Classical conditioning is also referred to as learning by association. A stimulus that results in an emotional response is repeated alongside another stimulus that does not evoke an emotional response. After repeated attempts the second stimulus eventually results into an emotional response similar to that caused by the first response. Naturally humans unconditionally respond to certain stimuli. For example a sudden loud bang (unconditional stimulus US) will make people flinch (unconditional response UR). If a movement such as waving hands or clapping (conditional stimulus CS) is done at the same time or before the loud bang then people will learn to flinch when the movement is made without necessarily hearing the loud bang (conditional response CR).
Operant conditioning is different from conditional response because it forms an association between behavior and consequence. It is also known as response stimulus conditioning where consequences are linked to the behavior. For instance the possibility of receiving an award results to an increase in behavior while the prospect of getting a punishment will decrease behavior. For example students will strive to perform well in order to earn rewards which their teachers or parents have promised. On the other hand punishment will prevent them from performing certain behavior.
Observational learning is also known as the social learning theory. Observational learning occurs when behavior is changed after viewing information displayed by models. This information can be conveyed or relayed verbally, textually or through actions such as watching television and movies. The observer imitates the behavior of the model and characteristics such as intelligence and good looks. If the behavior of the model is rewarded the observer will display similar behavior. On the other hand if it is punished the observer will not reproduce the behavior. Observational learning involves four separate stages which include attention, retention, production and motivation.
Schedules of reinforcement determine when the behavior is reinforced. Reinforcement could either be continuous or partial. Ratio version schedule of reinforcement involves rewarding the behavior after it is demonstrated a fixed number of times. Interval version involves reinforcing the behavior after it has been demonstrated for a set period of time. Fixed-Interval schedule involves reinforcing a behavior after a fixed amount of time elapses between the previous and subsequent reinforcement. Fixed-ratio schedule requires one to reinforce behavior after a predetermined number of correct responses. Variable-ratio schedule involves reinforcing behavior after it is demonstrated correctly for a variable number of times.