PSYC 100 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Reinforcement, Operant Conditioning, Classical Conditioning

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24 Jul 2016
1: What Is learning
Learning (operational definition): more or less permanent change in behaviour or behavioural
potential that results from experience
Nativists: almost all behaviour was relfexive or due to inborn ideas, life experiences play little or
no role in shaping our behaviour
Empiricists: humans are born with no ideas or knowledge of behaviour, learn through
experience, external sensations and human reason combine to produce knowledge
2: Classical Conditioning
Form of learning where animal leanrs an association between two stimuli
Dogs began salivating when they saw experimenter who usually gave them food, learned to
associate experimenter with presentation of food
Unconditioned stimulus (UCS) produces an unconditioned response (UCR)
oUCS = food
oUCR = salivating
Neutral stimulus = bell becomes conditioned stimulus (CS) produces conditioned response
(which looks a lot like unconditioned response)
1. Acquisition: gradual learning of the new response, requires many trials of CS and UCS
happening at the same time
a. Best if new stimulus come both before and at same time as unconditioned stimulus
a. Delay conditioning: CS and then UCS, most effective
b. Backward conditioning: food presented before bell rings (UCS before CS), least effective
c. Simultaneous conditioning: CS and UCS same times, requires more trials
d. Trace conditioning: presenting CS, taking away, presenting UCS (bell begins to ring,
turned off, food is presented), only effective with really short delay
e. Memory trace: an impression, sensory or short-term memory of a stimulus left in the
Generalization: conditioned responses elicited by stimuli that resemble, but are not identical to
the CS used in training
oThe degree of similarity between stimulus and response is called generalization gradient
Discrimination training: training animal to respond selectively to only one stimulus and not
others that are similar
Habituation: diminished response to stimuli after repeated exposure, slow process
Contiguity: continuous series of frequent pairings, necessary for learning association
Contingency: degree to which occurrence of some event (US) is predicted by another event (CS),
Extinction: gradual weakening and loss of the conditioned response that results in behaviour
decreasing as a result of UCS being withheld after presentation of the conditioned stimulus
Spontaneous recovery: animal has not fully lost the response, response has been inhibited,
animal is quicker to re-acquire conditioned response when CS and UCS are presented together
3: Operant Conditioning (Skinner)
Law of effect: Behaviours with favourable outcomes likely to be repeated. Other behaviours
that have no useful consequences are stamped out
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