Chapter 6 Notes .doc

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16 Mar 2012
How did the Behavioral Study of Learning Develop? 237
learning: an enduring change in behaviour resulting from experience
essence of learning is understanding how events are related (dentist and pain)
associations develop through conditioning: a process in which environment stim-
uli and behavioral responses become connected. 2 types:
classical conditioning (pavlovian conditioning): a type of learned response
that occurs when a neutral object comes to elicit a reflexive response when
it is associated with a stimulus that already produces that response (a song
in a scary movie makes our hearts beat faster)
operant conditioning (instrumental conditioning): a learning process in
which the consequences of an action determine the likelihood that it will be
performed in the future (studying leads to better grades)
freud used report techniques (ie. dream analysis) to assess mental processes that
believed were behaviours primary determinant
John B. Watson
believed that things that could not be observed directly (people’s mental ex-
periences) were not a valid indicator for psychological activity
founded Behaviorism: a school of thought based on the belief that animals
and humans are born with the potential to learn just about anything
*states that the environment and its associated effects on animals were
the sole determinants of learning
based on John Locke’s idea of tabula rasa (blank slate) - states that infants
are born knowing nothing at all and that all knowledge is acquired through
sensory experiences
Behavioral Responses are Conditioned
Pavlov’s Experiment
Ivan Pavlov, nobel prize, work on the digestive system > salivary reflex
salivation at the sight of a person or bowl is not automatic and therefore must have
been acquired through experience
neutral stimulus: unrelated to the salivary reflect (ringing bell)
presented with stimulus that reliably produces the stimulus (food)
this pairing, conditioning trial, repeated a number of times
critical trial bell sound is presented alone and reflex is measured
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(UR) Unconditioned Response: a response that does not have to be learned/re-
flex - salivation elicited by food
(US) Unconditioned Stimulus: a stimulus that elicits a response, such as a reflex,
without any prior learning. unlearned and automatic behaviour - food
(CS) Conditioned Stimulus: a stimulus that elicits a response only after learning
has taken place - ringing bell produces salivation
(CR) Conditioned Response: a response that has be learned - salivation at
sound of only bell
the condition and unconditioned responses are salivation but not identical
conditioned response is usually weaker
bell produced less saliva that food did
Acquisition, Extinction, and Spontaneous Recovery
Pavlov believed that conditioning is the basis for how animals learn to adapt to their
each time it rained, a delicious and nutritious plant blooms - animals that learn this
association will seek the plant out every time it rains
acquisition: the gradual formation of an association between stimuli, one condi-
tioned (rain) and one unconditioned (plant bloom)
once a behaviour is acquired, how long does it persist?
animals sometimes have to learn when associations are no longer adaptive
if bell is presented many times and food does not arrive, animal learns that the
bell is no longer a god predictor of food - salivary responses disappear
*NOTE: the strongest association occurs when the CS is presented slightly be-
fore the US, because it acts as a predictor. the CS “warns you” of an upcoming
extinction: a process in which the conditioned response is weakened when the
conditioned stimulus is repeated without the unconditioned stimulus
spontaneous recovery: a process in which a previously extinguished response
reemerges following presentation of the conditioned stimulus
if the delicious plant blooms during a certain season, the adaptive response is
to check back once in a while to see if it blooms after the rain
extinction reduces the strength of the associated bond but does not eliminate it
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Generalization, Discrimination, and Second-Order Conditioning
stimulus generalization: occurs when stimuli that are similar but not identical to
the conditioned stimulus produce the conditioned response
generalization is adaptive because in the nature of CS is seldom experienced re-
peatedly in an identical fashion therefore animals learn to respond to the variations
in the CS
slight difference in background noise, temperature, lighting etc
it is also important for animals to distinguish among similar stimuli - 2 plants might
look the same but one is poisonous
stimulus discrimination: a differentiation between 2 similar stimuli when only one
of them is consistently associated with the unconditioned stimulus
second-order conditioning: sometimes a conditioned stimulus becomes directly
associated with other stimuli associated with the US
black square was shown every time bell was rung and soon the black square also
caused salivation
money > purchasing power > associated with a rewarding feeling
even though second-order conditioning powerfully influences many of our beliefs
and attitudes, most of it occurs implicitly, without awareness or intention
Phobias and Addictions Have Learned Components
Phobias and their Treatment
phobia: an acquired fear that is out of proportion to the real threat of an object or
of a situation
according to classical-conditioning, phobias develop through the generalization of a
fear experience (person stung by a wasp fears all flying insects)
fear conditioning: process of becoming classically conditioned to fear an object
child becomes fearful of rats when loud noise is made every time it is near one
the classical conditioning was shown to be an effective method of inducing phobia
counterconditioning: exposing people to a small dose of the feared stimulus
while having them engage in a pleasurable task in order to help people overcome
Joseph Wolpe’s treatment method of systematic desensitization
Drug Addiction
conditioned drug effects are common and demonstrate conditioning’s power
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