Chapter 2: Theories (1 of 2)
I. What function do theories play in the research process?
Theories put forth systematic and coherent explanations of the relationship between phenomena
(i.e., a reason why two things/variables are associated with each other).
Theories also put forth concepts, which play an important role in research. For example, a theory
states how concepts are defined, which supports the process of operationalization.Additionally,
you’ll notice that concepts represent many of the variables (IV or DV) that are described or causally
tested in various research studies.
Consequently, the primary purpose of the chapter two lectures is to ensure that you have a thorough
understanding of the concepts that the learning, cognitive and systems theories put forth.
II. Review of Theoretical Concepts
A. Learning Theories: Pavlov, Skinner and Bandura
1) Pavlov – focuses on behaviours/emotions – “S-R” theory (stimulus response)
2) Skinner – focuses on behaviours – “Behaviourism”
3) Bandura – focuses on behaviours, emotions, knowledge, beliefs; social learning, social
cognitive (learning theory vs. cognitive theory – category depends on textbook)
What do the three learning theories have in common?
- Describe 3 different ways of learning
o New behaviours
o New emotions
o New knowledge
o New beliefs
- All 3 theories focus on external factors that contribute
1. Pavlov’s Theory of Classical Conditioning
• Insight for Pavlov’s theory came from his investigations into the function of saliva (dogs
a) Pavlov’s Key Concepts (in bold)
• Unconditioned stimuli – (UCS) – something that naturally/biologically triggers an unlearned
• Unconditioned response – (UCR) – unlearned behavior/emotion*
* not “learning”
• Conditioned stimuli – (CS) – something that is paired/presented with the unconditioned stimulus
that results in new behaviours/ motions being learned
o E.g. Bell
• Conditioned response – learned behavior/emotion (same behavior/emotion as UCR)
1 o E.g. Saliva
• Example: Why might some infants turn their head away during breastfeeding?
Smothering (UCS) Turn their head (UCR)
Breastfeeding (CS) Turn their head (CR)
b) Applications: Use Pavlov’s concepts to explain how a parent might become associated with a feeling of security
and/or fear in an infant.
? (UCS) Security (UCR)
Parents (CS) Security (CR)
Physical punishment (UCS) Fear (UCR)
Parents (CS) Fear (CR)
2. Skinner’s Theory of Operant Conditioni