Learning is a key process- some would say the key process- human behavior; it pervades everything we do and think. It plays a central role in the language we speak, our customs, our attitudes and beliefs, our goals, our personality traits (both adaptive and maladaptive), and even our perceptions. Having mastered its fundamental principles, you will be in a position to understand learning plays its important role in many of the psychological processes described later in the text.
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Muhammad Nazmul Haq
Learning can be defined as any relatively permanent change behavior that occurs as a result of practice or experience. This definition has three important elements.

  1. Learning is a change in behavior, for better or worse.

  1. It is a change that takes place through practice or experience changes due to growth or maturation are not learning.

  1. Before it can be called learning, the change must be relatively permanent; it must last a fairly long time. Exactly how long can be specified, but we usually think of learned changes in behavior as  lasting for days, months, or years, unlike the temporary behavioral effects of factors such as alertness or fatigue.

Think about yourself and learning. You are reading this page; you will learn something about psychology from it, but this learning is a small part of the learning you have done in your life. When you got up this morning, you dressed in a certain way, you ate certain things for (and did not eat others), and you began to think about the day ahead of you. Thinking invoked your attitudes about other people or events; perhaps it caused you to worry about something. How you dressed, what you ate, what you thought about, how you evaluated other people; events, what you worried about-are all rooted in your past experience, or past learning. If we could understand the learning process and apply our general understanding of it to a particular person's life, we would go a long way toward explaining many of the things that person does. If we could understand some of the principles of learning, we would have a better idea of how to change behavior when (as in child rearing and psycho-therapy) we want to change it.


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