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Principles and Applications

Eighth Edition

Learning | Learning

July 2018 | 528 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Learning: Principles and Applications provides students a current, comprehensive, and engaging introduction to the psychology of learning. Praised for its easy-to-read style and presentation of important contributions of both human and nonhuman animal research, the text helps readers understand the process of learning with coverage of classic experiments, contemporary research, real-world examples, applications, chapter-opening vignettes, and critical thinking questions. The Eighth Edition features expanded sections on theories of conditioning, a streamlined organization through two separate chapters on memory storage and retrieval, and enhanced pedagogy to better connect the material to the everyday lives of students.

About the Author
Chapter 1. An Introduction to Learning
The Gift of Knowledge

A Definition of Learning






The Ethics of Conducting Research

Critical Thinking Questions

Key Terms

Chapter 2. The Modification of Instinctive Behavior
If Only This Time

The Instinctive Basis of Behavior

Habituation and Sensitization


Learning in the Aplysia Californica

Opponent-Process Theory

The Addictive Process

Critical Thinking Questions

Key Terms

Chapter 3. Principles and Applications of Pavlovian Conditioning
A Lingering Fear

Principles of Pavlovian Conditioning

Temporal Relationships Between the Conditioned Stimulus and the Unconditioned Stimulus

Conditions Affecting the Acquisition of a Conditioned Response

Extinction of the Conditioned Response

Other Inhibitory Processes

A Conditioned Response Without Conditioned Stimulus– Unconditioned Stimulus Pairings

Applications of Pavlovian Conditioning

Critical Thinking Questions

Key Terms

Chapter 4. Theories of Pavlovian Conditioning
He Never Saw It Coming

The Nature of the Conditioned Response

Stimulus-Substitution Theory

The Conditioning of an Opponent Response

Sometimes-Opponent-Process Theory

The Nature of the Pavlovian Conditioning Process

Rescorla–Wagner Associative Model

The Unconditioned Stimulus Preexposure Effect

The Potentiation of a Conditioned Response

The Conditioned Stimulus Preexposure Effect

The Cue Deflation Effect

The Importance of Within-Compound Associations

A Comparator Theory of Pavlovian Conditioning

Mackintosh’s Attentional View

The Retrospective Processing View

Critical Thinking Questions

Key Terms

Chapter 5. Principles and Applications of Appetitive Conditioning
A Loss of Control

The Legacy of B. F. Skinner

Instrumental and Operant Conditioning

Types of Reinforcement


Schedules of Reinforcement

How Readily Is an Instrumental or Operant Response Learned?

Extinction of an Instrumental or Operant Response

Partial Reinforcement and Resistance to Extinction

Contingency Management

Critical Thinking Questions

Key Terms

Chapter 6. Principles and Applications of Aversive Conditioning
A Good Spanking

Principles of Aversive Conditioning

Escape Conditioning

Vicious Circle Behavior

The Avoidance of Aversive Events


Types of Punishment

The Effectiveness of Punishment

The Negative Consequences of Punishment

Applications of Aversive Conditioning

The Ethical Use of Punishment

Critical Thinking Questions

Key Terms

Chapter 7. Theories of Appetitive and Aversive Conditioning
A Lack of Self-Control

