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Learning Theories.docx

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Psychology 1000
Terry Biggs

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Learning Theories  Pavlov, Thorndike and Skinner  Believed only observable behaviour is relevant to psychology  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. • How you learn ANYTHING • Some will be very connectionist while other 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 THEORIES  Assertion is that one type of learning is predominant  One basic process or principle underlies all forms of learning such as: 1. 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 2. 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 2. TWO FACTOR  The most notable Theorists who have utilized the combination of Contiguity and Reinforcement in their theories are:  E.L. Thorndike and 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. • Basis of Thorndike’s Instrumental Learning • Also became foundation of Behaviorism Theoretical Language • Connectionist vs. Gestalt vs. Cognativistic • Connectionist • In connectionist terms the hypothetical 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 • In 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 the behavior having become extinguished • What is different is the process involved • Rather than a process of 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 Replaced by a newly formed association which produces a behavior which is antagonistic or incompatible with the behavior produced by the original
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