Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

© 2018 American Psychological Association. Individual differences in behavior are understood generally as arising from an interaction between genes and environment, omitting a crucial component. The literature on animal and human learning suggests the need to posit principles of learning to explain our differences. One of the challenges for the advancement of the field has been to establish how general principles of learning can explain the almost infinite variation in behavior. We present a case that: (a) individual differences in behavior emerge, in part, from principles of learning; (b) associations provide a descriptive mechanism for understanding the contribution of experience to behavior; and (c) learning theories explain dissociable aspects of behavior. We use 4 examples from the field of learning to illustrate the importance of involving psychology, and associative theory in particular, in the analysis of individual differences, these are (a) fear learning; (b) behavior directed to cues for outcomes (i.e., sign- and goal- tracking); (c) stimulus learning related to attention; and (d) human causal learning.

Original publication

DOI

10.1037/xan0000157

Type

Journal article

Journal

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition

Publication Date

01/01/2018

Volume

44

Pages

36 - 55