Animal Trainer and Beluga Whale


A list of vocabulary items pertinent to the field of animal training and behavior

Terms & Definitions

continuous reinforcement
a reinforcement schedule in which a particular response is reinforced each time it occurs

the tendency for learned behavior to occur in the presence of stimuli present during training, but not in the presence of stimuli absent during training

the weakening of a response by withholding the reinforcer that normally follows that response

the tendency for a learned response to occur in the presence of stimuli that were not present during training

intermittent reinforcement
reinforcement on any of several schedules in which a response is sometimes reinforced

a change in behavior due to experience

observational learning
any procedure in which an organism learns through observation of the behavior of another organism

operant learning
any procedure by which a response becomes more or less likely to occur, depending upon its consequences

positive reinforcement
a reinforcement procedure in which a response is followed by the presentation of, or an increase in the intensity of, a stimulus

primary reinforcer
any stimulus that is normally reinforcing to all or nearly all members of a species (e.g. food and water)

any procedure that increases the probability of a response

schedule of reinforcement
the schedule by which a particular response is reinforced

secondary reinforcer
any stimulus that has acquired its reinforcing properties through association with other reinforcers

an operant learning procedure in which successive approximations of a desired response are reinforced

any event that affects, or is capable of affecting, behavior


Chance, Paul. Learning and Behavior. Third edition. Pacific Grove, California: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, 1994.