13 Conditioning and Learning

Experimental Psychology


  1. Ralph R. Miller PhD1,
  2. Randolph C. Grace PhD2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop204013

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Miller, R. R. and Grace, R. C. 2012. Conditioning and Learning . Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 4:V:13.

Author Information

  1. 1

    SUNY-Binghamton, Department of Psychology, Binghamton, NY

  2. 2

    University of Canterbury, Department of Psychology, Christchurch, New Zealand

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


Conditioning and learning are the means by which organisms modify their behavior in response to changes in the environment. These changes occur within the lifespan of the organism, in contrast to conventional evolution, which supports behavioral changes across generations in response to changes in the environment. The central phenomena of Pavlovian conditioning and instrumental learning are described, followed by a review of the major theoretical accounts of these phenomena. Questions addressed include the nature of event representation and how representations for events get linked, the centrality of spatiotemporal contiguity and contingency, the other variables that influence the effectiveness of forming associative links, the potential interaction of multiple cues, the similarity of basic learning across tasks and across species, the benefit of practice at retrieving memories, and the functional value of Pavlovian and instrumental responding.


  • acquired behavior;
  • associative learning;
  • instrumental behavior;
  • operant behavior;
  • Pavlovian conditioning