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Stage 2 Psychology
Learning Practice Test

NAME: Suggested Answers

The test consists of two sections:




1. Bentley the dog loves to chew and eat cardboard. He especially loves the cardboard cylinders from
paper towel rolls, and always salivates heavily when he is eating them. Bentley’s owner, Claire,
puts the cardboard cylinders into the plastic recycling tub, which is behind the pantry door in the
kitchen. Claire has started to notice that whenever Bentley hears the pantry door opening, Bentley
starts to salivate, even when he is not chewing and eating any cardboard cylinders.

a. In this scenario, identify the:

i. Unconditioned stimulus: Cardboard cylinders (1 mark)

ii. Unconditioned response: Salivating (1 mark)

ii. Conditioned stimulus: Sound of pantry door (1 mark)

iii. Conditioned response: Salivating (1 mark)

b. Bentley’s owner Claire has several doors in her house. Bentley only salivates to the pantry door
opening, and no other door in the house.

Explain how stimulus discrimination is illustrated in this example.

Bentley only salivating to the pantry door demonstrates stimulus
discrimination because his conditioned response of salivating only occurs
with the original conditioned stimulus of the pantry door, and no other
similar stimulus of other sounds of opening doors in the house. Bentley is
able to discriminate between other similar stimuli and the pantry door, and
only elicits the CR to the original CS.

(2 marks)

c. After 3 months, Claire is no longer putting the cardboard cylinders in the recycling bin in the
pantry, instead taking them outside to the exterior bin. As a result, Bentley no longer salivates
when he hears the pantry door being opened.

State the name of this effect.


(1 marks)

2. Explain the importance of contiguity in classical conditioning.

Contiguity is the timing involved in classical conditioning. It is important as

otherwise the association between the NS and UCS will not be made.
Contiguity in classical conditioning states that the ideal timing between the
presentation of the NS and UCS is 0.5 seconds.

(2 marks)
3. Using your own example, describe punishment.
Punishment is a stimulus or event that decreases the frequency of an
undesired behaviour.
Example can be either positive or negative punishment. (I.e. positive
punishment = speeding ticket, getting a smack, added chores etc. OR
negative punishment = licence taken away, phone confiscated etc.)
(4 marks)

4. James and John both study hard for their Year 12 Psychology test on Learning 
Identify the component of operant conditioning used by the parents in these examples to
encourage their kids to study hard.

a) James continues to study hard because for every A grade he receives his parents pay him

Positive reinforcement (1 marks)

b) John continues to study hard, because last time he failed a test his parents were very
disappointed and nagged him about it for a month.

Negative reinforcement (1

5. Some supermarkets offer shoppers frequent flyer points or petrol discounts for shopping with
them – for example spend $30 and receive 4c discount on fuel. Loyalty cards such as Subway,
Boost or Coffee Clubs also use this same strategy to entice customers to continue shopping. Using
the principles of operant conditioning, explain which schedule of reinforcement is being used.

The fixed ratio schedule of reinforcement is when an organism is reinforced

after a set number of responses have been performed/completed. The above
examples are fixed ratio schedules of reinforcement as the shoppers need to
buy a certain number of products (responses) and they know/are aware of
how many to buy in order to get reinforced (spend $30 on fuel, buy 5 Subway
sandwiches get the next one free etc.)
(4 marks)

6. Describe one difference between negative reinforcement and punishment.

Negative reinforcement involves the removal of an unpleasant stimulus
with the aim of increasing behaviour. Punishment involves giving an
unpleasant stimulus with the aim of decreasing behaviour.

(2 Marks)
6. Stacey is a ten year old girl who wants to learn how to wash the dishes just like her mum.

Describe two factors that could influence Stacey’s learning through observation.

Any two of the following well explained:

Attention: Stacey (observer) must pay attention to her mother’s behaviour

(model) in order for learning to occur.

Retention: Stacey must remember/retain the observed behaviour of

washing the dishes into her long term memory.

Reproduction: Stacey must be physically and mentally capable of

reproducing her mother’s behaviour of washing the dishes.

Motivation: Stacey will expect positive reinforcement from her mother for
washing the dishes in order for Stacey to continue that behaviour in the

Gender of the model: Stacey is more likely to try and reproduce her
mother’s behaviour of washing the dishes as they are the same gender.

Social status of the model: Stacey sees her mother as a higher social
status than her, therefore Stacey is more likely to reproduce the mother’s
behaviour of washing the dishes.

Relationship between model and observer: Stacey has a close

relationship with her mother, therefore she is more likely to try and
reproduce her mother’s behaviour of washing the dishes.

Consequences after the models behaviour: Stacey has observed the

dishes been done as having a positive outcome, so she is more likely to
reproduce the observed behaviour from her mother.
(4 marks)


You should spend about 20 minutes on this section, 5 minutes planning and 20 minutes writing. Credit
will be given for clear, well expressed answers that are well organised and relevant to the questions.

Each dot pot is worth 4 marks, and an additional 4 marks will be allocated for using appropriate
psychological terms effectively.

7. Watson and Raynor performed an experiment with a young child they identified as Little Albert,
whom they initially conditioned to fear a white rat after sounding a loud bang immediately before
presenting the rat. Later, Little Albert learned to also fear a Santa mask, a dog, a rabbit and a fur

Using the principles of classical conditioning and referring to appropriate terminology:

 Explain the process of how the rat becomes the conditioned stimulus. (8 marks)
 Explain how stimulus generalisation is demonstrated in the Little Albert experiment. (4 marks)
 Describe one psychological intervention that could have potentially extinguished Little Alberts
fear. (4 marks)
 4 marks - communication

1. Process of rat becoming conditioned stimulus

Before Conditioning:
NS – rat produces no response
UCS – sound of loud bang produces fear

Initially little Albert did not fear the rat. The sound of the loud bang initially
produced a fear response in little Albert
UCR - fear response (due to the loud bag)

During Conditioning (Acquisition)

NS (rat) + UCS (sound of bang) produces UCR (fear)
When the rat was presented with the sound of the loud bang little Albert was

After Conditioning (Performance)

CS (rat) produces CR (fear)
Little Albert now fears the rat as he associates the rat with the fearful sound of the
loud bang.
NOTE: for the 8 marks, you need to correctly identify the UCS, UCR, CS and CR and
explain the process of how the rat became the CS.

2. Stimulus Generalisation (2 marks for theory, 2 marks for example)

Occurs when a stimulus similar to the conditioned stimulus is able to elicit the
same or similar conditioned response.
Initially it was only the rat that little Albert feared, but he then generalises this
fear to other similar furry stimulus – the Santa mask, rabbit, dog and fur coat.

3. Systematic Desensitisation. (2 points well explained)

Learn relaxation strategies such as deep breathing.
Identify a hierarchy of fears from least feared to most feared (e.g. seeing a
picture of a white rat, seeing a white rat on TV, seeing a rat in a pet shop,
holding a rat in a glass box, having the rat in his hands).
Begin to pair the least feared situation with the relaxation technique and move
through the hierarchy in slow steps until relaxation is present in Albert instead
of fear response at each step.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (2 points well explained)

Albert would need to challenge the distorted thoughts of rats harming him. He
could have done this by being presented with a white rat and having his
physiological responses go up. His parasympathetic nervous system would then
reduce his physiological responses back to normal levels and in the process,
learn that his worst fears of rats harming him don’t happen, thus learning rats
are harmless. This would help Albert to make sense and be aware of his
distorted thoughts and behaviours in relation to rats, and help change is
behaviour towards them in the future.