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A Behavioral, Cognitive, and Evolutionary Synthesis


August 2015 | 608 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Learning: A Behavioral, Cognitive, and Evolutionary Synthesis provides an integrated account of the psychological processes involved in learning and conditioning and their influence on human behavior. With a skillful blend of behavioral, cognitive, and evolutionary themes, the text explores various types of learning as adaptive specialization that evolved through natural selection. Robust pedagogy and relevant examples bring concepts to life in this unique and accessible approach to the field.

Chapter 1: Where Learning Fits Into the Big Picture
What Is Knowledge?

How Can We Study Something We Cannot See?

Defining Various Kinds of Learning by Procedures and Phenomena

The Evolution of Learning

Learning Is an Adaptive Specialization

Learning Is Part of an Integrated System of Psychological Processes

Part I: Learning to Predict Important Events
Chapter 2: The Procedure and Phenomena We Call Pavlovian Conditioning
Procedures, Phenomena, and Processes

Why We Call It Pavlovian Conditioning

Conditioned Emotional Responses

Conditioned Drug Reactions

Conditioned Food Aversions

Sign-Tracking (Autoshaping)

Chapter 3: Pavlovian Conditioning Is an Inference Task
The Elements of Causal Inference

The Effects of CS-US Consistency in Pavlovian Conditioning

The Effects of Temporal and Spatial Contiguity on Pavlovian Conditioning

The Effects of Temporal Precedence on Pavlovian Conditioning

Chapter 4: Identifying the Predictors of Significant Events
The Salience of Stimuli

Salience and Prior Experience With Potential Conditioned Stimuli

Relative Validity in Pavlovian Conditioning

Surprise and Pavlovian Conditioning

A Mathematical Model of Pavlovian Conditioning Based on Both Salience and Surprise

Overshadowing, Relative Validty, and Blocking: Learning About the Other Stimulus

Chapter 5: The Representations of Knowledge in Pavlovian Conditioning
CS-US Associations: The Representation of Relationships in Pavlovian Conditioning

Transitive Inference and the Linking of Associations in Second-Order Conditioning

Conditioned Inhibition: Learning to Predict the Absence of the Unconditioned Stimulus

The Role of the Environmental Context in Pavlovian Conditioning

Representing the Temporal Relationships Between Events

Extinction Revisited

Chapter 6: From Knowledge to Behavior: The Forms and Functions of Conditioned Responses
Conditioned Responses: Deciding What to Measure

The Relationship Between Conditioned and Unconditioned Responses

Behavior Systems and Pavlovian Conditioning

The Functions of Pavlovian Conditioned Responses

Pavlovian Conditioning as an Adaptive Specialization

Part II: Learning About the Consequences of One’s Behavior
Chapter 7: The Procedures and Phenomena We Call Operant Conditioning
Procedures, Phenomena, and Processes

B. F. Skinner and Operant Conditioning

The Various Events That Can Serve as Reinforcers

The Various Events That Can Serve as Reinforcers

The Four Varieties of Operant Conditioning

Behavior Modification

The Differences Between Pavlovian Conditioning and Operant Conditioning

Chapter 8: How Individuals Adjust Their Behavior to Meet the Demands of the Situation
Operant Conditioning From Two Different Perspectives

The Functions of Reinforcers in Operant Conditioning

Adaptive Behavior by Hill-Climbing

Identifying the Operant in Operant Conditioning

Chapter 9: Adjusting to Schedules of Partial Reinforcement
Classifying Schedules of Reinforcement

Ratio Schedules

Interval Schedules

Explaining the Differences in Performance on Ratio and Interval Schedules of Reinforcement

The Effects of Prior Experience on How Individuals Adjust to Schedules of Reinforcement

Behavioral Persistence

Chapter 10: Life Is About Making Choices
Choice and the Empirical Matching Law

The Generalized Theoretical Matching Law

Why Matching Occurs

The Significance of the Matching Laws

Chapter 11: Inference and the Representations of Knowledge in Operant Conditioning
Operant Conditioning Is Also an Inference Task

The Representations of Knowledge in Operant Conditioning

The Role of the Stimulus in Operant Conditioning

Operant Behavior as Procedural Knowledge

Extinction Revisited

Chapter 12: The Similarities Between Operant Conditioning and Natural Selection
Sources of Behavioral Variation

