Learned Behavior: Imprinting, Habituation and Conditioning
- Track Progress
- 0:05 Learned Behavior
- 0:40 Classical & Operant Conditioning
- 2:41 Habituation, Insight & Imprinting
- 5:08 Lesson Summary
Ever wonder why it is easier to train your dog when you give him a treat every time he does something correct? In this lesson we will take a look at conditioning as well as several other forms of learned behavior.
Remember that behavior is a response to a stimulus. In the previous lesson we looked at innate behaviors, which are inherited and performed correctly the first time an organism is exposed to a stimulus. In this lesson we will focus on learned behaviors, which are acquired changes in behavior during one's lifetime. If you have taken a psychology course before, some of these learned behaviors, such as classical and operant conditioning, may sound familiar. Let's again take a look at Craig's day.
Classical & Operant Conditioning
Because of the phone call, Craig is now running late to work. He knows that if he drives very quickly he will make it to work on time. However, last time Craig did this, he got a speeding ticket. He does not want to get another ticket, so he decides to drive the speed limit and be a little late to work. He does this to avoid the punishment of a speeding ticket. This behavior is known as operant conditioning, which is a behavior learned through repeated practice to receive a reward or to avoid a punishment. In Craig's case, he is trying to avoid a punishment.
Again, if you've taken a psychology course, you may have heard of B.F. Skinner and his work with operant conditioning. Skinner would place animals such as pigeons or rats in a chamber that is known as a Skinner Box. Once the animal performed a specific task, such as pushing a lever, the animal would immediately receive a reward - generally food or water - or a punishment - generally a loud sound or small electric shock. Craig's desire to avoid getting a speeding ticket is operant conditioning, as he has learned to not repeat this behavior in order to avoid a punishment.
Habituation, Insight & Imprinting
Craig makes it to his meeting just in time. During the meeting, his boss assigns him a new project. It is similar to work that he has done before but not exactly the same. Craig uses his previous knowledge and applies it to a new situation in order to solve the problem. This is insight learning, which is the most complicated form of learned behavior. Insight learning is applying something already learned to a new situation without a period of trial and error. When Craig is given his new assignment, rather than having to try several things to solve the problem, he is able to complete his work successfully based on previous, similar knowledge. A prime example of insight learning is often seen in math problems. When you learn how to solve a math problem, you can then apply those concepts to a new, although slightly similar, problem successfully.
Learned behaviors are not known when an animal is born but can come about in a variety of ways. We first looked at classical conditioning, which involves associating a stimulus with a response such as that seen when Craig runs to answer his ringing phone. We then looked at operant conditioning when Craig decided not to speed because he had previously received a speeding ticket. Remember that this form of learning occurs through repeated practice to either receive a reward or to avoid a punishment.
Craig not reacting to the loud fire alarm next to his office illustrated habituation, which is a decrease of response to a stimulus after repeated exposure. We also looked at insight when Craig applied previous knowledge to a new situation. This is a complex form of learning and does not involve trial and error. Lastly, we looked at imprinting with the ducklings. Imprinting is when animals recognize and follow the first moving object they see - normally a parent. All learned behaviors can help an organism survive even though the behaviors may be learned in different ways.
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