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Lecture 5

Lecture 5 - Learning

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Richard Ennis

Lecture 5: Learning Learning as Contiguity - Associations • How we put things together in our mind. o (i.e.: Chevy + girl example) 1. Pretty girl  arousal 2. Chevy  no arousal 3. Pretty girl + Chevy = arousal 4. Chevy  arousal • John Locke; all learning is a consequence of this building associations. o Tabula rasa: children are born as blank slates, and experiences are written onto them. Through these associations, the child learns about the things in their world. o i.e.: Mommy + milk association • Ivan Pavlov; a biologist, not a psychologist, but best known for his psychology research. Received a Nobel Prize for his works with the digestive system. o Conducted experiments looking into a dog’s digestive system through a window he surgically installed. o “Psychic secretions” occurred as Pavlov called them, when the dogs were starved and then shown food. o Classical (Pavlovian) Conditioning: “Pavlov’s Dog” 1. food  salivation 2. bell  no salivation 3. bell + food = salivation 4. bell  salivation Existing Stimulus-Response Unconditioned Stimulus Unconditioned Response Behaviour (food) (salivation) Neutral Stimulus (bell) No salivation New Stimulus-Response Neutral Stimulus (bell) + Unconditioned Response Behaviour Unconditioned Stimulus (salivation) (food) Behavioural Change Conditioned Stimulus (bell) Conditioned Response (salivation) • Classical conditioning does not require conscious effort. It occurs naturally. • Learning is a relatively permanent acquisition of new behaviour as a result of experience. Anything that can be learned can be unlearned as well. o Acquisition: beginning to make the association between objects. o Extinction: if the neutral and unconditioned stimuli aren’t paired together for a protracted period of time, the new stimulus response weakens. o Generalization: any stimuli that we perceive as being similar to the conditioned stimulus also acquires the ability to illicit the response. o Discrimination: the dog has the ability to discriminate among possible stimuli (i.e.: bell vs. flashing light, one pitch of bell vs. another). -Learning Concepts • John Broadus “Swats” Watson (1878-1958): o As a child, he wasn’t a good student and had many run-ins with the law. o He was admitted to college due to his mother’s religious connections. o When a professor told him to not put his final project in the wrong order, of course he did. His professor failed him as promised, causing Watson to not be admitted to Princeton. Watson devises a plan to later on make this professor’s life a living hell… o He is hired to John Hopkins’s University once he gets his PhD (along the lines of his plan). The chair of the psychology dept. is dismissed due to a scandal concerning a grad student, and Watson is given the position at age 29. He hires his old professor that failed him, but the professor gets sick, and Watson’s revenge never occurs. o Watson was the father of the Behavioralist Movement; bringing Pavlov’s theory to the forefront of psychology.  “Little Albert” studies (1920’s); Pavlov’s dog theory revisited using a child. Albert is given a live rabbit, and has an affinity for it. While he is playing with it, Watson and his grad student Rayner sneak up behind him and bang a gong (obviously scaring him). They repeat this until Albert acquires the association; now fearing not only rabbits, but anything that resembles it. Watson is the creator of the concepts used in advertising today (Chevy + Pretty Girl). Learning as Contingency • Edward Thorndike (1874-1949); using chickens and cats, he conducts experiments which leads him to a new form of learning. o Constructs a “puzzle box”, placing some food outside the box as incentive. A lever is placed inside the box to raise the closed door, which the cat can push down to get out to the food.
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