• He repeated this procedure until the bell alone would cause the
dogs to salivate .
• They had learned to associate the sound of the bell with the
1- Classical Learning
• Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS) the stimulus that automatically
produce a reflex. (in Pavlov's study this was the food).
• Unconditioned Response (UCR) an automatic response to the
UCS a natural response that does not require conditioning for it to
occur (in Pavlov's study this was salivation to the food).
• Conditioned Stimulus (CS) a neutral stimulus that does not
normally elicit an automatic response ; only after pairing it
repeatedly with the UCS , does the CS come to elicit a conditioned
(in Pavlov's study this was the bell).
• Conditioned Response (CR) the learned response that occurs
when the CS is presented alone , without the UCS .
(in Pavlov's study , the CR was salivation that occurred to the bell
alone ; no food was present).
HIGHER Order Conditioning
– Occur when a new neutral stimulus is associated with a
conditioned stimulus (CS) and eventually comes to produce the
conditioned response (CR).
– Albert was classically conditioned , a dog was always paired with
the rat, eventually Albert would display the fear response to the dog .
A diagram of this higher order conditioning example would be :
Rat alone fear
Dog + rat alone fear
(new stimulus) ( CS) (CR)
Dog alone fear
• The process of eliminating the conditioned
response (CR) by no longer pairing the
unconditioned stimulus (UCS) with the conditioned
stimulus (CS) is called extinction .
• Extinction will take place , therefore , if the
conditioned stimulus (CS) is present repeatedly
without the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) .
• Extinction is a method that is used intentionally to
eliminate conditioned response (CR).
• Development of fears and anxiety that
might occurs when visiting a dentist.
• Another example is what is called
“Anticipatory Nausea” in
2- Operant and instrumental
• In operant or instrumental conditioning , response are
learned because of their consequences .
• Unlike classical conditioning , the responses learned in
operant/instrumental conditioning are voluntary.
• There are subtle measurement differences between
operant and instrumental conditioning.
• Because both of these are similar in most respect ,
however , the term operant conditioning will be used to
refer to both .
• American behaviorist
devised a chamber , known
as skinner box , to study:
• The effects of various
schedules of reinforcement
on the behavior of small
animals such as rats and
pigeons . The teaching machine, a
mechanical invention to
automate the task of
law of effect
• American psychologist
Edward L.Thorndike`s (1874-
• law of effect states that a
behavior that is rewarded
tends to be repeated ,while
behavior that is not rewarded
takes place only at random .
• What is learned during operant
or instrumental conditioning is
that certain response are
instrumental in producing
desired effects in the
Simplified graph of the result
of the puzzle box experiment.
• Autonomic conditioning refers to the operant
conditioning of autonomic responses such as
heart rate and intestinal contraction .
• Discovering New Drugs after several
experimental research on animals, and then
humankind is an example of Trial and error
• In behavior therapy, a program sometimes
conducted in an institutional setting (e.g, a
hospital or classroom) in which desired
behavior is reinforced by offering tokens
that can be exchanged for special foods,
television time ,passes, or other rewards.
Distinctions Between Classical Conditioning
and Operant Conditioning
Operant conditioning classical conditioning
1- Behavior affected is usually
experienced as voluntary-for
example, actions (bar press) ,
thoughts (plans for action .
1)Behavior affected is usually
experienced as involuntary-for
example, reflexes (knee jerk ,
salivation, eye blink) , feelings
(fear , anxiety)
2-Key event (reinforcement and
punishment) are produced by the
organism's behavior .
2)Key events (unconditioned and
conditioned stimuli) are presented
to the organism.
3-Those events control the
behavior; that is, they determine
how often the organism emits it
3) Those events elicit the behavior ;
that is, they directly evoke it.
4-In the absence of specific stimuli ,
the behavior does occur ; the effect
of discriminative stimuli is to alter
its frequency .
4)In the absence of key stimuli , the
behavior does not occur .
• Observational learning occur when we
learn new behaviors by watching others .
• This is sometimes called social learning ,
vicarious conditioning , or modeling .
3-1-Learning and Performance
• Edward Tolman (1886-1959) differentiated
between learning and performance .
• Latent learning is learning that is not
demonstrated at the time that it occur.
• We may learn a behavior when we
observe it , but never display the behavior
• We may learn behavior but never perform
• Behavior may not be demonstrated until it
is motivating to do so.
• Cultural mediation and internalization
• The relation between learning and human
• Language and thought development
• Play as a psychological phenomenon
• The study of learning disabilities
• Abnormal human development
• Zone of proximal development
"Zone of Proximal Development
• Vygotsky’s term for the range of tasks that are too
difficult for the child to master alone but that can
be learned with guidance and assistance of adults
or more-skilled children.
• The lower limit of ZPD is the level of skill reached
by the child working independently.
• The upper limit is the level of additional
responsibility the child can accept with the
assistance of an able instructor.
• Bandura (1969) devised
a theory stating that
behavior is controlled
by one of three
systems, behavior is
controlled by 1)external
stimuli , by their
2)consequences or by
3) internal (symbolic)
Processes of Observational learning
1- Attention : attention must be paid to the salient features of another's
actions. Prestige or status of a model can influence whether another's
actions are noticed .
2-Retention : observed behaviors must be remembered in order to be
carried out .
3- Reproduction of action: we must be able to carry out the behavior
that we observed.
4- Motivation : there must be some reason for carrying out the
• Observing someone being rewarded for behavior increases the
likelihood that the behavior will be performed .
• A cognitive form of learning
involving the mental
rearrangement or restructuring
of the elements in a problem to
achieve an understanding of
the problem and arrive a
solution .(Problem Solving)
• Insightful learning was
described by Wolfgang Kohler
in 1920s,based on retrieve
food and was offered as an
alternative to learning based
on conditioning. 1887-1967
• The field theory of behavior
was first developed by Kurt
Lewin named by analogy to a
theory of electricity and
• It emphasizes that behavior
does not depend on the
organism alone or the
environment alone , but on
what goes on between the two .
• (The interaction between the
:Genetical & Environmental
Types of Insight
• Robert Sternberg & Jant Davidson(1990s)
1-Selective encoding insights
To distinguish relevant from irrelevant information .
(Clinical Application: diagnostic examination )
2-Selective comparison insights
To distinguish the stored information which is relevant for
one’s purposes. (Clinical Application: differential
3-Selective combination insights
(Gathered the information available to formulate a solution .
(Clinical Application: Final diagnosis Treatment)