The Associative Structure of Instrumental Conditioning
Edward Thorndike - Instrumental response occurs in the context of specific environmental stimuli
Three events to consider when analysing instrumental learning: the stimulus context (S), the instrumental response (R), and the
response outcome (O).
- The instrumental response (R) occurs in the presence of the distinctive stimuli (S) and results in the delivery of the response outcome
The S-R Association and the Law of Effect
Believed by Thorndike that it is the key to instrumental learning and the law of effect
Instrumental learning involves the establishment of an S-R association; the role of the reinforcer is to “stamp in” the S-R
The S-R association was disfavoured during the later part of the 20 century but has recently been resurged in S-R mechanism.
Wood and Neal recently proposed a new comprehensive model of human habits that is similar to Thorndike’s S-R Association
Also being used as one of the mechanisms to explain habitual nature of drug addiction (taking the drug of abuse of viewed as an
instrumental behaviour that is initially reinforced by the positive aspects of drug experience, however, with repetitive use, taking
the drug becomes habitual because it becomes and automatics response to contextual cues, without regard to the consequences.
Expectancy of Reward and the S-0 Association
Not considered until approximately 40 years after the law of effect
Reinforcement of the instrumental response will inevitably result in pairing these stimuli (S) with the reinforce of response
outcome (O) (represented by the dashed line in figure 7.1
Earliest and most influential accounts was offered by Clark Hall (1930) and later elaborated by Kenneth Spence.
Two distinct types of learning: Pavlovian and instrumental conditioning
They are related in a special way, during the course of instrumental conditioning the stimuli (S) in the presence of which the
instrumental response is reinforced becoming associated with the response outcome (O) through pavlovian conditioning and this
is the result of an S-O association
Way to test is to use the Pavlovian-Instrumental Transfer Test