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Psychology Glossary

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One-Trial Learning

As its name suggests, the theory of one trial learning states that learning takes place in a single pairing of a response and stimulus and is not strengthened over time by repeated exposure to a stimulus. Edwin Guthrie, the American psychologist behind this theory, did not believe in conditioned learning where a reward following a behavior reinforces it. He believed that you learn from cues that come first and sort of "tell" you to do a behavior.

For instance, if you are driving and hear a siren, all the other cars pull over, and then you are nearly run off the road by a speeding fire truck - the next time you hear a siren you will take it as a cue to pull over.

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