BIOL 1010 Lecture Notes - Reinforcement, Classical Conditioning, Operant Conditioning
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John B. Watson replaced introspection, investigations on learning in animals became the dominant
focus of psychology which switched from thinking to learning.
behaviourism can be defined as an approach that focuses on observable behaviour rather than on
Three types of learning:
o (Pavlov), unconditioned stimulus; a stimulus elicits a response with no prior learning.
o Unconditioned response: the response elicited by an unconditioned stimuli.
o Conditioned stimuli: the conditioned stimulus is previously neutral stimulus that, after
becoming associated with the unconditioned stimulus, eventually comes to trigger a
o Conditioned response: the conditioned response is the learned response to the
previously neutral stimulus.
o Extinction: refers to the lowering of the probability of a response when a characteristic
reinforcing stimulus is no longer presented.
Classical conditioning could instil pathological fear.
o (Thorndike), law of effect: behaviour that is followed by satisfying consequences will be
repeated and behaviour that is followed by unpleasant consequences will be
discouraged (first called instrumental learning)
o Skinner introduced operant conditioning, applied to behaviour that operates on the
environment. He reformulated the law of effect by shifting the focus from the linking of
stimuli and responses (S-R connections) to the relationships between responses and
their consequences or contingencies.
o Stimuli do not so much get connected to responses as they become the occasions for
responses to occur, if in the past they have been reinforced.
o Discriminative stimulus: external events that in effect tell an organism that if it performs
a certain behaviour a certain consequence will follow.
o Renaming the law of effect “principle of reinforcement”, skinner distinguished 2 types of
Positive reinforcement: refers to the strengthening of a tendency to respond by
virtue of the presentation of a pleasant event, called a positive reinforcer.
Negative reinforcement: also strengthens a response, but it does so via the
removal of an aversive agent, such as the cessation of electric shock, called
o Shaping: rewarding a series of responses that are successive approximations of the
o Learning by watching and imitating others.
MEDIATIONAL LEARNING PARADIGMS: