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Keywords:

  • Learning;
  • Conditioning;
  • Orienting behavior;
  • Research paradigms

ABSTRACT

Difficulties arising from failure to separate the concepts of orienting behavior, conditioning, and learning are discussed. The major reasons for ambiguity are lack of explicit definitions of terms and a tendency to overgeneralize from limited empirical demonstrations. Criteria are needed for differentiating learning, viewed generically, from conditioning, where learning is inferred from a specific stimulational arrangement. Because unlearned orienting behavior due to stimulus chaise may contribute to responses also involving learned behavior, the contribution of each needs to be assessed. At the same time, orienting behavior, as a class of behavior related to attention, may have learned as well as unlearned components. Confusion results from failure to specify assumed connotations in specific situations, as well as the experimental presuppositions involved in empirical definitions.

The two basic experimental paradigms for defining learning are discussed, the control groups arrangement and the control stimuli arrangement. Data are presented to reemphasize that different paradigms may lead to quite different laws. The research task is seen as the careful utilization of variations on the paradigms with special extensions and control considerations for increasing the explanatory power of tests of learning and orientation.