Learning Theories and
their Clinical Applications-2
Prepared by: Dr.Maan A.Bari Qasem Saleh
Associate Prof. Depart. Of Psychiatry
Course of Behavioral Sciences
Faculty of Medicine
University of Dammam
Definition of Learning
• Learning is defined as relative
permanent change in behavior as a
result of experience , practice, or
• Conditioning is the process of
forming association .
Basic factors in learning
• Arousal No learning can take place
• Motivation Allows behavior to be elicited.
• Reinforcement A reward which increases
probability of a response in a particular situation.
• Association Implies a connection in time
and place between two events .
Stimuli (S) Responses (R)
Primary & Secondary Reinforcement
• Primary Reinforcement food , drink , sex
(satisfies an instinctual desire)
• Secondary Reinforcement have acquired
value and are not necessary for survival .
such as Grades , Money , Positions
occur when a reward or pleasant stimulus
is administered after some behavior has
been performed .
• For example , if a child cleans his room and
his parents reward him with extra spending
money , his behavior has been positively
• Refers to the removal of an unpleasant
stimulus after a certain behavior has been
• In this case , the avoidance or the
termination of the unpleasantness is the
reward or reinforcer .
• In other words Negative reinforcers are
anything a subject will work to avoid or
• A child's parents may forbid him to leave the
house until he cleans his room .
• If he cleans his room and is allowed out , his
behavior has been negatively reinforced ; the
unpleasant stimulus –-confinement to the
house-- has been removed .
• This reinforcement increases the likelihood
that the child will continue to clean his room
• Nagging behavior are examples of negative
reinforcement because we often will do
something( anything) to stop the nagging .
• For instance , a parent who buys a child a candy bar to
stop a child's nagging in the grocery store is
responding to negative reinforcement .
Effectiveness of reinforcement
• A reinforcers becomes less effective in
promoting future behavior , the longer
the delay between a behavior and its
• The declining effectiveness of
reinforcement with increasing delay is
called the gradient of reinforcement .
• Punishment is a technique used to decrease
the likelihood of particular response .
• Sending a man to jail for robbing a bank is an
example of punishment .
• Punishment then , is not effective in the long run
as means of control .
• Its use is made even more question-able by the
harmful side effects which accompany it.
What is generalization ?
• After an organism has learned a specific
response to a stimulus it will make this same
response to stimuli which are similar to the
original stimulus .
• The behavior we have learned in
response to honking cars is a
common example two car horns do
not make the same sound, but people
learn to respond similarly to all car
• In these cases, people respond to a
general class and not to a particular
What is discrimination?
• Discrimination is the inverse of stimulus
• In discrimination , the organism learns to
respond differently to similar stimuli .
• As in stimulus generalization , example
of discrimination are common in every
day life .
• Traffic lights are one good example .
• People learn to respond differently to
Red , Green , and Yellow light ; they
learn to discriminate .
• Habituation is one of the simplest
forms of learning and consists of
NOT making a response to
repetitively presented stimulus
• People who live near the railroad not
responding to the sounds of passing trains.
• Buying a new wall clock and habituating to the
noise it makes.
• Stimuli which lead to habituation are typically
low in intensity and repetitive.
• Habituation can occur to stimuli without those
characteristics as well (the mentioned
examples in previous slide).
• The appearance of conditioned response,
after either operant or pavlovian
conditioning, after it has been
• Let's say I condition (teach/train) a rat to press a lever
whenever I ring a bell.
• Then I teach the rat to press the lever when I flash a
light and not when I ring the bell.
• Once I've accomplished this, we can say that the first
conditioned response (pressing the lever when I ring
the bell) has been extinguished.
• But then one day, the rat starts to press the lever
when I ring the bell and not when I flash the light.
• In this situation, there was spontaneous recovery of
the response that was previously extinguished
Clinical Applications: Example-1
• When some one trying to quit drinking alcohol.
• When they return to the same situations where
they used to drink, they must battle
• That is why programs like Alcoholics
Anonymous try to prevent their members from
returning to their old haunts.
Clinical Applications Example-2
• A recently divorced couple visit each other.
• They may, through spontaneous recovery,
engage in an old conditioned response (e.g.,
lovemaking- or remarriage in Muslim
society), much to the chagrin of their new
Learned Helplessness (LH)
• Lack of motivation and failure to act after
exposure to unpleasant events or stimuli
over which the individual has no control.
(e.g., noise, crowding.)
• Individuals learn that they cannot control
their environment, and this may lead them
to fail to make use of any control options
that are available .
(APA Dictionary of Psychology-2007)
• Animals exposed to
inescapable electric shocks
may later fail to learn to
escape these shock in
situation when escape is
possible. (Overmier & Seligman, 1967)
Clinical Applications Examples of
The applied of LH to several areas of human behavior,
(1) Depression (Seligman, 1975-1976);
- Those who have experienced depression in the past are
more likely to accept depression in their future and
therefore less likely to attempt change.
(2) Elderly adults and old-age homes (Langer & Rodin, 1976);
(social isolation & dependency)
Clinical Applications Examples of Learned Helplessness
(3) Domestic violence and abusive
Those who have been unable to escape violent
situations in their homes are much more likely to
refuse help and accept future violence as
Tension reduction theory:1.tension building,2.the
acute battering incident 3. loving-contrition
This is true even when presented with real options
to avoid future violence.
Clinical Applications Examples of Learned
(4) Drug abuse and addiction:
• Quit smoking -If a person witnesses others try
and fail in their attempts to quit, they are less
likely to try themselves.
• The more you have witnessed failure either in
yourself or others, the less likely you are to
attempt change, even if the situation changes