Associative Learning

Associative learning can be defined as learning about the relationship between separate stimuli, which might range from abstract concepts, like time, location, context, categories, etc. to concrete objects and events. 

Associative learning is a learning style that happens when two completely unrelated elements become connected in people’s memory through a process called conditioning.Examples of associative learning include:

  • If a person puts their hand on a hot stove and burns themselves, they learn to associate hot stoves with pain, and hence not to put their hands on them.
  • If a person eats a particular type of food, and as a result develops a headache soon afterwards, they will learn to associate that particular food with headaches even if the food did not actually cause the headache and not want to eat it again.
  • Each time a child cleans their room, if the parent gives them a treat, the child will start associating cleaning their room with treats, which will make them more inclined to clean their room more frequently.

In addition to being something that humans and animals alike do naturally, it is also made use of by teachers. Through the use of associative learning techniques, teachers are able to manage their classrooms better, while parents are able to encourage their children better to behave well and responsibly. There are two main types of associative learning – operant conditioning and classical conditioning.

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