Lecture #7 (02/23/2009)
Learning theories premise behind them is that: behavior is driven by consequences.
All that really matters is the organism’s sense of consequences, and given a knowledge of those
consequences we can shape behavior.
Implicit in many of those theories is that : reinforcement value is the same for all
organisms that could be receiving a reinforcement or a punishment.
Learning theories also state: Value of shaping a behavior should be same for all
organisms (Idea of an equivalence principle)
Behaviorist theories collapsed cuz they had to explain everything in terms of schedules of
reinforcement. Eventually got to the point where, it seemed foolish had to make a lot of
Cognitive Theories (theories about how people think about their world, and how their
thoughts can influence their behaviors and their conceptions of how the world works.)
• “Cognitive revolution” of 1960s in response to the apparent passivity of behaviorist
• Behavior is at least partly a function of attitudes, expectations, beliefs, values, etc.
behavior is at least partly a function of cognitive aspects of our consciousness/mind
(so these are things like attitudes, expectations, beliefs, values) So these aren’t things
necessarily out there in the world, they are within us. They are shaped by the external
world, but these are not things out in the world driving our behavior, they are coming
* Remember in Psychodynamism they talk about universals (we all have a sexual drive, a life
drive, a death drive)
• People actively navigate their social world
These theories also discuss the individual as an active navigator or negotiator or investigator of
their social world.
When we look at classical conditioning it’s a theory of passive learning, we simply learn what
events co-occur. No activity that needs to be done by the organism. Operant conditioning theorists and social learning theorists talked more about active navigation.
Active behaviors and the consequences of those behaviors would change how often the behavior
is repeated in the future or not.
Core to all cognitive theories: People have their own lenses of perception that they bring
to any situation or anticipations of situations in the future.
George Kelly is focused on anticipations of future events.
George Kelly : Personal Construct Psychology
Noptice it isn’t called a theory partly cuz Kelly was trying not to create a theory with things
that he proposed as truths
For Kelly, there may not be objective truths and what is important is to look at the subjective
assessment of reality.
So is theory is somewhat amorphous, somewhat malleable. It is broad and its not tied to any one
tradition of thinking.
George Kelly (1905-1967)
"If you want to know what people think, why not ask them? They might just tell you.“ –
Frequent quote from Kelly
He claimed he didn’t believe a word of Freud.
Biography : Clients would come and tell him stuff and he would just make stuff up. He was
toying with ppl with a guise of therapy.
Kelly’s overarching metaphor “The person as scientist”
Popular sort of metaphor in psychology
Psychologists called themselves scientists but did not want to call other people scientists.
We see problems in the world, and we think of ways to approach that goal or ways to explain
that event and then we search for evidence that can confirm or disconfirm our beliefs. So for
Kelly, people were constantly coming up with new ways of looking at the world.
People were changing the constructs/categories/descriptors that people use are updated as they
are tested against reality.
The useful constructs ideally dissipate/disappear, and more useful constructs get
strengthened and people tend to stay with these constructs. People can start out the same but their life experiences can change their behaviors (like what
behaviorists would say)
• Kelly argued that people make sense of their social environment via hypothesis testing
• Kelly would argue that the behavior change would come from how we think about the
• People act essentially like naive scientists. (that person looks friendly, how do we
confirm that, we go and talk 2 them, and if they tlk nice it doesn’t PROVE that they
are, but it is consistent with your expectation )
• Whereas if some is like “leave me alone I don’t wanna tlk with you” it doesn’t prove
that they are unfriendly, but it would be inconsistent with the hypothesis that this person
• Each person develops and uses idiosyncratic cognitive categories for description
– These are our “personal constructs”
So people over their life span come up with idiosyncratic categories. So they have
cognitive categories to describe people.
• Personal Construct Psychology (PCP) adheres to the premise of “constructive
“constructive alternativism” Fancy way of saying “things can be interpreted differently”
For events, they can be interpreted in multiple ways. (Ex. Kid late for class [maybe hes
stooped, maybe he missed bus])
So if one person is dealing with a circumstance in a good way and another person is dealing with
it in a bad way may be that people are interpreting the situation in different ways.
So Kelly has a bunch of postulates and Corollaries
basically Kelly’s theory doesn’t have any self evident truths.
He followed a model of “There will be a postulate that I create and there will be a series of
statements that follow from or help flesh out/explain that first statement.
Kelly didn’t say his theory was the most correct or best way of looking at things.
He just figured his theory would change and be updated. No axioms.
Whereas freud was like “ THERE IS an id and stuff”
Kelly wasn’t was conceited as to think that he knew how everyone was the same. The Fundamental Postulate
“A person’s processes are psychologically channeled by the ways in which they anticipate
(processes = mental processes as well as behavioral processes)
What does this mean?
“The predictions we make about