This comprehensive survey describes the basic principles, theories, controversies and experiments in the field of learning. Focusing on both classic studies and recent developments and trends, it deals with how people and animals learn and how learning impacts behaviours. The emphasis throughout is on the importance of learning principles in everyday life.
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A best seller revision in animal learning. Mazur retains hisemphasis on operant learning. New material reflects the trendto include human subjects in several different areasincluding classical conditioning, rule-governed behavior,biological preparedness stimulus control, and others.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The purpose of this book is to introduce the reader to the branch of psychology that deals with how people and animals learn and how their behaviors are later changed as a result of this learning. This is a broad topic, for nearly all of our behaviors are influenced by prior learning experiences in some way. Because examples of learning and learned behaviors are so numerous, the goal of most psychologists in this field has been to discover general principles that are applicable to many different species and many different learning situations. What continues to impress and inspire me after many years in this field is that it is indeed possible to make such general statements about learning and behavior. This book describes some of the most important principles, theories, controversies, and experiments that have been produced by this branch of psychology in its first century.
This text is designed to be suitable for introductory or intermediate level courses in learning, conditioning, or the experimental analysis of behavior. No prior knowledge of psychology is assumed, but the reading may be a bit easier for those who have had a course in introductory psychology. Many of the concepts and theories in this field are fairly abstract, and to make them more concrete (and more relevant), I have included many real-world examples and analogies. In addition, most of the chapters include sections that describe how the theories and principles have been used in the applied field of behavior modification.
Roughly speaking, the book proceeds from the simple to the complex, both with respect to the difficulty of the material and the types of learning that are discussed. Chapter 1 discusses the nature of scientific theories and experiments, and it outlines the behavioral approach to learning and contrasts it with the cognitive approach. Chapter 2 first describes some of the earliest theories about the learning process, and then presents some basic findings about the physiological mechanisms of learning. Chapter 3 discusses innate behaviors and the simplest type of learning, habituation. Many of the terms and ideas introduced here reappear in later chapters on classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and motor skills learning.
The next two chapters deal with classical conditioning. Chapter 4 begins with basic principles and ends with some therapeutic applications. Chapter 5 describes more recent theoretical developments and experimental findings in this area. The next three chapters discuss the various facets of operant conditioning: Chapter 6 covers the basic principles and terminology of positive reinforcement, Chapter 7 covers schedules of reinforcement and applications, and Chapter 8 covers negative reinforcement and punishment. Chapters 9 and 10 have a more theoretical orientation (although many empirical findings are described here as well). Chapter 9 presents differing views on such fundamental questions as what constitutes a reinforcer and what conditions are necessary for learning to occur. Chapter 10 takes a more thorough look at generalization and discrimination than was possible in earlier chapters, and it also examines research on concept formation.
Chapter 11 surveys a wide range of findings in the rapidly growing area of comparative cognition. Chapters 12 and 13 discuss two types of learning that are given little or no emphasis in many texts on learning—observational learning and motor-skills learning. These chapters were included because a substantial portion of human learning involves either observation or the development of new motor skills. Readers might well be puzzled or disappointed (with some justification) with a text on learning that included no mention of these topics. Finally, Chapter 14 presents an overview of behavioral research on choice.
This fifth edition includes a number of changes, both to help students learn the material and to keep the information up to date. A glossary has been added so that readers can quickly find the definitions of key terms. Each chapter now includes references to a few Internet sites that provide further information or demonstrations of the concepts presented in the chapter. Each chapter has also been updated with new studies that reflect recent developments in the field. One trend in the field of learning seems to be the increasing use of human subjects in research on basic behavioral processes. This edition reflects this trend by including recent research with human subjects in several different areas, including classical conditioning, physiological mechanisms, rule-governed behavior, biological preparedness, stimulus control, and others.
I owe thanks to many people for their help in different aspects of the preparation of this book. Many of my thoughts about learning and about psychology in general were shaped by my discussions with the late Richard Herrnstein, my teacher, advisor, and friend. I am also grateful to several others who read portions of the book and gave me valuable feedback: Mark Branch, University of Florida; Gary Brosvic, Rider University; Valerie Farmer-Dougan, Illinois State University; Adam Goodie, University of Georgia; Kenneth P. Hillner, South Dakota State University; Peter Holland, Duke University; Ann Kelley, Harvard University; Kathleen McCartney, University of New Hampshire; David Mostofsky, Boston University; Thomas Moye, Coe College; Jack Nation, Texas A & M University; David Schaal, West Virginia University; James R. Sutterer, Syracuse University; E. A. Wasserman, University of Iowa; and Joseph Wister, Chatham College. In addition, I thank Marge Averill, Stan Averill, John Bailey, Chris Berry, Paul Carroll, David Coe, David Cook, Susan Herrnstein, Margaret Makepeace, Margaret Nygren, Steven Pratt, and James Roach for their competent and cheerful help on different editions of this book. I am also grateful for the assistance and advice provided by Jayme Heffler of Prentice Hall. Finally, I thank my wife, Laurie Averill, for her help on this edition. J. E. M.
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