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Chapter 15

Chapter 15 Learning to be a Person - Textbook Notes

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McMaster University
Richard B Day

Psych 2B03 2012 Part VI: What Personality Does: Learning, Thinking, Feeling and Knowing Chapter 15: Learning To Be A Person: Behaviorism and Social Learning Theories Behaviorism The Philosophical Roots of Behaviorism  Empiricism  Associationism  Hedonism and Utilitarianism Three Kinds of Learning  Habituation  Classical Conditioning o How Classical Conditioning Works o Classical Conditioning and Physiology o S-R Conception of Personality  Operant Conditioning o The Law of Effect: Thorndike o Techniques of Operant Conditioning: Skinner o The Causes of Behaviour Punishment  How to Punish  The Dangers of Punishment Social Learning Theory  Wolfgang Kohler – believed that behaviorism does not tell the whole story; studied chimpanzees and would set up puzzles for them o Puzzle – would hang a banana out of reach and see chimpanzees solution to reaching banana; sometimes very clever; stacking boxes, using a pole as a vault  chimps had not learned from reward, but came to understand situation and developed insight; once chimp realized what behaviour would get the banana, they used tactic immediately, not gradually  Social Learning Theory arose to correct some of the shortcomings of behaviorism 1. Ignores motivation, thought and cognition o Behaviorists demy that thinking is important; sometimes deny its existence – never conduct research on it o Social learning theorists claim that the ways people think, plan, perceive and believe are important parts of learning – research must address these processes 2. Based on research using animals o Hope to formulate laws of learning that are relevant to all species – but not all species are the same o Behaviorists concentrated too much on elements of learning that are important for animals (eg/ reinforcement) – not enough time spent on aspects that are important for human learning (eg/ solving problem by thinking about it) 3. Ignores the social dimension of learning o Eg/ pigeon in a Skinner box is alone; cannot interact with, learn from or influence any other animal – in real life, learning is social 4. Treats the organism as essentially passive o Animal is put into situation – rules of what will and will not be rewarded may be automated o Eg/ pigeon did not seek out Skinner box; unless it pushes the bar, there will be no food pellets – humans are not in situations like this o Humans choose their environments, and change the environments as a result of what we do in them  Three social learning theories were proposed to expand behaviorism in response to one or more of these shortcomings Dollard and Miller’s Social Learning Theory  John Dollard and Neal Miller – psychologists at Yale during the 1940’s-50’s  Habit Hierarchy – the behaviour most likely to be performed at a given moment resides at the top of ones habit hierarchy; least likely at the bottom o The effects of rewards, punishments and learning is to rearrange the habit hierarchy  Rewarded behaviours become more likely, punished behaviours become less likely  Skinner (Behaviorism) – claimed that learning changes behaviour  Dollard and Miller (Social Learning Theory) – claimed that learning changes the arrangement of an unobservable psychological entity (habit hierarchy  the personality)  An individuals history of learning produces a distinctive arrangement of behaviours that are more and less likely to be performed 1 Psych 2B03 2012  Understanding the arrangement of the habit hierarchy is the best way to understand the person  Motivation and Drives o Needs produce psychological drives o Drive – state of psychological tension that feels good when the tension is reduced  Pleasure comes from satisfying the need to produce the drive  Primary Drives – need for food, water, physical comfort, avoidance of physical pain, sexual gratification etc  Secondary Drives – positive drives of love, prestige, money, power; negative drives of avoiding fear and humiliation o There can be no reinforcement (or behavioural change) without reducing a drive o Drive-Reduction Theory – for a reward to have the power to encourage the target behaviour, the reward must satisfy a need  Analysis implies that in the ideal state of existence, all needs have been satisfied, people have no more motivations – questionable because that does not seem desirable and because people tend to want to raise level of need  Frustration and Aggression o Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis – the natural, biological reaction of any person (or animal) to being blocked from a goal is to be frustrated with the resulting urge to lash out and injure  The more important the blocked goal, the greater the frustration, the greater the aggressive impulse  Preferred target of aggression is the source of the frustration; displacement (borrowed from Freud) described how aggressive impulse can be redirected  Psychological Conflict o Approach-Avoidance Conflict – addresses the conflict between desire and fear, and the way it can change over time; five assumptions 1. An increase in drive strength will increase the tendency to approach or avoid a goal 2. Whenever there are two competing responses, the stronger will win out (stronger = greatest drive strength) 3. The tendency to approach a positive goal increases the closer the goal becomes 4. The tendency to avoid a negative goal increases the closer the goal becomes 5. Tendency 4 (avoiding negative) is closer than tendency 3 (approaching positive) – avoidance gradient is steeper than approach gradient Rotter’s Social Learning Theory  Julian Rotter’s version of social learning theory primarily concerns decision making and the role of expectancies  Expectancy Value Theory – assume that behavioural decisions are determined not just by the presence or size of reinforcements, but also by beliefs about the likely results of behaviour o If a reinforcement is attractive, you are not likely to pursue it if your chances of success are slim o Behaviour may be motivated if changes of getting reinforcement is good, even if not desirable o Eg/ Choosing between two job interviews; one pays higher but has a lower chance of getting it, one pays lower but has a better chance of getting it – most likely go for the lower paying job  Expectancy and Locus of Control o Expectancy for a Behaviour – an individuals belief, or subjective probability, about how likely it seems that the behaviour will attain its goal  Does not matter whether behaviour is actually likely to bring success or not – if you think it will, you will try, if you do not think it will work, you will not try o Classic Behaviorism – focuses on actual rewards and punishments o Rotter’s SLT – focuses on beliefs about rewards and punishments; these beliefs shape behaviour, even when they are inaccurate o Specific Expectancy – belief that a certain behaviour, at a certain time and place, will lead to a specific outcome o Generalized Expectancy – general beliefs about whether anything you do is likely to make a difference  Low generalized expectancy – belief that what happens is not under own control; tend to be lethargic and depressed  External Locus of Control  High generalized expectancy – belief that reinforcement is a direct function of what they do; tend to be energetic and highly motivated  Internal Locus of Control  Locus of Control can vary across domains (have internal for one subject and external for another) Bandura’s Social Learning Theory  Albert Bandura – built off Rotter; most influential social learning theory 2 Psych 2B03 2012 o Rotter – ideas lead to theories about and measurements of individual differences o Bandura – less emphasis to stable differences between people  Efficacy Expectations –perceived probability that you can do something in the first place o Similar to Rotter’s “expectancies” – perceived conditional probability that if you do something you can attain your goal; belief about reinforcement (was a key agent of behaviour) o Both refer to the belief that one can accomplish something successfully; phenomenological implication that ones interpretation of reality is more important than reality itself o Efficacy Expectation/Self-Efficacy – belief about the self, about what the person is capable of doing o Self-Concept affects efficacy expectation; efficacy expectations can interact with/be determined by
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