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Lecture 5

PSY230H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Operant Conditioning Chamber, Human Behavior, Empiricism

Course Code
Maja Djikic

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Lecture 5- Behavior and Learning Theories (pg.217--251)
•The best perspective from which one can view a person is from the
•To understand a person, look at their behavior
•Knowledge that does not come from direct public observation is invalid
•Introspection is invalid because no one can verify someone‟s
Personality is a sum total of one’s behaviors
•Everything you do constitutes your personality-- can determine the cause
of a behavior- it stems from the environment
•Causes of behavior can be observed as directly as the behavior itself
•It is because the causes are contained in one‟s environment
•“Environment” doesn‟t refer to trees and rivers, but to rewards and
punishments contained in physical and social world
Functional Analysis
•The question: In what way is behavior a function of environment?
•Environment àBehavior
•àrepresents „learning‟
•Learning is any change of behavior as a function of one‟s experience
with environment
•We are not the cause of behavior-- wat in environment caused this
•Environment seen as the ultimate and only cause of behavior
Philosophical Roots
•Everything we know comes from our experience
•Structure of reality determines the structure of the mind
•Imprints itself onto mind
•The newborn mind is „tabula rasa blank slate, ready to be written
upon by experience. Life writes itself on our tablet
•Conceptualization of knowledge as including simple associations
between small facts leads to the research strategy called reductionism
•Understand a large phenomenon by breaking it down into small

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constituent parts
•Ex. Doctor may send u to a specialist to check if that one part is working
•Personality, then, consists of person‟s inventory of learned associations,
or even physiological mechanisms, that can be considered separately
•Claim that two things, or two ideas, or thing and an idea, become
mentally associated together if they are repeatedly experienced as close
together in time
•Ex. Thunder and lighting associated bc come one after another
•Philosophers such as Hobbes, Locke, and Hume, believed that these two
ideas, empiricism and associationism, were sufficient enough to explain
the basis of all knowledge
•Causal things are close in time
•Motivation? Why behave?
•Hedonism- pleasure seeking
•People (and organisms in general) learn in order to do just two things:
seek pleasure and avoid pain
•This is why rewards and punishments can shape behavior
•Purpose of life it to be free of pain to and to pursue aesthetic enjoyment
and piece of mind
•The Epicurean ideal leads to utilitarianism
•The best society is the social arrangement that creates the most
happiness for the largest number of people
•What is happiness?- cant impose one way of happiness? Happiness
comes with certain emotions-- happiness isn't always precise, but its a
signal- but people really want fulfillment and joy- when we think of how
we create societies: why aim to continue being in a state when you have
signal rather than be in state of fulfillment
•Russian physiologist who was first to demonstrate that natural or
spontaneous responses could be made conditional upon the appearance of
an unnatural stimulus
•You can conditions dog to anything that they can sense
•Classical (Pavlovian) conditioning

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•Unconditioned stimulus (meat powder)
•Unconditioned response (salivation)
•Conditioned stimulus (light/bell)
•Conditioned response (salivation)
•Associationism: stimuli experienced together
•Pavlov found unconditioned stimuli must be experienced just before the
conditioned stimuli
•Not a simple case of combining simple concepts, but a mechanisms
through which the meaning of one concept changes the meaning of
•Another form of conditioning first studied by Pavlovians has come to be
called instrumental conditioning
•In classical conditioning, the animal does not have to carry out any
contributory behavior in order for it to be reinforced
•Some of Pavlov‟s associates modified their procedure so that after the
bell was sounded or light flashed, they flexed a dog‟s leg manually and
then blew the meat powder into the dog‟s mouth
•After a few presentations of the stimulus, the dog began flexing the leg
without experimenter having to touch the animal
•The dog was automatically anticipating the reward to follow leg flexion,
and was doing something to ensure that reward would come about
•This is what instrumental means: an animal‟s behavior is a contributing
factor (an instrumentality) in the sequence of conditioning
•Pavlov was a dog-person, Thorndike was a cat-person
•Hungry cats in puzzle-boxes
•By accident somehow it finds a button or something that opened door
•Change in escape time happened gradually
•Cat did not „understand‟
•Specific responses strengthened through pairing with pleasant outcomes
•More likely to do it
•Father of behaviorism
•He coined the term and initiated behaviorism as a psychological
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