Chapter 6 - Learning.docx
Chapter 6 – Learning
•Learning: any relatively durable change in behaviour or knowledge that is due to
experience. – A change in behaviour because of something you are exposed to.
•Conditioning: involves learning connections between events that occur in an organism’s
•A type of learning in which stimulus acquires the capacity to evoke a response that was
originally evoked by another stimulus.
•Ivan Pavlov in the 1900’s
•Reflexive responding – involuntary responses
•Pavlov’s experiment: was studying the role of saliva in the digestive processes of dogs
•He placed the dogs in a contraption, restrained in a harness and collected their saliva
through a tube in the salivary glands. A clicking sound was made followed by meat
powder. After the sound and the meat powder were presented together a number of times
the dog became accustomed to the procedure. The dogs would start salivating before the
meat powder was presented.
oEventually the dogs responded to the sound of the clicking alone.
oDogs associated meat powder with a clicking noise
•Neutral stimulus – the conditioned stimulus before conditioning
•Unconditioned stimulus (UCS) – a stimulus that evokes an unconditioned response
without previous condition. Something that causes a natural response.
•Unconditioned response (UCR) – an unlearned reaction to an unconditioned stimulus that
occurs without previous conditioning. a natural response to something
•Conditioned stimulus (CS) – a previously natural stimulus that has, through conditioning,
acquired the capacity to evoke a conditioned response. – Something that does not
naturally cause a response, but that you have learned to associate with a response
•Conditioned response (CR) – a learned reaction to a conditioned stimulus that occurs
because of a previous conditioning. a learned response to something that would not
naturally bring about such a response
•Example: NS – tone UCS – meat powder UCR – salivation CS – tone CR – salivation
•Trial: consists of any presentation of a stimulus or pair of stimuli. Psychologists are
interested in how many trials are required to establish a particular conditioned bond.
•Being bitten by a dog the first few times, and now experiencing a fear response
oNS – dog // UCS – dog bite à UCR – fear symptoms
•Quit smoking, used to have it with morning coffee.
oNS- coffee UCS – cigarette UCR – nicotine CS – coffee CR – expectation of
Classical Conditioning in Everyday Life
•Fear and Anxiety –phobias: irrational fears of specific objects or situations that does not
pose a threat. Can be traced back to experiences that involve classical conditioning
•Evaluative conditioning – changes in the liking of a stimulus that refers result from
pairing that stimulus with other positive or negative stimuli.
oLiking/disliking something because it has been associated with something positive
oAdvertising campaigns – often pair products with attractive/sexual people that
elicit pleasant emotional response. Ex: Cars and outdoor scenes
•Physiological Responses (Drugs) – tolerance, withdrawal, overdose
oCompensatory Conditioned Response – opponent response which have been seen
as a result of conditioning with narcotics
oExample: NS – bar UCS – alcohol UCR – physiological effects CCR – body
compensates for anticipated physiological effects
Basic Processes in Classical Conditioning
•Acquisition – the initial stage of learning something; stimuli that are novel, unusual,
intense have more potential to become CS’
oAcquisition of a conditioned response depends on stimulus contiguity – occur
together in time and space
•Extinction – the gradual weakening and disappearance of a conditioned response tendency
-- If you stop pairing these things together
oConsistent presentation of the CS alone, without the UCS
•Spontaneous Recovery – the reappearance of an extinguished response after a period of
non-exposure to the conditioned stimulus.
oRejuvenated response is weak
oRenewal Effect – if a response is extinguished in a different environment than it
was acquired, the extinguished response will reappear if the animal is returned to
the original environment where he acquisition took place. --Extinction somehow
suppresses a CR rather than erasing a learned association
Explains why people who manage to give up poor eating habits, cigarettes,
or drugs often relapse.
Reason why conditioned fears and phobias are difficult to extinguish
•Stimulus Generalization – occurs when an organism that has learned a response to a
specific stimulus responds in the same way to new stimuli that are similar to the original
oTendency to respond not only to the exact CS, but also to other similar stimuli
oExample: Pavlov’s dogs might have salivated in response to a different-sounding
o“Little Albert” experiment conducted by John B. Watson. Albert was not afraid of
a white rat until it was paired with a loud, startling sound. He created a fear
response and later his fear response generalized to a variety of furry animals.
•Stimulus Discrimination – occurs when an organism that has learned a response to a
specific stimulus does not respond in a same way to new stimuli that are similar to the
oThe less similar new stimuli are to the original CS, the greater the likelihood of
oExample: your dog gets excited when it hears the sound of a your car in the
driveway and not to other cars.
•Instinctive Drift – occurs when an animal’s innate response tendencies interface with
•Taste Aversion – readily able to associate with tastes with negative stimuli (ex: vomiting)
•Trying new food
•Preparedness – involves a species-specific predisposition to be conditioned in a certain
ways and not others
•A form of learning in which responses come to be controlled by their consequences.
•Involves voluntary responses
•Influenced by stimulus events that follow the response – specifically its consequences
•B.F. Skinner in the 1930’s
•Skinner demonstrated that organisms tend to repeat those responses that are followed by
•“Skinner Box” – a rate or pigeon is placed in an operant chamber. (It is a small enclosure
in which an animal can make a specific response that is recorded while the consequences
of the response are systematically controlled.)
In the box, the main response available is pressing a small lever. They must push lever to
get food. (pos. reinfor) There were also light and auditory manipulators, and an electric
grid gives shock. Electric shock stops when the rat presses the lever. (neg,. reinfor)
•Reinforcement – when an event following a response increases an organism’s tendency to
make that response. -- a response is strengthened b/c it leads to rewarding consequences.
(behaviour increases --more likely to happen)
Response stimuli response/behaviour
•Positive Reinforcement - occurs when a response is strengthened because it is followed by
the presentation of a rewarding stimulus. (given)
oResponse à presentation of pleasant stimuli à response/behaviour increases
oex: studying à good grades à study more // bet money àwin money àbet
more money frequently
•Negative reinforcement – occurs when a response is strengthened because it is followed
by the removal of an aversive (unpleasant) stimulus. (taken away)
oResponse à removal unpleasant stimuli à response/behaviour
oex: rushing home in the winter to avoid the cold, cleaning your house to get rid of
the mess, taking medication to get rid of the pain
oex: clean your room à mom stops nagging you à clean room more often increase //
quit hitting snooze/wake up à alarm stops à wake up quicker increase