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Types of Learning Theories and Models Essay

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Updated: May 25th, 2019


The brain is by far the most complex organ in the human body. Its ability to receive, decipher, and store massive amounts of information is to say the least amazing. Over the years scientists and other medical practitioners have dedicated their time and resources into trying to understand how it works, what makes it work and how it relates and functions with other organs in the human physiology. As such, they have developed theories that indeed help divide it according to various parts and their functionality.

As a result, in-depth research has ensued as pertaining to how the brain processes our thoughts, assists in locomotion and most importantly how it helps us learn and actually retain knowledge and experience. An individual’s ability to learn and retain most of the knowledge greatly depends on the learning model adopted.

Using the case provided, this study shall focus on the creation and retention of memory as some of the core functions of the brain. Using documented proof, the discussion shall set to ascertain the fact that human memory does indeed comprise multiple cognitive systems as regarding to the different types of learning theories and models.

Every field of research must always have a main focus through which questions and answers for that particular study are structured and provided. This having being said, learning research evolves around the belief that there are different types of memory systems that are interconnected and interact with each other to provide a particular outcome.

Additionally, these systems are sub divided into those that handle long- term memories and those that are in charge of short- term memories. The task, hence, is not to define the mechanism of memorizing events and thing, but to explain why some events fail to be remembered by a person.

Learning models

Contrast and compare of learning models in relation to analyze the case

The process of learning implies memorizing and retaining events and models of behavior, which enables individuals to change and adjust to new conditions. With regard to the case studying the problems of memorizing and rejecting the experience, it is purposeful to study Freud’s regression theory of human behavior and Skinner’s theory of behavior science, particularly the study of reinforcement that shapes the occurrence of particular behavior patterns (Chance, 2008, p. 160).

Freudian theory of resurgence, or regression, is the recurrence of reinforced behavior that is attached to a tendency to use more primitive modes of behavior because the new ones turn out to be unacceptable in particular situations. In psychology, this learning mode takes place when the actions performed are removed from our consciousness to an unconscious state. Hence, if a particular model of behavior fails to be effective in a situation, it will continue to decrease in frequency.

This pattern of learning and behavior can be interpreted as a defense mechanism being a particular form of adjusting to a situation. Unlike Freud, Skinner insists on the fact that reinforcement, but not extinction, can also lead to a failure to adjust to new forms of behavior, if the reinforcement is negative (Chance, 2008, p. 157).

Apparently, negative experience stimulates the removal or even avoidance of an adverse event. Skinner’s theory is apposed to Freud’s position about the defense mechanism. In particular, reinforcement facilitates the frequencies of behavior whereas the process of extinction leads to a decrease in the behavior frequency.

Extinction makes an individual return to previously established patterns via the decrease of using new methods whereas reinforcement lies in strengthening the existing behavior pattern. In both cases, both reinforcement and extinction lead to a decline in a future probability of an occurrence of new models of behavior.

Analyzing the case under consideration, both theories explain the problem of memory loss, but differently. In particular, Maura’ problem is closely connected with reinforcement and extinction procedures serving as a defense mechanism. Memory loss, therefore, occurs when she encounters a negative experience and, on the contrary a negative experience occurs when she is disappointed by the relationships with her partner.

Such reactions and process are also associated with the specifics of memory systems that include patterns of perceptual learning, and emotional responses (Nevid, 2008, p. 189). In order to explain the problem, it is necessary to analyze the case from the viewpoint of memory organization.

Judging from the case, Maura repeats certain patterns of behavior due to the inability to adjust to new experience, or due to the ignorance of other models of behavior.

She refuses to remember previous behavior patterns because her episodic memory is unable to accumulate experience for constructing a successive chain of life episodes (Chance, 2008, p. 335). The reason for such disorganization can lie in Maura’s reluctance to endeavor negative experience once more.

Explaining the case problems with regard to a particular model

After considering both theories thoroughly, it is quite challenging to decide which learning mode explains best the case. In particular, Freudian theory of resurgence explains why Maura constantly returns to previous pattern of behavior and, in this respect, Maura’s loss of memory can be explained as her desire to return to initially established repetitive patterns and inability to switch from psychological form to another.

Skinner’s model also manages to provide an explanation to Maura’s losses of memory through reinforcement of negative experience.

Hence, when Maura finds out that her partner fails to make a greater romantic commitment, which is a negative condition for her, she tries to do everything possible to stop the influence of bad experience. In other words, loss of memory is strengthened by the consequence of avoiding hurt and disappointment in relations.

The above-presented considerations show that Skinner’s model is more consistent in explaining the mechanism of Maura’s action because it explains why she makes use of the same patterns and why she is unable to adjust to changes. Moreover, Skinner’s theory also explains why Maura resorts to the same actions.

Designing a Modification Program for a Patient Using Skinner’s Model

Due to the fact that Skinner’s theory of learning and behavior is based on using past patterns and consequences as the trigger of future actions, it is necessary to work out a modification plan that would impose change on initially established patterns of behavior that will enable Maura to employ new forms of learning.

A particular emphasis should be made on acquiring experience of past events and changing patterns in accordance with that experience. The starting point should be placed at the moment when Maura seeks to find a greater romantic commitment from her partner. This is the stage when it is necessary to introduce another factor impelling the patient to make other decisions.

According to Skinner, it is possible to shape another learning approaching by means other methods of reinforcement. For example, it would be purposeful to understand the reason why Maura choose a particular type of partners and why she wants them to be romantically oriented.

Considering Ethical Issues While Choosing a Modification Plan

Certainly, every aspect of psychological development of individuals must be considered with regard to ethical issues. In this respect, language is the core in designing a modification plan because it depends on cultural, social and, emotional acceptance of individuals’ actions (Wierzbicka, 1986, p. 593).

The assumption that human emotions are universal and they do not depend on cultures and, therefore, language should not affect psychological state of the patient under consideration. Aside from language consideration, it is also necessary to analyze morale with regard to psychology. In particular, a modification plan will take morality and human emotions in the deepest consideration to cognize Maura’s memory systems.


Learning and behavior are closely interconnected as learning is acquired through experience which shapes behavioral patterns. Inability to learn and gain experience leads to returning to repetitive patterns. In this study, I set out to explore life experiences of Maura and how various learning models can explain her predicaments.

In order to explain the reasons of the presented pathology, the presented modification plan has been based on Skinner’s theory of behavior disclosing the role of positive and negative reinforcements in shaping behavioral patterns.

Although both, Freudian and Skinner’s models have efficiently justified the cases, Maura’ problem will be solved with the help of the latter as memory loss is closely connected with negative reinforcement. In particular, the presented program will be aimed at shifting from using negative reinforcement to positive one.

Reference List

Chance, P. (2008). Learning and behavior: Active Learning Edition. US: Cengage Learning.

Nevid, J. S. (2008). Psychology: Concepts and Applications. US: Cengage Learning.

Wierzbicka, A. (1986). Human Emotions: Universal or Culture Specific? American Anthropologist. 88(3), pp. 584-594.

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