What are examples of associative learning?


A positive example of associative learning is when a man smells a perfume that reminds him of his wife and his body releases endorphins as he remembers how much he loves her. A negative example is when a woman tenses up around a man with a mustache because she was abused by her uncle who wore a mustache and seeing it on any man brings back emotions of pain and anger.

Associative learning happens when a new reaction becomes associated with or linked to a specific stimulus. Originally, this was studied primarily in animals, but humans also engage in associative learning every day. It deals with the connotations one connects to memories of experiences, sights, sounds and smells.

Associative learning happens through conditioning. In Pavlov's dog experiment, every time he rang a bell, he gave the dog a treat. After repeating the action with the stimulus, any time a bell rang, the dog salivated in expectation of a treat. The dog has learned to associate the bell with a treat. In the same way, a person associates a specific stimulus with a memory, location or another person. The human mind is a web that stores all of these associations. Some are more intentional, while others are more subconscious.

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