AP Psychology Practice Test: Learning

This AP Psychology practice test covers learning. For your AP exam you will need to know about classical conditioning, operant conditioning, cognitive processes, social learning, and biological factors. Try our free quiz to prepare for the AP Psychology learning questions.


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Question 1
Through direct experience with animals, small children come to anticipate that dogs will bark and that birds will chirp. This best illustrates what psychological learning concept?

A
Associative learning
B
Law of Effect
C
Latent Learning
D
Respondent behavior
E
Spontaneous recall
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Associative learning is the process by which an association between two stimuli or a behavior and a stimulus is learned. In this case, the noise an animal makes is associated with the animal.
Question 2
Blinking in response to a puff of air directed to your eye is a(n):

A
Conditioned Response
B
Conditioned Stimulus
C
Unconditioned Response
D
Unconditioned Stimulus
E
None of the above
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). An unconditioned response is an automatic reaction to something. In this case, blinking would be an automatic reaction to the air puff and would occur without an association. Unconditioned responses are not learned, they occur naturally in response to a stimulus.
Question 3
Maddie gets a speeding ticket, and her parents take her car away for 2 weeks. This is an example of what reinforcement schedule?

A
Positive punishment
B
Negative punishment
C
Positive reinforcement
D
Negative reinforcement
E
Rules enforcement
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). In negative punishment, a desirable object is removed in response to undesirable behavior with the goal of reducing or ending the undesirable behavior. In this case, the desired object is the car, the undesired action is the speeding ticket, and the desired outcome is no future speeding tickets.
Question 4
What is an example of a secondary reinforcer?

A
Instant satisfaction
B
Money
C
Food
D
Positive reinforcement
E
Negative reinforcement
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Secondary reinforcers are used to support a behavior that has become associated with a primary reinforce. Primary reinforcers consist of biological drives—food and pleasure being the primary examples. Secondary reinforcers are often those that can be used to acquire primary reinforcers. In this case, money can be used to acquire both instant satisfaction and food, so it would be a secondary reinforcer.
Question 5
Leah is interested in helping her daughter learn manners. Each time her daughter says something that is close to appropriate, she rewards her. Eventually, her daughter should learn good manners. What term is explained by this process?

A
Generalization
B
Habituation
C
Positive reinforcement
D
Priming
E
Shaping
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). Shaping is when specific positive behaviors in line with more correct behaviors are progressively rewarded in an effort to elicit a desired long term behavior.
Question 6
Which of the following is an example of a fixed-interval reinforcement schedule?

A
Being paid by the week
B
Getting a reward for good behavior once in a while
C
Getting paid for each time-share you sell
D
When a dog gets a treat every time it sits on command
E
Winning money at a slot machine
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). A fixed-interval schedule is a schedule of reinforcement where the first response is rewarded only after a specified amount of time has elapsed. In this case, the reward is the payment, which occurs at a regular, or fixed, interval of one week.
Question 7
Responding to a stimulus in order to avoid electric shock is an example of what?

A
Avoidance conditioning
B
Escape conditioning
C
Punishment
D
Shaping
E
Successive approximation
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Avoidance conditioning entails the learning of a behavior in response to a stimulus in order to avoid an aversive event. It differs from escape conditioning in that avoidance conditioning occurs prior to the presence of the aversive event.
Question 8
Rats that do not find a positive reinforcer at the end of a maze learn slowly when compared to rats that do find a positive reinforcer at the end of a maze. However, if the first group does begin receiving a positive reinforcement at the end of a maze, their performance in the maze begins to match the second group’s performance. This is an example of what effect?

A
Behavior chaining
B
Intrinsic learning
C
Latent learning
D
Law of effect
E
Law of exercise
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Although performing worse than the second group, the rats that do not receive reinforcement have been learning, just more slowly than the second group. The improvement in their performance supports this claim and shows the effect of latent learning.
Question 9
Under which reinforcement schedule is it most important for an organism to learn to accurately estimate time?

A
Combined ratio
B
Fixed interval
C
Fixed ratio
D
Variable interval
E
Variable ratio
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Estimating time is most critical in a fixed-interval reinforcement schedule because the organism can learn to optimize its response pattern when the fixed interval can be accurately estimated.
Question 10
Which is most true of punishment?

