Suede Trainers Red 2 LW Nike Runner Mens MD Associative learning occurs when you learn something based on a new stimulus. The most famous example is Ivan Pavlov's use of dogs to demonstrate that a stimulus, such as the ringing of a bell, leads to a reward, or food. Two types of associative learning exist: classical conditioning, such as in Pavlov's dog; and operant conditioning, or the use of reinforcement through rewards and punishments.
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Classical conditioning involves the use of a stimulus -- such as the bell in Pavlov's experiments -- that is paired with a reward, resulting in salivation in the expectation of receiving food. Over repeated trials, the conditioned stimulus causes learning. By contrast, repeated instances without the reward lead to extinction of the behavior. When the conditioned stimulus, the ringing of the bell, happens before the reward, the person or the animal has time to figure out that the bell ringing means something and learn or form an association.
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Operant conditioning, from psychologist B.F. Skinner's experiments, involves the use of a schedule of reinforcements, or rewards, and punishments until the behavior is learned. For instance, if the dog were to hear the bell and step on a lever, it would receive the dog biscuit, the reward. Alternatively, if the dog were to step on the lever when the bell doesn't ring and receive a shock -- a positive punishment -- that would shape a behavior in the opposite direction. A negative punishment, by contrast, would be to take away something, such as a biscuit, if the dog barks.
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- Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT Open Courseware, Discussion, Learning
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- B.F. Skinner Foundation: About B.F. Skinner
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