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04- Instrumental Conditioning I & II.docx

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Joe Kim

Instrumental Conditioning I Introduction  Involves explicit training between voluntary behaviours and their consequences.  The learning of a contingency between behaviour and consequence. Instrumental Conditioning  If you touch a hot stove you’re going to get burned.  A specific behaviour leads to a specific consequence.  Instrumental conditioning is all about learning the contingency between behaviours and consequences. Instrumental Conditioning Edward L. Thorndike  Began his investigation by studying cats in a puzzle box.  This put the focus on overt behaviour rather than on mental elements or conscious experiences.  Thorndike’s Experiment: He measured the time it took the cat to learn to open the door by pulling the string.  Thorndike predicted that on trials following the discovery of the correct solution, the cat would escape immediately once placed in the same puzzle box.  A pattern of behaviour following this hypothesis would look like this:  Long escape times during initial trials would be followed by a dramatic step down in time to escape in later trials.  It sounded great, but this isn’t what happened.  Instead, Thorndike found that the frequency of the random behaviours gradually decreased over time.  Over several trials, the random behaviours that did not lead to escape would occur less frequently, leaving only the correct target behaviour in place.  This suggested that animals followed a simple stimulus-response type process with little credit for consciousness.  The graph indicates a decreasing number of behaviours in relation to the number of increasing successful trials.  There was never a distinct “aha” moment. The Law of Effect  Thorndike hypothesized a process called Stamping In and Stamping Out, which determined whether a behaviour was maintained or eliminated.  Behaviours like rope pulling were stamped in because they were followed by the favourable consequence of access to food.  In contrast, random behaviours like turning in a circle, were stamped out.  Eventually, this general process leads to refinement and the cat learns the contingency between the specific behaviour of rope pulling and the specific consequence of food reward.  These finding lead to the GENERAL LAW OF EFFECT: Behaviours that produce a satisfying or pleasant state will be stamped in and performed more frequently; behaviours that produce an annoying or unpleasant affect will be stamped out and performed less frequently. Types of Instrumental Conditioning Four Consequences  A more precise strategy is to refer to the reinforcer, which is any stimulus, which, when presented after a response, leads to a change in the rate of that response.  Both positive and negative reinforcers, each of which can be presented or removed, change behavioural responses.  This leads to 4 different types of instrumental conditioning: Reward Training  Presentation of a positive reinforce following a response  increases the behaviour.  If you present your puppy with a treat every time it sits on command, the behaviour is likely to increase. Punishment  Presentation of a negative reinforcer.  Leads to a decrease in the behaviour being reinforced.  If every time you placed coins into a pop can machine you were shocked, you will very quickly decrease the behaviour.  The use of punishment must consider the ethics of experiencing fear or pain in the recipient.  Many learning theorists believe that when punishment is used, the authority figure may, through classical conditioning, become a signal for pain or distress, a contingency that may ultimately damage a parent-child relationship. Omission Training  Involves removing a positive reinforcer following a response which leads to a decrease in the behaviour being reinforced.  This is clear because removing a positive reinforcer is a situation that a person wants to avoid.  A version of the omission training used in schools or by parents is known as the time out procedure.  Removal of a positive reinforcer ≠ Presentation of a negative reinforcer Escape Training  Occurs when a response is followed by the removal of a negative reinforcer.  There is a constant negative reinforcer being presented that the learner is motivated to have removed.  By performing a specific response, the negative reinforcer can be removed, which leads to an increase in the target behaviour. Conclusion  The four different types of instrumental conditioning differ in whether a positive or negative reinforcer is either presented or removed.  It proceeds best when the consequence immediately follows the response. Acquisition and Shaping Contingencies  The process of acquisition leads to learning the contingency between a response and its consequences.  Psychologists are often interested in measuring the rate of responding of the new behaviour.  Here is the output for a typical experiment: Autoshaping  When behaviours can be learned without explicit training guided by the researcher. Shaping  The complex behaviour can be organized into smaller steps, which gradually build up to the full response we hope to condition.  Each of these steps can be reinforced through reward training.  Over time, the successive approximations lead to the final complex behaviour.  Ex. Pigeons with the ping pong ball. Instrumental Conditioning II Generalization and Discrimination The Discriminative Stimulus  It’s not only important to learn the contingency between a response and reinforcement, but also when that contingency is valid.  A discriminative stimulus signals when a contingency between a particular response and reinforcement is “on.”  Contrast the SD, with the notion of an S-delta.  The S-delta is a cue which indicates when the contingent relationship is not valid.  Example: o SD = present of parents o Response = politeness o Reinforcement = praise o *Generalize she might also be polite in the presence of other adults in the hope of receiving praise and attention. o However, her polite behaviours may not be quite as strong as they would be when her pa
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