Learning is one of the most crucial processes for human beings particularly when it comes to co-existence in the environment (Aslin, 2008). There are a number of ways through which learning can occur and result in the transformation of behavior. Psychologists define learning as a life long mental process endured by human beings through the acquisition of various forms of knowledge. The ultimate outcome of any meaningful learning is the acquisition of new knowledge, skills, abilities, value systems, and the development of new personal ways of relating with the environment (Aslin, 2008).
Habituation and conditioning are some of the simplest forms of learning. In situations where a given stimulus is incorporated in learning, it is known as stimulus learning. Meaningful stimulus learning occurs when behavior is transformed through the use of stimuli.
This essay discusses the simple stimulus learning. It explains the concept of habituation, analyzes the various factors which affect perceptual learning, and examines the effects of stimulus exposure. The essay also highlights the application of simple stimulus learning to real life situations.
According to prominent psychologists, stimulus learning is defined as the permanent transformation in behavior due to first hand experience by an individual (Postman, 2007). The change in behavior is the physical manifestation of the knowledge and skills acquired through learning. This presents a more objective way of finding out if meaningful learning has occurred. Behavior as a result of learning should be relatively permanent as opposed to behavior dynamics arising from emotional variations.
There are several forms of learning which have been identified by psychological theorists. Habituation is one of the simplest forms of knowledge acquisition. It results from continued exposure to a specified stimulus. Habituation follows a general pattern which involves the familiarization of a stimulus by an individual.
This process is achieved through rapid motivation or noise which in turn controls the individual’s thought process (Postman, 2007). Frequent exposure to a given stimulus will force an individual to become used to it to such an extent that it draws no attention.
For instance, if someone shifts to a home on a noisy road, the experience of automobiles passing by will be a major issue. However, being in the environment for some time will eventually lead to the noise being part of the day. The individual, therefore, becomes habituated to the surrounding such that attention to the busy road fades away. This form of learning helps individuals exist in an environment which is filled by vision and noises (Aslin, 2008).
Perception presents one of the most dominant means through which humans learn. Perceptual learning occurs as a result of constant practice as well as first hand experience. It causes a change in the collection of important information from the environment which in turn affects an individual’s actions (Adolph, 2007). It has also been noted that people learn through their actions as they interact with the environment. An individual’s desire to explore the environment facilitates perceptual learning to a great extent.
As one looks, listens, touches, walks as well as employ other forms of direct observation, he or she acquires knowledge, values, and skills through perceptual learning. Since perception involves fist hand encounter, it is useful in the acquisition of information that help in dealing with immediate objectives (Adolph, 2007). A number of factors have been known to affect perceptual learning.
Experience has been picked out as one of the major factosr that affect perceptual learning and development (Adolph, 2007). The length of time to which one is exposed to a given stimulus determines the extent or degree to which learning may occur. Experience has been linked with age and the timing of when an individual is exposed to it affects the effectiveness of the learning process. Another factor that plays a central role in perceptual learning is the ‘constancy’ of perception.
Variations in lighting intensity of the object and the relative positioning of the perceiver greatly affects the energy that facilitates the perception of a given object. Perceptual learning and development enables individuals understand that objects and situations remain unchanged despite the variations in some sensory inputs (Adolph, 2007).
A number of psychological researchers have explored the factors that affect the different forms of learning. Prior exposure to particular stimulus has been found to affect the rate of learning in individuals (Postman, 2007). This is because an individual can be able to associate the different stimuli. Exposure, according to research findings, has been known to enhance predictability of given actions or stimuli and hence shapes behavior.
Individuals interact with the environment through the various forms of learning and hence can influence as much as they are influenced by their surroundings. Simple stimulus learning has several real life applications. Living in a noisy neighborhood will eventually lead to co-existence when the response to the stimulus fades away through habituation.
The essay has elaborated the concept of simple stimulus learning and habituation as one of the simplest form of learning. The various factors affecting perceptual learning have been analyzed. The ways in which exposure to stimulus influences the learning process have also been discussed. Moreover, the paper has highlighted the applications of simple stimulus learning to real life situations. Stimulus learning, therefore, is one of the most critical means of acquiring knowledge and skills which facilitate meaningful living.
Adolph, M. R. (2007). Perceptual learning and development in infants. McGraw Hill Plc. Aslin, R. P. (2008). Learning and stimulus response: an analysis. Berkeley Press
Postman, G. L. (2007). “Understanding stimulus learning.” Psychological Review Journal, 64 (3):426-437