In this paper, we address the concept of Simple Stimulus Learning which is simply a change in behavior that occurs after a certain individual has gone though an experience. With examples from everyday lives, stimulus and response relationship will be elucidated.
We will also be taking a close look at the notion of Habituation that is simply defined by the state of an individual where by he or she is used to a certain aspect of their lifestyle be it personal or professional.
Perceptual learning that results in a drastic change in the human behavior and its benefits will be discussed as well as the decrements that come with Stimulus learning.
Simple Stimulus is a very common phenomenon that occurs in every day lives on a daily basis. This is something that often occurs as a result of any experience that a certain individual goes through. This is something each of us witness as we grow up, graduate, find a new job, get married, have children, take a family vacation, marry off kids or even at retirement.
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All of these and many other certain spots in our lives, act as a stimulus, anything or anyone that arouses a certain activity or action. Now, this stimulus can cause a change in the activity, action or behavior that may last for a few hours, to several days or even for life.
When we specifically talk about Stimulus Learning it is defined to be a permanent change in behavior after a definite occurrence. This often happens when a person is subjected to a certain stimulus incorporated in the learning process. This is not a one-sided effect, stimulus learning only works when the individual and the stimulus work in harmony, meaning they both are compatible and running smoothly. This may sound like a relationship which is true indeed, in order for the Stimulus Learning to function and manipulate behavior, the response has to counteract as well. Thus this forms a stimulus-response relationship which needs the proper time to generate an action and the correct response by the individual to act accordingly.
Simple Stimulus Learning
Simple Stimulus Learning has various forms including Habituation and Conditioning. Habituation is an occurrence that happens too many of us in the common ordinary life. It is said to be something or someone you are now habituated or in simple terms “used too” that was previously not acceptable to you. When a person is run through the same position, again and again, he or she becomes habituated to those specific conditions. This may be sometimes after a great deal of resistance to that change or even by simple heart acceptance.
We will now look at a few examples to get a personalized point of view of how this Habituation occurs and penetrates the adaptation of a human being. First, we will look at a personal example that occurred almost two years ago. I have been an animal lover since I can remember, living with 4 Dogs and 19 Puppies, 25 Birds and 2 Rabbits meant I has no animal issues. Soon, everything would be changed; on my way to the University I encountered a pack of four ferocious dogs, being a dog person I knew to stand in place was the right thing to do. The dogs were approaching me fast, in such a situation my mind went blank, and I started screaming and ran in the opposite direction. The Dogs ran after me barking, I fell onto a rocky portion and the Dogs were an inch near me when a University Guard chased them off. With my bleeding hands and broken ankle, I was rushed to the emergency room. From that day on I’m terrified of dogs, my heart starts beating faster even If I hear a bark at a distance. This was an example of a simple stimulus behavior change that occurred after a terrible experience. When talking about specifical habituation, we can talk about the house that is situated on a busy and noisy highway; people inhabiting the house at first are annoyed by the constant traffic sound but soon will find they accustomed to the noise and will no longer remember to even notice the heavy noise pollution.
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There are many factors that lead to such habituation; one of them can be the un-expected horrid conditions like four ferocious dogs chasing after you or perhaps certain encumbrances like may be the family who is forced to survive in that dinghy old house by the clattering highway because they cannot afford to move to another location. We can assume that the family may also be trying to become accustomed to the location because it is an ancestral property and they refuse to sell it.
Many other factors contribute to habituation, perhaps a daily routine that you simply cannot change and with each passing day you habituate yourself to those conditions, let’s say for example, the smoke from your partner’s cigarette. He refuses to stop smoking and you cannot possibly imagine leaving him. Perhaps a mother who has accepted the distance from her husband as he is working in a far away country so he can support his family.
One can say that Habituation is potentially adaptive because, in most of the situations, there is no other out. For instance, the physiological tolerance to a medicine/drug from repeated administration. Sometimes, Habituation can be of a sensory type, where an animal responds to an often repeated stimulus like Prairie dogs, Cynomys ludovicianus, give alarm calls when snakes, large birds or mammals approach or enter their surrounding (Animal Behavior Online, 2001).
This gives rise to another concept of Perceptual Learning which occurs in human beings after repeated exposure to specific stimuli resulting in lifelong changes. This process comprises of many steps that one undergoes to portray one such important and drastic change. These mechanisms include attention weighting, imprinting, differentiation, and unitization (Perceptual Learning, 2010).
A very good example of perceptual learning can be seen in Science students who can make out the entire apparatus set up for a certain experiment just by reading the Experiment Objective or Mathematics students who can perceive graphs, curves, tabulations, shapes etc. Such qualities emerge after the individual faces the similar challenges every day and gains expertise in different aspects of everyday life, academics and work. These changes can enlighten the effect produced by stimulus exposure (Fahle, 2002, p.154).
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When talking about the residents of a house on a busy highway we can see affects of habituation, when dealing with repeated doses of the same drug one can see the results of conditioning and in the last the amazing perception of science students is developed through perceptual learning.
With Stimulus Learning come benefits that usually last for many years and perhaps for lifelong. Let’s say a person is habituated to heavy noise since childhood will not find hard to work in a factory that is engaged in Car Assembly or any other noisy assembly line. There are is also another side to this picture; one cannot always say that Stimulus Learning is beneficial. Repeated amounts of the same drug being administered into the patient, will no longer prove to be advantageous to the immune system. Imagine, being diverted from your lecture every time, someone ran in the corridor or someone hammered the bulletin board. Stimulus learning helps in a number of ways including how to respond to a novel stimulus that may pose a danger to us and ignore the stimuli that occur everyday and are harmless.