Psych 1010 Lecture 8
Continued from last week’s lecture which we started with a small recap of what we learned before-
Positive Reinforcement or Sr+ is to add something pleasant to the situation, e.g. giving the dog a treat
every time it does its thing in the proper area and not on the rug. The adding of the treat is the Sr+.
Likewise negative reinforcement or Sr- is to take away something which is unpleasant (do not confuse
this with taking away something pleasant, that would be negative punishment) e.g. to take out a stone
which got stuck in your shoe so you can walk comfortably. The mind telling the body to take away the
annoying stone is the Sr-.
Both Sr+ and Sr- is usually a good thing and they increase the potential re-occurring of behaviour. I.e.
the dog will always take a leak in the right place, which is good for your rugs and carpets, and you will
develop a habit of checking your shoes for stones before you put them on which is good for you feet and
brand new Nikes™.
Now we move onto punishment which, depending on whether you’re the punisher or the punished, is
a bad thing.
Positive punishment- is to add something unpleasant to the situation. E.g. every time you get a wrong
answer on a spelling B you get a free kick to the bum. The addition of the kick is the positive
Negative punishment- is to remove something pleasant in the situation. E.g. your dad takes away your
Xbox 360 because you flunked your math test, just when Call of Duty Black ops had to come out. The
taking away of the Xbox is the negative punishment.
Punishment should be immediate and consistent if it’s going to work properly. You can’t just slap a kid
for making a mess in the hall 3 days after he did it and it would make no sense for slapping him for no
reason and saying “just in case”...
There are alternatives to punishment
1/ reinforce the alternative desirable behaviour. Instead of telling the kid off every time she attempts
to do a chalk masterpiece on the wall and forgets to rub it off, praise her highly every time she does so
she gets the idea that cleaning up has its benefits.
2/ ignore the unwanted behaviour. You guys should have been here when she described this, bottom
line, when you got a kid who’s swearing, on a side note, never play a hardcore game of call of duty when
babysitting your 5 year old nephew, I'm just saying, it’s usually a better option to ignore it if the situation
allows so and he’ll probably stop doing it. However if you start freaking out on him, it could only prompt
the little bugger to keep swearing over and over again. So as a quick summary of what’s going on here in case your still confused (can’t blame you), do not
take the terms “positive’ and “negative” in a way that means “good” and “bad”. Reinforcement,
whether positive or negative is usually good, and punishment, whether positive or negative is usually
bad. What the terms “positive” and “negative” really mean here is that same as you hopefully learned
in the 1 grade, to add or to subtract. I'm pretty sure you’d be able to figure out the rest.
Positive + Add something pleasant Add something unpleasant
Negative - Take away something unpleasant Take away something pleasant
Chapter 16- social behaviour, is based on two parts
1/ Social cognition- the study in which the ways in which we perceive and evaluate others or how the
behaviour of the people around you influences yourself. E.g. when MJ showed up with a new hairstyle,
every other guy started getting it because the girls liked it.
2/ Social influence- the study of the ways in which we influence each other’s behaviours decisions and
beliefs. E.g. when you buy a freshly baked, tasty looking donut at tummies, the person behind you in line
might want one too.
Stanley Milgram (1963) was a behaviourist who was known for his controversial experiments which
were carried out to examine the social influence and to measure up to what extent that a person would
be willing to obey an authoritative figure even if they had to go against their guilty conscience.
To do this, he set up an experiment which is outlined perfectly in Wikipedia where i got the rest of this
stuff from because it’s too long to type out myself:
“The subject was given the title teacher, and the confederate (an actor used in psychological
experiments), learner. The participants drew slips of paper to 'determine' their roles. Unknown to them,
both slips said "teacher", and the actor claimed to have the slip that read "learner", thus guaranteeing
that the participant would always be the "teacher". At this point, the "teacher" and "learner" were
separated into different rooms where they could communicate but not see each other. In one version of
the experiment, the confederate was sure to mention to the participant that he had a heart condition.
The "teacher" was given an electric shock from the electro-shock generator as a sample of the shock
that the "learner" would supposedly receive during the experiment. The "teacher" was then given a list
of word pairs which he was to teach the learner. The teacher began by reading the list of word pairs to
the learner. The teacher would then read the first word of each pair and read four possible answers. The
learner would press a button to indicate his response. If the answer was incorrect, the teacher would
administer a shock to the learner, with the voltage increasing in 15-volt increments for each wrong
answer. If correct, the teacher would read the next word pair. The subjects believed that for each wrong answer, the learner was receiving actual shocks. In reality,
there were no shocks. After the confederate was separated from the subject, the confederate set up a
tape recorder integrated with the electro-shock generator, which played pre-recorded sounds for each
shock level. After a number of voltage level increases, the actor started to bang on the wall that
separated him from the subject. After several times banging on the wall and complaining about his heart
condition, all responses by the learner would cease.
At this point, many people indicated their desire to stop the experiment and check on the learner. Some
test subjects paused at 135 volts and began to question the purpose of the experiment. Most continued
after being assured that they would not be held responsible. A few subjects began to laugh nervously or
exhibit other signs of extreme stress once they heard the screams of pain coming from the learner.
If at any time the subject indicated his desire to halt the experiment, he was given a succession of verbal
prods by the experimenter, in this order-
1. Please continue.
2. The experiment requires that you continue.
3. It is absolutely essential that you continue.
4. You have no other choice, you must go on.
If the subject still wished to stop after all four successive verbal prods, the experiment was halted.
Otherwise, it was halted after the subject had given the maximum 450-volt shock three times in
This is the experiment looked like (taken from Wiki, I don’t want to get sued for copyright violations)-
E- The experimenter, who knew
what was going on and issued the
orders for the “teacher” to
T- The “teacher” who was an actual
continue to experiment every paid volunteer who didn’t really
time he showed signs of he know what the hell was going on,
hesitated, while also recording
just asking questions from the
the timings “student” and administering shocks
every time he got a wrong answer.
The results of the experiment
depended on how much he was
willing to obey.
L- The “learner” who was actually an actor or confederate whom the teacher believed to be
real and was the one who “received” the shocks and told the teacher to stop the experiment.
He was covered by a screen so the teacher and the experimenter could only hear him and not
see him. These were the following variations and outcomes of the experiment
1/ remote condition where the actor and the shock experiment which is described as above.
Level of obedience- 65%
2/ Voice feedback where the teacher could see the experimenter but could hear him-
Level of obedience- 62.5%
3/ proximity condition where the teacher and the learner could both see each other-
Level of obedience- 40%
4/ touch proximity where the teacher had the take the learners hand and place it on the electric
Level of obed