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Principles and Applications

Eighth Edition
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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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