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DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLASSICAL AND OPERANT CONDITIONING Classical Conditioning Operant Conditioning 1.   The learner is not independent in this type of learning. 2.   Classical conditioning is restricted to animal learning only. 3.   Stimulus oriented. 4.  Learning through stimulus substitution.             5.   Behaviour is elicited. 6.   Reinforcement comes before the act. 7.   Response is forced. 8.   Developed by Russian (Pavlov) experiment. 1.   The learner is independent in this type of learning. 2.   Operant conditioning may be useful for the purpose of human learning also. 3.   Response oriented. 4.   Learning through response modification. 5.   Behaviour is emitted. 6.   Reinforcement comes after the act. 7.   Response is voluntary. 8.   Developed by American (Skinner) experiment   ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

KOHLER’S INSIGHT LEARNING THEORY | Experiments | Factors | Principles | Educational Implication | kohler



Wolfgang Kohler was one of the founders of Gestalt psychology along with Max Wertheimer and Kurt Koffka. He is famous for his description of insight learning which he tested on animals, particularly chimpanzees. Attention was drawn to this method by Kohler.
Kohler has done two experiments.

  Experiment - 1

            Kohler performed an experiment with six chimpanzees in his laboratory in the Canary Islands. He kept the animals in a room which had smooth unclimbable walls. A banana was suspended from ceiling and three boxes were put in the middle of the room, two or three yards (1 yard = 3 feet) away from the lure. A stick was also placed nearby. All the six chimpanzees jumped repeatedly for the banana but not get it. Then Sultan one of the most intelligent chimpanzees, who had shown himself in the other test also. After surveying the whole situation paced up and down, suddenly placed in front of the box, moved it quickly towards the goal, climbed, picked up the stick and finally paced the three boxes one over the other to secure the banana, taking only twenty seconds in his final continuous act with the boxes. The other apes acquired the performance with some difficulty. In this way a number of experiments were performed.

Experiment - 2

            With a slight modification in his previous experiment Kohler performed one more experiment on chimpanzee named Sultan.  In this experiment Kohler put Sultan, the most intelligent of the apes in a cage and some banana was placed outside the cage, beyond the reach of Sultan. Two bamboo sticks (cane), each too short to reach the banana, were also placed inside the cage.  However, the two sticks were constructed in such a way that they could be joined by fitting one into the open end of the other. Sultan indulges in much, trial and error and tried to reach the banana with one stick, but failed. After making various kinds of attempts the chimpanzee squat indifferently on the box kept in the rear of the cage. After some time he got up the two sticks and started playing carelessly with them. In course of play, he found himself holding one stick in each hand in such a way that they made a straight line. He pushed the thinner stick into the opening of the thicker one, and realizing that he had a longer stick rushed to the other side of the cage, jumped up and ran towards him with the stick. On the next day, he needed only a short time to get banana. Thus Kohler emphasized suddenness with which the right solution appeared and chimpanzee’s behavior was not due to trial and error but due to his insight.


Though Kohler seemed to see insightful learning in terms of a sudden ‘aha’ or a bolt of lightening, it is found to depend upon factors such as:

1. Experience: 
Past experience helps in the insightful solution of problems.  A child cannot solve the problems of modern mathematics unless he is familiar with its symbolic language.

2. Intelligence: 
Insightful solution depends upon the basic intelligence of the learner. The more intelligent the individual, the greater will be his insight.

3. Learning Situation: 
How insightfully an individual will react depends upon the situation in which he has been placed. Some situations are more conductive to insightful solution than others.

4. Initial Efforts: 
Insightful learning has to pass the process of trial and error, but this stage does not last long.  These initial efforts in the form of a simple trial and error mechanism open the way for insightful learning.

5. Repetition and Generalization: 
After obtaining an insightful solution of a particular type of problem, the individual tries to implement it in another situation, demanding a similar type of solution.


(a) Law of Similarity

This is the principle which determines the formation of groups in perception such as groups of lines, dots, or similar pairs. E.g.:                   
            + + + + + +
            -  -  -  -  -  -
            x x x x x x
            x x x x x x

(b) Law of Proximity

Nearness of the parts helps to form group. Items tend to form groups if they are spaced together.
 Parallel lines

(c)  Law of Closure

Closed areas more readily form in group. This law also means that when the perception of the situation is incomplete, the individual is not able to solve the problem. The problem is solved when he is able to bring the separate parts of the situation together into a closed perceptual figure, consisting of the goal and the means of obtaining the goal.    

(d) Law of Continuity

In perception one tends to continue with the series as straight lines and curves as circle. This law indicates the tendency of factors to act in a manner whereby they show the direction, movement and continuation.

e) Law of Contrast

A perception or an idea tends to suggest the contrary opposite. For instance adversity/hardship reminds a person of his days of prosperity.  Similarly, the heat of summer suggests the cold of winter, in these laws of learning is brought out the Gestalt point of view that the organizational capacity of the brain makes to grasp the whole in priority with the parts.


1. Helplessness to Mastery
In class room situation sometimes student feels helplessness or tension and then in second moment he gets the solution and becomes master of the problem.

2. Good Retention

        This is the indication of insightful behaviour. The chimpanzee could retain the means and goal (boxes and banana) for reaching next time. This insightful behavior can be indicated by good retention of the learner.

3. Trial and Error

                 Gestalt psychologists have demonstrated the value of insight. They have not disproved the value of trail and error. 

4. Transfer

            Transfer of learning in one situation can be transferred to other situation i.e. due to insightful behavior. The insightful behaviour helps the learner to identify the elements, which can be transferred to another situation. NSS, NCC, Mathematic, language can be transferred to future life or vocational education has greater value because it is life oriented education.

5. Originality

            Originality in insightful learning implies novel behavior or new manner in the situation. It is not action-research or trail and error method, because in insightful learning goal and means are visible but he has to fill up the gap.

6. Confidence

            A person who has insight will be well confident; one who has no insight will not have confidence. The important factor for effective teaching is confidence of teacher. Result of teaching can be evaluated with regard to student’s confidence in the content. Insightful learning can create confidence among the students.

  Notes By

Dr. A. Michael J Leo
Psychology Professor
St. Xavier's College of Education