What is learned from behavioral psychology

What is learning


Tell me - I'll forget!
Explain it to me - I will remember!
Let me do it - I will understand!

Learn is a frequently used term. Often you stumble across it, but most of the time we associate this word with school or training. But what is 'learning'? The acquisition of theoretical knowledge is certainly one of them, as well as the acquisition of motor skills.
The everyday usage of the word 'learning' primarily aims in the direction of 'learning content'. Contents include, among other things, knowledge, abilities, skills and attitudes.
In addition to content, other processes can also play a role in learning. In the definition presented later
"Learning means a change in experience and behavior based on individual experiences in or with the environment"
there is talk of change, whereby a change is not just about learning content. A change in behavior can also come about through learning processes in which unlearning or even problem-solving processes are the focus.

Learning affects us every day and in pretty much every situation. For example, I want to go to the fridge to get a drink. Since I hurt my foot, I have to rely on my walking aids (also called 'crutches'). Based on my previous experience, I know exactly how to use this device in order to get to the refrigerator and back as painlessly as possible.
I therefore have learned and draw the appropriate conclusions from my experience.

On closer inspection it quickly becomes clear how often we do in reality learn or how often we on Learned To fall back on:
- Do you have special (not innate) skills? (e.g. handling a knife and fork? driving a car? writing? speaking? ...)
- Do you have a hobby?
- Are you afraid?
- Can you find your way in society or integrate?
- You change your behavior because of experience? (e.g. get up earlier on Mondays because there is more traffic?)

In the most diverse fields of work, it is necessary to have a sound knowledge of learning psychology: when relearning deviant behavior (excursus: psychotherapeutic procedures), in the upbringing of children and young people (e.g. in kindergarten or homes), or in adult education (e.g. Advanced training). Even business administration has discovered the concept of learning for itself.

Upbringing, change, manipulation, knowledge acquisition, attitude, experience, insight - all of these terms are based on learning processes.

 What is learning

"One of the tasks of the learning psychologist is to uncover those conditions that lead to a change in behavior." Rent (1998 b, 159)

Definition of the term 'learning'

"The word" learning "goes back to the Gothic term for" I know "(lais) and the Indo-European word for" go "(lis) (Wasserzieher, 1974). The origin of the word already suggests that learning is a process is where you walk a path and thereby come to knowledge. " Mielke (2001, 11)

„Learn. In the history of the evening Thinking, two (competing) views of L. were formed relatively early on. For Plato, L. means remembrance, namely of the ideas that the soul always carries within itself and that are reactivated on the occasion of concrete sensory impressions. ... For Aristotle the soul is a tabula rasa (an empty board) on which sensory impressions are entered; Seen in this way, L. means the recording and storage of sensory data. This view can be traced via Locke, Hume, English empiricism, behaviorism to current conditioning theories ”Böhm (2000, 342).

Learning: "the acquisition of knowledge and skills or the imprinting in the memory. The L. includes above all the process of arriving at attitudes and behaviors over the course of time through experiences, insights, etc., those of consciousness and awareness are intended. " LexiROM (1999)

“By learning we mean all processes in an organism that cannot be directly observed, especially in its central nervous system (brain), which are caused by experience (but not by maturation, fatigue, drugs, etc.) and are a relatively permanent change or change “Krüger & Helsper (2002, 97).

Learning: "Changes in behavior and possibilities resulting from experience, which enable organisms to react appropriately to the situation on the basis of previous and further experiences. [...] Human L. is a predominantly insightful, active, socially mediated acquisition of knowledge." Meyers Lexikonverlag (1997, 529)

"Rather, the process of learning is fundamental to any type of actual adaptation that forms as a result of experience." Krech & Crutchfield (1992, Volume 3, p. 7)

According to Zimbardo, "learning can be defined as a process that leads to relatively stable changes in behavior or behavioral potential and is based on experience." Zimbardo (1992, 227)

"Learning is the process that leads to a relatively stable change in stimulus-response relationships; it is a consequence of the interaction of the organism with its environment through its sense organs." Zimbardo & Gerrig (1999, 229)

"Learning can be seen in the improvements in performance." Zimbardo (1992, 227)

"Learning is understood to mean the hypothetical processes that correspond to changes in behavior through experience." Langfeldt (1996, 102)

"Learning is the absorption, processing and implementation of information. Learning is a lifelong process." Schilling (1997, 159)

"Under Learn we understand the acquisition, change or dismantling of modes of experience and behavior through certain environmental experiences. "Schmitt (1999 a, 1)

"Learning encompasses all changes in behavior that arise on the basis of experience. Such changes include not only the acquisition of new information, but also changes in behavior, the causes of which are unknown. On the other hand, changes are excluded in this definition that are due to maturation processes (genetically predetermined changes), artificial chemical changes such as e.g. B. consequences of taking drugs, or temporary changes, e.g. B. by fatigue. "Lefrancois (1994, 3 f)

"Learning is the process by which an activity arises or is changed as a result of the organism's reactions to an environmental situation. However, this only applies if the type of change in activity is not based on innate reaction tendencies, maturation or temporary organic states ( e.g. fatigue, drugs, etc.) can be explained. " Hilgard & Bower (1973, 16)

"Some definitions of learning bypass performance-related problems by viewing learning as a change in the central nervous system." Hilgard & Bower (1973, 19)

"Apparently we learn some skills blindly and automatically, while we have to struggle hard to understand some situations in order to finally be able to master them." Hilgard & Bower (1973, 22)

"In our modern society [...] learning processes take place in two main forms:
a) through active participation in the life of social communities (family, friends, peers);
b) Through targeted interventions by adult professional educators (kindergarten teachers, teachers, social educators, leisure educators) ”Giesecke (2001, 14).

 Definition of 'learning'
Learning describes the process of acquiring experiences and behaviors that come about through interaction with the environment.
Learning can also lead to the suppression or changes in experience and behavior, if these do not bring satisfaction (of any kind).

In short: learning means a change in experience and behavior based on individual experiences in or with the environment.


Figure: Forgetting curve according to Ebbinghaus


Definition of the term 'learning theories'

"The theories developed by psychology for the systematic explanation of non-observable learning processes are learning theories, often also called behavioral theories." Hobmair (1996, 135)

"Learning theories (or behavior theories) are attempts to systematize and summarize knowledge about learning." Lefrancois (1994, 8)

The term learning theoryn The pluralism of theories can already be recognized: There is no general learning theory, but different approaches, which are presented in the following.


 Types of learning

Learning theories can be divided into two main groups:

"The main difference between the cognitive and the behavioristic approach is that the cognitive psychologists do not attach any importance to stimuli and reactions, but rather deal with organizational processes, information processing and decision-making processes." Lefrancois (1994, 15)