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Psych 1000 -Learning Theories - 3.docx

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Western University
Psychology 1000
Dr T Biggs

Learning Theories Overview  Formation of associations  Learning Principles – one vs. two factor theories  Classical (or Pavlovian) conditioning  Operant (or Skinnerian) conditioning  Observational learning  Cognition & Learning What is Learning? Learning is a relatively permanent change in behavior which is independent of the effects of maturation and temporary factors such as fatigue or sensory adaptation Classes of Theories Theories will differ in terms of the language used to describe them Some will be very connectionist while others will be more cognatavistic However, ALL will tend towards abstraction in order to gain generality There are TWO major classes of theories 1. Single Factor 2. Two Factor Single Factor Theories  Assertion is that one type of learning is predominant  One basic process or principle underlies all forms of learning such as: o Principle of Contiguity  Response in the presence of a particular stimuli leads to learning through the formation of an association  Strongly linked to Classical or Pavlovian conditioning  However, it is not entirely absent from the Operant paradigm which may also be interpreted via contiguity o Principle of Reinforcement  Clark Hull’s Original Operant learning paradigm  Contention is that drive reduction is the motivating factor in learning  E.g. Hunger – eat – reduction of drive to eat  However, an unconditioned stimulus may also be interpreted as setting up a drive reduction situation Two Factor Theories  The most notable theorists who have utilized the combination of contiguity and reinforcement in their theories are: o E.L. Thorndike o B.F. Skinner Law of Effect  States that a behavior followed by a satisfying consequence will become more likely to occur while a behavior followed by an unsatisfying outcome will become less likely to occur o Basis of Thorndike’s Instrumental Learning – also became foundation of Behaviorism Theoretical Language  Connectionist vs. Gestalt vs. Cognativistic  Connectionist  In connectionist terms the hypotethical unit “learned” is either an “Association” or a “Habit” or a “Stimulus-Response Bond”  The view of association varies across theories. Some see it as gradual while others see it as a “single” trial ALL or NONE event  Another term common to learning theories is extinction  Some theories it is viewed as the gradual weakening of an association  Other theories view an association as a permanent formation  In these latter theories extinction cannot occur  However, people still tend to refer to the cessation of a behavior in terms of behavior having become extinguished  What is different is the process involved  Rather than a process if gradual weakening some theories postulate that what appears to be extinction is actually a consequence of “counter- conditioning”  Counter-Conditioning is a process through which an existing association is replaces by a newly formed association which produces a behavior which is antagonist or incompatible with the behavior produced by the original association Gestalt Theories  Edward Chase Tolman is the father of this approach to learning o Contrary to the association as the basic unit of learning Tolman postulated the theory of “Purposive Behavior” o This is a Molar concept where behavior (muscle movement) is organized around a specific goal o Consequently the behavior is controlled by Cognitive processes o The single most important contribution of this approach is LATENT learning o Latent Learning refers to the possibility that learning may occur unobserved o Under certain changes in conditions the unobserved learning may manifest itself as a sudden increased efficiency in performance o This view challenges or qualifies ALL views which rely on Drive Reduction as the basis of learning. o It sets the stage for Cognitive views Cognitive Theories  Cognitive approached focus upon: Thoughts, Ideas and Images  This is in direct opposi
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