What is Learning Bahaviour? Thorpe defined learning as that process which manifests itself by adaptive changes in individual behaviour as a result of experience. Thorpe classified learning behaviour into six types:

  • Imprinting
  • Habituation
  • Conditioning or conditioned reflex type I
  • Operant conditioning or conditioned reflex type II
  • Latent learning
  • Insight learning.



Brief exposure of an organism to the stimulus with long lasting effect is called imprinting.
Explanation and Examples
It is best known in birds such as geese, ducks and chickens, which are all precocial birds Shortly after hatching, ducklings and other young  birds have a tendency to follow moving objects in their surroundings, They  show a brief sensitive period during which the shape or form of objects  can be imprinted, with the result that the young birds will follow them.

i. Spalding found that chicks, that are 2 or 3 days old, would follow any moving object.

ii. Lorenz described that the young of precocial birds (those that can walk at hatching and do not stay in the nest) form an attachment with a mother. At the time of hatching, they will become attached to almost any moving object and subsequently treat it as mother e.g. goslings.


Habituation is the simplest form of learning and involves modification of behaviour through a diminution of response to repeated stimuli.
Explanation and example
A loss of receptivity (accessibility) to repetitious (over aid over again) stimuli can be useful in preventing a drain of energy and attention for trivial purposes. For example;
i. A snail crawling on a sheet of glass retracts into its shell when a glass is tapped. After a pause, it emerges and continues moving. A  second tap causes retraction again but it emerges more quickly.   Ultimately tapping has no effect and snail ceases to respond.

ii. Rodents respond to alarm calls by others in their group, if these calls are continued and no danger is confirmed, further calls may be ignored.


Conditioning or conditioned reflex type I involves the pairing of an irrelevant stimulus within a natural primary stimulus that elicits an automatic response.

Explanation and example
Pavlov conditioned the dogs to secrete saliva on the ringing of the bell, which is not a normal stimulus for secretion of saliva. In his experiments, he would ring the bell just before giving food to the dogs, so the dogs became conditioned to a secondary stimulus or conditioned stimulus (ringing of a bell). and started secreting saliva in response to it. as. if it were the natural stimulus. This type of learning broadens the ability of an organism to react appropriately to environmental changes since the conditioning process removes dependence on one kind of reflex symbol for action.


Under natural conditions, the achievement of a particular goal is the reward that directs random activities into a behavioural pattern. Trial and error repetitions, step by step, lead to final achievement.
Explanation and example
Operant conditioning or conditioned reflex type Il (also called-trial and error learning) is a more complex type of learning than habituation. This type of learning has been demonstrated and studied by Thorndike and B.F. Skinner a Harvard psychologist.
Experiments on rats and cats were performed to run a maze to either get or find food, or to depress a lever and come out of the cage. In his case the first experiment is accidental and then it is rewarded, animal earns with latter experience.


Stimuli Thorpe or situations defined without latent patent learning (clear as or observable) the association reward of indifferent.
Explanation and example
Suppose we put a rat in a maze as it wanders about accidentally gets food – Did he learn anything before getting the food in the first reach experience the food. That If we means to put the when rat in the same rat was maze wandering, again, it may it did directly learn something without even the incentive of any reward.


Insight learning is an extreme case of behavioural modification involving the application of insight (nearby or within reach) or reasoning to a novel (new or unusual) situation.
Kohler performed many experiments on a chimpanzee and showed that they have a higher form of learning called insight learning. If an animal can direct its behaviour to solve a problem for which it has no previous experience then the reasoning is involved. Reasoning in humans appears to involve a recasting of an external’ situation in the imagination and a manipulation of the concepts to produce a solution that can be applied to situations. However such insight or reason may be found sin other primates. This is the highest form of learning,