Learning-Performance Distinction

The learning-performance distinction is a concept in behaviorism that stresses the difference between the learning of a behavior and actual performance of the behavior. The learning of a behavior or skill doesn't necessarily require the performance or practice of the behavior. Learning isn't just the performance of a learned behavior - it is a change in the ability and potential to do the behavior.

When an organism achieves the capability to do a particular behavior or action it may remain latent or unused for a time before it is actually performed. Learning isn't performance - it is turning the learning into a learned behavior that you actually perform that is performance.

For example, imagine an individual who has never played basketball before. They watch a basketball game on television and learn the main concept of the game which is getting the ball into the hoop. This behavior is now learned but remains latent until the person actually plays basketball for the first time and shoots the ball into the hoop. The learning-performance distinction show the difference between learning (watching the basketball game and grasping the concept of the behavior) and performance (actually performing the behavior).

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