Behavioral Learning Principles

Write a 2–3 page paper in which you explain how you would apply behavioral learning principles to create a plan designed to help someone (perhaps yourself) successfully reach a specific goal. Learning plans are often requested of a psychologist, to help someone learn new behaviors. For this assessment, you will be applying the behavioral principles in operant conditioning to a real-world scenario, to help yourself or someone else to achieve a goal.By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and assessment criteria:

  • Competency 1: Apply foundational theories in psychology to current issues in the field of psychology.
    • Explain how operant conditioning principles are relevant to changing behavior.
  • Competency 2: Describe scientific research methods presented in scholarly psychology literature.
    • Describe scholarly research on how operant conditioning can be used to change behavior.
  • Competency 3: Apply research findings from scholarly literature to current issues in the field of psychology.
    • Apply operant conditioning principles to shaping and reinforcing specific behaviors.
  • Competency 5: Communicate in a manner that is scholarly, professional, and consistent with expectations for professionals in the field of psychology.
    • Write coherently to support a central idea with correct grammar, usage, and mechanics, as expected of a psychology professional.
    • Use current APA format and style.

Behavioral Learning Principles

Human beings are remarkably resilient and adaptable because of our great capacity for learning in numerous ways.



If you know that you will get a large bonus from your boss if you accomplish some very specific goals, how hard will you work to achieve those goals? How do you feel when you are being punished? Does it really change the behavior, or does it just make you better at avoiding being caught at it? Reinforcement is one of the most powerful tools that we have, yet we rarely apply its principles in our life situations.


Experience is an extremely important aspect of learning. If you go out on a date and have a great time, the next time you see that person you will want to be with that person again. On the other hand, if you touch a hot stove and burn yourself, you will stay away from hot stoves in the future. Experience has given you connections that you store in your memory and utilize later to make decisions and choices about your behavior.

Associations and Observations

We also learn by association. If we have a great time every time we go to McDonald’s, we learn to associate McDonald’s with a good time. If we get something out of it every time we interact with a certain teacher, we learn that the teacher is a positive influence on us. If we get hurt every time we play ice hockey, we learn that hockey can be dangerous.

Children observe a TV show and attempt behaviors they see on the show. We learn by practice, we learn by reading and memorizing, and we learn by observation.

Suggested Resources

The resources provided here are optional and support the assessment. They provide helpful information about the topics. You may use other resources of your choice to prepare for this assessment; however, you will need to ensure that they are appropriate, credible, and valid. The PSYC-FP1000 Library Guide can help direct your research. The Supplemental Resources and Research Resources, both linked from the left navigation menu in your courseroom, provide additional resources to help support you.

Key Theories in Human Development

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