A
It has a long-range inhibitory effect upon behavior.
B
It is effective as a means of extinction.
C
It is effective in behavior control without undesirable side effects.
D
It is effective specifically in cases of retroactive inhibition.
E
Its inhibitory effect is only short-range, and the general behavior tendency remains essentially unchanged.
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). The inhibitory effects of punishment are typically immediate and only short-range. Punishment alone will not exact a long term alteration of behavior.
Question 11
What is the basis of Thorndike’s Law of Effect?

A
In addition to practice, there must be reinforcement.
B
In addition to reinforcement, there must be reward.
C
Neither practice nor reward is important to learning.
D
Something learned with reinforcement can never be extinguished.
E
Practice alone produces learning.
Question 11 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The Law of Effect points to the central role of reinforcement in learning—actions rewarded are typically going to occur again. Additionally, in the absence of positive reinforcement, practice will not be as effective as if there is a positive reinforcement schedule in place.
Question 12
The terms “reconditioning” and “spontaneous recovery” both describe the increase in a conditioned response that was believed to be extinguished. What is the key difference between these two terms?

A
Spontaneous recovery occurs after a period with no exposure to either the conditioned response or unconditioned response, whereas reconditioning occurs after re-exposure to pairings of the conditioned stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus.
B
Spontaneous recovery occurs for biologically prepared associations, whereas reconditioning can occur with any arbitrary learned association.
C
Spontaneous recovery refers to classical conditioning and reconditioning refers to operant conditioning.
D
Spontaneous recovery refers to positive reinforcement and reconditioning refers to negative reinforcement.
E
The two terms are synonyms; there is no difference.
Question 12 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The presentation of additional learning trials, after extinction, is called reconditioning, which is typically faster than initial learning due to the initial exposure to the stimulus. Spontaneous recovery occurs after a “rest” interval, and it will be short-lived unless further training occurs.
Question 13
In signal-detection research, occasionally a subject will report detecting a signal even in the signal’s absence. What is this called?

A
False alarm
B
False positive
C
Hit
D
Miss
E
Sandbagging
Question 13 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). A false alarm is reporting a stimulus when none is present. On the other hand, a miss is not reporting a stimulus when one is present.
Question 14
The conditioned stimulus gets its meaning from its association with the:

A
Conditioned response
B
Generalized stimulus
C
Instinctual relevance
D
Unconditioned response
E
Unconditioned stimulus
Question 14 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). The conditioned stimulus is associated with the unconditioned stimulus in a classical conditioning situation. Prior to the conditioned response, the conditioned stimulus is a neutral stimulus that does not elicit a response. After becoming paired with the unconditioned stimulus, the conditioned stimulus then elicits a conditioned response.
Question 15
A gambler’s addiction is a result of what reinforcement schedule?

A
Counterpunishment
B
Fixed interval
C
Fixed ratio
D
Variable interval
E
Variable ratio
Question 15 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). With gambling the number of responses needed for a reward varies, which describes a variable ratio schedule. This type of schedule is unpredictable and yields high and steady response rates, with little if any pause after reinforcement.
Question 16
When an animal receives a punishment but learns that pressing a button will eliminate the punishment, escape learning takes place. However, if there is no response that will turn off the shock, the situation is best described as what?

A
Avoidance learning
B
Second-order conditioning
C
Learned helplessness
D
Latent learning
E
Conditioned emotional response
Question 16 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Learned helplessness is the result of an inability to control the environment in such a way as to avoid punishment. It has the effect of making future response contingencies more difficult to learn.
Question 17
Every day, Zach walks home from school with his sister, Abby. One day, Abby has to stay late for soccer practice, so Zach tries to walk home by himself. He has never done this before, but he is surprised to discover that he learned the route correctly after all of those walks with his sister. What is Zach’s situation an example of?

A
Accidental learning
B
Instinctual imprinting
C
Latent learning
D
Shaping
E
Successive approximation
Question 17 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Latent learning refers to learning that takes place without any measured change in behavior during the learning period. Because Zach never had the chance to prove that he was learning the route but then showed that he had learned the route home, this is an example of latent learning.
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