Language and Learning: An Experimental Paradigm
There is no mystery as to how either human beings or lower organisms learn the “meanings” of events (“signals”) which regularly precede other events. The principle here involved is associative learning or “conditioning.” And it is equally understandable how it is that lower animals make certain stereotyped signals (gestural, auditory, visual, olfactory); they do so reflexly, automatically, instinctively, given the appropriate stimulus circumstances. But the signals which human beings most often use are sound-producing responses called words, which are not at all reflexive, but conventional, that is, learned, as a function of the particular system of words, or language, which the infant hears in use around him.
KeywordsConditioned Stimulus Unconditioned Stimulus Electric Shock Associative Learning Experimental Paradigm
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