Language Acquisition: Skinner vs. Chomsky

In this video I introduce language acquisition as a type of learning that isn’t explained well by the behaviorist principles we saw in the unit on learning theory. In the next few videos we’ll be looking at linguistics and language acquisition in more detail and then considering how language relates to thought. We begin with Noam Chomsky’s review of B.F. …

Abstract Learning & Insight Learning

In this video I describe abstract learning and insight learning as types of learning that both require internal cognitive processing. Abstract learning demonstrates how mental concepts and categories relate to stimulus generalization while insight learning demonstrates the use of mental representations of the world rather than simple trial-and-error behavior learning and reinforcement. These types of learning, in addition to latent …

Latent Learning & Cognitive Maps

In this video I explain the concept of latent learning using two studies conducted by Edward Tolman and colleagues. Latent learning refers to learning that occurs without reinforcement and isn’t demonstrated until an opportunity arises. I also describe the idea of a cognitive map and how it supports the existence of internal mental representations. Don’t forget to subscribe to the …

Observational Learning: Bandura’s Bobo Doll Study

In this video I explain Albert Bandura’s famous “Bobo Doll” study on observational learning and aggressive behavior. In this study, adults modeled aggressive playing behaviors with a Bobo doll which were then performed by children who had simply observed the behaviors, revealing how observation can influence behavior. In later versions of the study, Bandura also demonstrated that the children’s behavior …

The Rescorla-Wagner Model

In this video I explain the basic idea behind the Rescorla-Wagner model or contingency model of classical conditioning proposed by Robert Rescorla and Allan Wagner. This model suggests that the reason Pavlov’s dogs associated the bell (rather than some other stimulus) with food was that it was salient and served as a reliable predictor of food. Don’t forget to subscribe …

Operant Boxes & Schedules of Reinforcement

In this video I describe the operant boxes used by Skinner (often called “Skinner boxes”) to study the relationship between different schedules of reinforcement and behavior. Then I describe 4 possible schedules of reinforcement including fixed-ratio, variable-ratio, fixed-interval, and variable-interval, as well as how random rewards created “superstitious” behaviors in pigeons. Don’t forget to subscribe to the channel to see …

Operant Conditioning

In this video I explain the difference between classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Next I explain Thorndike’s work with cats in puzzle boxes which led to his Law of Effect. This approach was greatly expanded by B.F. Skinner’s work on operant conditioning which distinguished primary and secondary reinforcers, as well as positive and negative reinforcement and positive and negative punishment. …

Operant Conditioning – Schedules of Reinforcement

By closely monitoring the occurrence of behaviors and the frequency of rewards, Skinner was able to look for patterns. Receiving a reward each time the lever is pressed would be an example of continuous reinforcement. But Skinner also wanted to know how behavior might change if the reward wasn’t always present. This is known as intermittent reinforcement (or partial reinforcement). …

Learning Theory Resources

On this page you’ll find a number of resources for understanding the key concepts of learning theory, including classical conditioning, operant conditioning, observational learning, and more. If I’ve missed a good resource, please share it in the comments section! General Resources Learning Theory Key Terms Learning Theory Pinterest Page OpenStax Learning Chapter Master Introductory Psychology Volume 2 (Amazon link) General …