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PSY426H1 Lecture Notes - Reward System

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Jason Plaks

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The psychological effects of insufficient rewards. (Festinger, 1961) [First half]
-a situation has been produced where the organism has two pieces of information or cognitions
which do not fit together, to form a dissonant condition
a) for example, working hard in preparation for an event
b) the event is not likely to occur
a) endured pain to attain an objective
b) the objective is not very attractive
-reasoning: dissonance occurs because psychologically, the obverse of one cognition follows
from the other
-to reduce dissonance:
a) persuade himself the pain endured was not actually painful, or
b) the objective is actually very attractive
c) discontinue behaviour-> but Festinger only considers situations in which this option is
not available
-the acting individual analyses:
a) action, as voluntary
b) the environment, or the result or reward
-suggests resistance to extinction is greater after partial reward than after complete reward
-cognition: for research purposes, defined as being able to have behavioural differences observed
when the environment changes
1) nonreward-> dissonance leads to rats stopping behaviour
2) partial reward-> extra preference for behaviour or reward
3) extinction-> overcome preference before stopping behaviour
-extends to any procedure which introduces dissonance should increase resistence to extinction
because of dissonance reduction, for example, delay of reward
- with experiments with rats:
1) first introduce rats to a choice of behaviours or rewards, to test out basically which
behaviours or rewards are “better” or “worse”
2) then introduce rats to a nonchoice situation of the “worse” behaviours or rewards, and
experiments show the rats would show greater resistence to extinction to the “worse”
situations compared to the “better” situations
-partial reward involves the same psychological processes as delay of reward
-“The basis of [expectancy, or conditioning of cues, or any of a number of other varieties] is
clearly not very useful in explaining the increased resistance to extinction after delay of reward”
-holding effort during extinction constant, the more effort required during acquisition, the more
resistance there is to extinction
Festinger [Textbook version]
Participants were given a list of definitions for symbols and were told to familiarize themselves
with the list so that they could be tested on it later.
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