The Nature of Reinforcement

Probability-Differential Theory

Application: The Use of Activity Reinforcement

Response Deprivation Theory

Principles of Behavioral Economics

The Pain of Failure

The Nature of Avoidance Learning

The Nature of Punishment

Critical Thinking Questions

Key Terms

Chapter 8. Biological Influences on Learning
A Nauseating Experience

Generality of the Laws of Learning

A Behavior Systems Approach

Animal Misbehavior

Schedule-Induced Behavior

Flavor Aversion Learning

Flavor Preference Learning


The Avoidance of Aversive Events

The Biology of Reinforcement

Critical Thinking Questions

Key Terms

Chapter 9. Traditional Learning Theories
The Oldies But Goodies

Traditional Learning Theories

Hull’s Associative Theory

An Evaluation of Associative Theory

Spence’s Acquired Motive Approach

Guthrie’s Contiguity View

An Evaluation of Contiguity Theory

Tolman’s Purposive Behaviorism

An Evaluation of Purposive Behaviorism

Critical Thinking Questions

Key Terms

Chapter 10. Stimulus Control of Behavior
A Disappointing Review

The Stimulus Generalization Process

Discrimination Learning

Behavioral Contrast

Occasion Setting

Hull–Spence Theory of Discrimination Learning

Errorless Discrimination Training

The Transposition Effect

Sutherland and Mackintosh’s Attentional View

Continuity Versus Noncontinuity

Critical Thinking Questions

Key Terms

Chapter 11. Cognitive Control of Behavior
The Insurmountable Barrier

Tolman’s Purposive Behaviorism

A Mental Representation of Events

The Importance of Habits

Learned Helplessness

Hopelessness Theory of Depression

The Neuroscience of Learned Helplessness

A Cognitive View of Phobic Behavior

Concept Learning

Critical Thinking Questions

Key Terms

Chapter 12. The Storage of Our Experiences
A Fleeting Experience

Measures of Memory

A Three-Stage View of Memory Storage

Sensory Register

Short-Term Store

A Rehearsal Systems Approach

Long-Term Store

The Neuroscience of Memory Storage

Critical Thinking Questions

Key Terms

Chapter 13. Memory Retrieval and Forgetting
A Look Into the Past

Memory Retrieval

How Quickly We Forget


Reconstruction of the Past

False Memory Syndrome

Motivated Forgetting

The Neuroscience of Memory Retrieval

Application: Mnemonics

Critical Thinking Questions

Key Terms

Author Index
Subject Index


Instructor Resource Site
Instructors! Visit the companion website to access the free password-protected resources that accompany Learning: Principles and Applications, Eighth Edition.
  • Microsoft® Word test bank contains 60 multiple choice, 15 true/false questions, and 5 essay questions for every chapter. The test bank provides a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert personalized questions to assess students’ progress and understanding.

  • Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides highlight essential content and features and offer complete flexibility in easily creating a multimedia presentation.

  • Lecture notes summarize key concepts on a chapter-by-chapter basis to help prepare for lectures and class discussions.

  • Lively and stimulating class assignments apply to individual or group projects and can be used in class to reinforce active learning.

  • All figures and tables from the text are provided in JPG format for class presentations.

“The text is very strong with respect to presenting competing theories of learning phenomena. It is one of the best I’ve read in this regard.”

Thomas J. Faulkenberry
Tarleton State University

“This text allows students to continually build up a foundation/knowledge base to help reinforce and increase their own self-paced understanding of the material.”

Lorenz S. Neuwirth
SUNY Old Westbury

“The text provides a thorough overview of classical research and pivotal studies that lay the foundation of several important theories. Brief vignettes at the beginning of each chapter are helpful in setting the stage for the chapter’s discussion in a relevant and approachable way, while also presenting a forum to reference back to throughout the chapter as information is expanded upon.”

Christine Caldwell
Springfield College
Key features


  • Learning objectives in each chapter provide students with goals for the chapter and serve as a guide to think critically and creatively about the ideas presented.
  • Enhanced pedagogy allows students to see the relevance of the material to their everyday lives, improving their overall understanding of the learning process.
  • Updated chapters on learning include new research and discoveries in the field, such as theories about reinforcement, biological processes that influence learning, and processes that influence memory retrieval.
  • Motivation sections highlight the important contributions learning processes play in motivating behavior, providing students an enhanced perspective.
  • Coverage of neuroscience includes detailed workings of neural systems in relation to behaviors that furthers students’ appreciation of the learning process. 


  • Curiosity-enhancing vignettes at the opening of each chapter help students understand the link between chapter content and their everyday lives.
  • Relevant Application Sections enrich the concepts presented in the text, showing students that the behaviors described are not just laboratory phenomena.
  • Scenario-based Critical Thinking Questions at the end of each chapter ask students to creatively apply one or more of the chapter’s major concepts to situations that they may encounter in the real world.
  • “Before You Go On” sections throughout the chapter ensure students understand the importance of the material and can apply the knowledge to difficult concepts.
  • Biographies and photographs of noted researchers provide important background on individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of learning.
  • Section reviews presented at key points in each chapter serve as a way for students to check their understanding of the material.

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