The Psychology of Learning

An Introduction from a Functional-Cognitive Perspective

by De Houwer, Hughes

ISBN: 9780262365086 | Copyright 2020

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An introduction to the psychology of learning that summarizes and integrates findings from both functional psychology and cognitive psychology.learning.

Learning unites all living creatures, from simple microbes to complex human beings. But what is learning? And how does it work? For over a century, psychologists have considered such questions. Behavior analysts examined the ways in which the environment shapes behavior, whereas cognitive scientists have sought to understand the mental processes that enable us to learn. This book offers an introduction to the psychology of learning that draws on the key findings and major insights from both functional (behavior analysis) and cognitive approaches.

After an introductory overview, the book reviews research showing how seemingly simple regularities in the environment lead to powerful changes in behavior, from habituation and classical conditioning to operant conditioning effects. It introduces the concept of complex learning and considers the idea that for verbal human beings even seemingly simple types of learning might qualify as instances of complex learning. Finally, it offers many examples of how psychological research on learning is being used to promote human well-being and alleviate such societal problems as climate change.

Throughout the book, boxed text extends the discussion of selected topics and “think it through” questions help readers gain deeper understanding of what they have read. The book can be used as an introductory textbook on the psychology of learning for both undergraduate and postgraduate students or as a reference for researchers who study behavior and thinking.

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Contents (pg. vii)
Preface (pg. xi)
Introduction: What Is Learning and How Can We Study It? (pg. 1)
0.1. What Is Learning? (pg. 3)
0.1.1. Learning as Ontogenetic Adaptation (pg. 3)
0.1.2. Difficulties in Applying the Definition of Learning (pg. 4)
0.2. What Are the Different Types of Learning? (pg. 6)
0.2.1. Types of Regularity in the Environment (pg. 6)
0.2.2. Types of Learning (pg. 8)
0.2.3. Difficulties in Determining Different Types of Learning (pg. 11)
0.3. A Functional-Cognitive Framework for the Psychology of Learning (pg. 12)
0.3.1. The Functional Approach within Learning Psychology (pg. 13)
0.3.2. The Cognitive Approach within the Psychology of Learning (pg. 20)
0.3.3. The Relation between the Functional and Cognitive Approaches in Learning Psychology (pg. 26)
0.4 Structure of the Book�������������������������������� (pg. 31)
1: Effects of Regularities in the Presence of a Single Stimulus (pg. 37)
1.1. Functional Knowledge (pg. 37)
1.1.1. The Nature of the Stimuli (pg. 39)
1.1.2. The Nature of the Observed Behavior (pg. 40)
1.1.3. Properties of the Organism (pg. 42)
1.1.4. The Impact of the Broader Context (pg. 42)
1.1.5. Characteristics of Noncontingent Stimulus Presentations (pg. 48)
1.2. Process Theories (pg. 49)
1.2.1. The Model of Sokolov and the Model of Bradley (pg. 50)
1.2.2. The Opponent-Process Model of Solomon (pg. 53)
2: Classical Conditioning: Effects of Regularities in the Presence of Multiple Stimuli (pg. 57)
2.1. Some Basic Terms and Procedures (pg. 57)
2.1.1. Basic Terms (pg. 57)
2.1.2. Procedures (pg. 59)
2.2. Functional Knowledge (pg. 61)
2.2.1. The Nature of the Stimuli (pg. 61)
2.2.2. The Nature of the Observed Behavior (pg. 66)
2.2.3. The Properties of the Organism (pg. 73)
2.2.4. The Influence of the Broader Context (pg. 76)
2.2.5. Characteristics of the CS-US Relation and Changes in Those Characteristics (pg. 77)
2.3. Mental Process Theories (pg. 92)
2.3.1. Associative Models (pg. 92)
2.3.2. Propositional Models (pg. 110)
3: Operant Conditioning: Effects of Regularities in the Presence of Stimuli and Behavior (pg. 117)
3.1. Some Basic Terms and Procedures (pg. 117)
3.1.1. Basic Terms (pg. 117)
3.1.2. Procedures (pg. 122)
3.2. Functional Knowledge (pg. 123)
3.2.1. The Nature of the Stimuli (pg. 123)
3.2.2. The Nature of the Observed Behavior (pg. 132)
3.2.3. The Properties of the Organism (pg. 137)
3.2.4. The Influence of the Broader Context (pg. 138)
3.2.5. The Nature of the Relation (pg. 141)
3.3. Mental Process Theories (pg. 166)
3.3.1. Associative Models (pg. 166)
3.3.2. Propositional Models (pg. 175)
4: Complex Forms of Learning: Joint Effects of Multiple Regularities (pg. 181)
4.1. Some Basic Terms and an Overview (pg. 181)
4.2. Functional Knowledge (pg. 182)
4.2.1. Two Types of Complex Learning (pg. 182)
4.2.2. Learning 2.0 (pg. 191)
4.3. Mental Process Theories (pg. 196)
5: Applied Learning Psychology: Using the Principles of Learning to Improve the Well-Being of Individuals, Groups, and Societies (pg. 199)
5.1. Introduction: From Experimentation to Application (pg. 199)
5.2. On the Relationship between Learning and Application (pg. 202)
5.3. The Functional Approach to Behavior Change (pg. 204)
5.3.1. Applied Behavior Analysis (pg. 204)
5.3.2. Testing the Effectiveness of ABA Interventions (pg. 206)
5.3.3. Training for Generalization (pg. 208)
5.4. Applied Learning Psychology: Shaping the Behavior of Individuals (pg. 208)
5.4.1. Developmental Disabilities (pg. 208)
5.4.2. Maladaptive (Clinical) Behaviors and Their Treatment (pg. 210)
5.4.3. Substance Abuse (pg. 214)
5.5. Applied Learning Psychology: From Individuals to Groups (pg. 216)
5.5.1. Nurturing Families (pg. 217)
5.5.2. Nurturing Schools (pg. 220)
5.6. Future Directions for Application (pg. 222)
5.7. Applied Cognitive Learning Psychology (pg. 228)
5.8. Psychological Engineering: A Functional-Cognitive Way Forward (pg. 229)
Reflections on the “Think It Through” Questions (pg. 233)
Glossary (pg. 247)
Notes (pg. 259)
References (pg. 267)
Index (pg. 297)

Jan De Houwer

Jan De Houwer is a Professor in the Department of Experimental-Clinical and Health Psychology at Ghent University.

Sean Hughes

Sean Hughes

Sean Hughes is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Experimental-Clinical and Health Psychology at Ghent University.

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