PSYCH101 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Classical Conditioning, Little Albert Experiment, Learning

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14 Aug 2016
Psychology Notes: Week 4: Developmental Psychology I
- What is behaviourism?
oClassical conditioning:
Pavlov and his dogs.
Had test tubes hooked up to the saliva glands of dogs to collect the
Noticed after a few days of giving them food, that every time he
walked to the dogs to give them food, the saliva would start to
The question became, why are there salivating before the food was
given to them.
UCS unconditioned stimulus,
UCR unconditioned response,
Before conditioning, the food or UCS would produce a UCR where a
neutral stimulus would produce no salivation.
During conditioning, when the UCS is repeatedly presented just after the
neutral stimulus, the UCS to produce an unconditioned response. The
neutral stimulus alone now produces a condition response and therefore
becoming a conditioned stimulus stimulus.
oWhat is learning and unlearning?
Classical conditioning: learning is the association of a conditioned
stimulus or a neutral stimulus with an unconditioned stimulus to the extent
that the conditioned stimulus produces the unconditioned response.
Pavlov didn’t understand the implication but John Watson took the ideas
of Pavlov.
Watson thought that you shouldn’t study thoughts but what is
observable. Uses Pavlovian principles to teach.
oHad a child test subject called Little Albert and taught him
to be terrified of anything that is soft and furry.
oIdea was you could teach someone something that doesn’t
make any sense and that they could learn to be a afraid.
oBeginnings of phobias.
Process of Generalization:
Occurs when the conditioned stimulus is changed slightly, and the
conditioned response still happens.
Occurs when a conditioned stimulus is changed, and the
conditioned response doesn’t happen.
Starting of unlearning.
Could’ve been that Little Albert whose afraid of rats but not dogs.
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Occurs when the conditioned stimulus, now the unconditioned
response no longer produces the response.
According to the theory, extinction should happen eventually if the
unconditioned stimuli is no longer paired with the conditioned
Problems with Classical Conditioning:
Only behaviour that can be affected is one that the organism would
normally do.
You can’t get the organism to do new behaviours.
oOperant Conditioning:
Allows for behaviours that wouldn’t naturally occur,
Skinner proposed that any behaviours that one engages in has been learnt
through operant conditioning.
Behaviour that is rewarded will occur more often in the future,
behaviour that isn’t rewarded will occur less frequently.
Almost all behaviour, according to Skinner, is shaped in this way.
What skinner argued and demonstrated conclusively was that
complex behaviours can be shaped through rewards.
Skinner and his pigeons,
By rewarding pigeons with food for doing behaviours that he
wanted them to do, he could teach them to do great things.
Learning is the acquisition of new behaviours
Types of Reinforcer:
Positive reinforce: getting good things,
Negative reinforces: removing bad things, (good thing still)
Both positive and negative reinforcers actually promote
behaviours, make them more likely to occur.
Negative reinforcement isn’t a punishment,
oHe thought that punishment was a bad way to teach,
oWhen things happen that are perceived as bad, or when
good things are removed, you don’t know what to do.
oPunishment lead to inaction rather than action; learning
should be about producing actions.
Primary Reinforcer: pleasant in their own right,
Conditioned (secondary) reinforcers: pleasant through association.
oThis builds on classical conditioning because we’ve
associated the conditioned stimuli with the unconditioned
stimulus (aka. Money and what you can buy from it)
oOne thing in common with Classical and Operant Conditioning:
Both argued that to understand behaviours and where it comes from has
nothing to do with inside the head, thoughts are epiphenomenon (things
that are there but have no importance or influence)
All you need is what can be observed.
Any behaviour can be explained without looking at thoughts.
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oLanguage Acquisition:
How is it that we learn to speak?
Skinner argued language was learnt through reinforcement,
Basic idea is that children receive all kinds of reinforcement and
affection from their parents when they first start to babble, and
carries on as a child begins using words and sentences.
Chomsky: He was a linguist not a psychologist,
Believed that language was innate, that there was an inborn ability
to learn language,
There’s a critical period early on in which everyone learns
Argued that skinner was naïve in thinking that parents could teach
their children to talk simply though the use of reinforcement.
Bottom line:
Behaviourism is clearly wrong in this debate,
Children learn language incredibly fast,
Babies can actually hear all the different ranges of sounds that
people make,
After about a year, children’s brains become used to the language
that they hear, and can no longer hear certain sounds.
Children can learn thousands of words a day,
All of this suggest that they’re not learning by reinforcement, but
that there is a built-in ability to learn language.
oObservational Learning:
The Bobo Doll
Bandura: people don’t have to learn through rewards or punishment, but
could learn by watching others.
In order for this to happen one must have thoughts to intervene between
what’s going on.
Not just simple matter of being rewarded but had to make inferences
between rewards and actions and others.
The adults were in the play room first and the children looked, the adult
proceeded to beat up the Bobo doll.
The child who didn’t see the adult hit the Bobo doll hit it 2 times,
The child who did see the adult beat it an average of 60 times.
According to bandura, they learned how to be violent,
Felt that this had some implications for the effect of violence on
Argued that children learn that its good to be violent by watching
people being rewarded for it.
What it did was say to behaviourism, the thoughts do matter.
oThe Big Picture:
Big difference between nature versus nurture:
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