The Mechanism of Selection in Operant Conditioning

Operant Conditioning as an Adaptive Specialization

Part III: The Social Transmission of Knowledge
Chapter 13: Social Learning
Learning Food Preferences From Others

Learning What to Fear Through Observational Conditioning

Learning What to Do by Observing Others

Transmission of Information About What to Do Through Directed Instruction

The Effects of Verbal Instructions on Human Behavior



Instructor Teaching Site

Calling all instructors!
It’s easy to log on to SAGE’s password-protected Instructor Teaching Site at for complete and protected access to all text-specific Instructor Resources for Learning: A Behavioral, Cognitive, and Evolutionary Synthesis by Jerome Frieman and Stephen Reilly. Simply provide your institutional information for verification and within 72 hours you’ll be able to use your login information for any SAGE title!

Password-protected Instructor Resources include the following:

  • A Microsoft® Word® test bank is available containing multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and essay questions for each chapter. The test bank provides you with a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity for editing any question and/or inserting your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • A Respondus electronic test bank is available and can be used on PCs. The test bank contains multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and essay questions for each chapter and provides you with a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity for editing any question and/or inserting your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding. Respondus is also compatible with many popular learning management systems so you can easily get your test questions into your online course.
  • Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides offer you complete flexibility in easily creating a multimedia presentation for your course.
  • An Instructor’s Manual helps you see the book's overall organization so that you can anticipate what comes next and what you need to emphasize in your classroom presentations. Important concepts are highlighted for you as they appear in the book, and their links to other chapters are noted; difficult concepts are also identified based on what students tend to find most challenging. The manual also includes overviews, chapter outlines, and key terms to assist with lecture preparation and review.
  • New discussion questions cover key concepts and issues appropriate for classroom discussion.
  • Lively and stimulating class assignments can be used in class to reinforce active learning. The activities apply to individual or group projects.
Student Study Site

Use the Student Study Site to get the most out of your course!
Our Student Study Site at is completely open-access and offers a wide range of additional features, including something no other publisher offers: SAGE Journal articles!

The open-access Student Study Site includes the following:

  • Mobile-friendly eFlashcards reinforce understanding of key terms and concepts that have been outlined in the chapters.
  • Mobile-friendly web quizzes allow for independent assessment of progress made in learning course material.
  • Each chapter includes video and multimedia links related to important topics and designed to supplement key points within the text.
  • Web resources are included for further research and insights.
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to certain full-text SAGE journal articles have been carefully selected for each chapter. Each article supports and expands on the concepts presented in the chapter. This feature also provides questions to focus and guide your interpretation.
  • Web exercises direct you to useful and current web resources, along with creative activities to extend and reinforce learning or allow for further research on important chapter topics. 

Dpt chose other Sage text (Klein)

Dr Elizabeth Fillion
Psychology, Montgomery College-Takoma Park
August 28, 2021

I like the text very much except it is extremely skewed toward Behavioral theory of learning. Very little is addressed with regard to other major learning theories. If I were teaching course on ABA's, I would consider using this text; however, I need to be able to teach students that there is more than just one theory out there.

Dr George Edward Humes
Psychology Dept, Kean University
September 3, 2016
Key features


  • The integration of themes identified in current research gives readers a holistic view of the mechanisms and processes discussed.
  • A focus on how experience is represented in memory and reflected in behavior provides a link between cognitive and methodological behavioral explanations of human behavior.
  • Experimental designs and the historical development of ideas and procedures are woven into the narrative.
  • Bolded terms with italicized definitions, all of which appear in a glossary, make it easy for students to understand the technical terms introduced.
  • Basic concepts, procedures, and phenomena associated with Pavlovian conditioning and operant conditioning are organized and presented on the inside front and back covers for easy reference.
  • Short summaries at the beginning of every section and sub-section give students previews of material to come.
  • Helpful boxes throughout on applications, concepts, and historical perspectives aid students in overall comprehension.
  • A set of study questions included at the end of each chapter gives students the opportunity to conduct self-evaluations of their understanding.
  • Free online resources for instructors and students serve as invaluable tools for teaching and learning.

Sage College Publishing

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