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Lecture 10

01:830:101 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Operant Conditioning Chamber, Operant Conditioning, BehaviorismPremium


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Lawrence Jacobs

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Chapter 6: Learning [Continued]
Thorndike - The Law of Effect
Psychological principle that states that behaviors that result in satisfying consequences
will be reinforced and become more likely to reoccur.
Example: Basketball players have a preferred method of shooting their foul shots
due to the satisfying results (baskets made) they achieve with it.
Can also be reversed, with behaviors that result in irritating consequences becoming
less reinforced, thus, becoming less likely to reoccur.
Modern psychologists consider this a description of operant conditioning.
B.F. Skinner - Founder of Operant Conditioning
Labelled as one of the most influential radical behaviorist due to his proposal of operant
conditioning, which was a method that involves the reinforcement of good behavior with
a reward and weakening it with a punishment.
Operant Conditioning refers to the idea that an individual learns by receiving a reward or
punishment after the operation of a certain type of behavior.
Example: When a rat learns that pressing a lever gets it more food, it has
become operantly conditioned to push the lever.
Example: When a child screams and gets her way, she has been operantly
conditioned that doing it again will yield the same results.
Learning where voluntary behavior is encouraged through reinforcement, and
discouraged through some sort of penalty or simply not being reinforced.
Skinner began his studies in the 1930s, and for decades would use chambers, known as
Skinner Boxes, to study the behavior of animals, usually rats or pigeons.
Operant Chamber of The Skinner Box
Skinner used the principles of Thorndike’s law of effect as a foundation for his own
studies, and developed the operant conditioning chamber, which was known as the
Skinner Box by others.
The chamber came with a bar or key that needed to be operated by the animal inside to
obtain food or water, which served as the reinforcer.
Shaping Behavior
Shaping is the act of producing continuous changes in the behavior of an individual, and
guiding it in a desired direction through the use of reward or reinforcement.
B.F. Skinner advocated for the studying of behavior within a closed and controlled
environment, like the one his creation, the Skinner Box, provided. Rather than
naturalistic observations, he prefered to a much more controlled area that prevented any
outside factors to get in the way of the study’s purpose.
In his studies, an animal would be reinforced for behaviors that approached the
target activity until it fully performed the desired behavior.
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