Conditioning can be defined as the arrangement of two or more incidences characterized experimentally via separate chronological relationship. Learning takes place at the behavioral, cognitive and neural levels with four crucial phenomena that are caused by conditioning (Kalat, 2011). This paper seeks to explain the meaning of these phenomena and show how they would exhibit themselves in human beings.
The four basic learning phenomena that take place due to conditioning are acquisition, extinction, generalization, and discrimination (Kalat, 2011). Acquisition refers to the advancement of a conditioned reply consequent to conditioned stimulus (CS) and unconditioned stimulus (US) experiments (Kalat, 2011). Extinction on the other hand, is the staging of a particular formerly conditioned stimulus in deficiency of the unconditioned stimulus, which diminishes the formerly displayed conditioned response (Kalat,2011) Generalization is a phenomenon that takes place if, after a certain conditioned stimulus has appeared to extract a conditioned response, an additional test stimulus extracts a similar conditioned response (Kalat,2011) Lastly, discrimination is a learning phenomenon which takes place when a single stimulus extracts one conditioned response and another stimulus extracts either another conditioned response(CR) or no CR at all (Kalat,2011)
Acquisition can be seen to be present in humans for example when one happens to dislikes certain tastes. Extinction can be present in humans when a condition that initially led to reinforcement no longer produces reinforcement (Kalat, 2011) if the aroma of food had been combined with the sound of a bell in school for example, it would induce hunger in a student. If the conditioned stimulus (the bell) is no longer combined with the sound of a bell then the hunger would ultimately die out. Generalization, takes place in humans when an individual reacts similarly to dissimilar magnitudes like color, size, shape and sound (Kalat,2011) Lastly, an example of discrimination in humans is when an individual chooses to tell a story to comrades at a party rather than a church congregation.
How does generalization differ from discrimination?
Discrimination and generalization are behavioral progressions that mutually produce abstract behavior. Discrimination occurs when dissimilar conditions produce dissimilar responses depending on the levels of reinforcement (Mostofsky, 1965). Generalization on the other hand takes place when such dissimilar conditions are unable to generate discriminative operant results (Mostofsky, 1965)
Kalat, J. W. (2011). Introduction to psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Mostofsky, D. I. (1965). Stimulus generalization. Standford, Calif: Stanford University Press.