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Chapter 10

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PSYC 2330
Francesco Leri

Chapter Ten – Aversive Control: Avoidance and Punishment Avoidance procedure: the individual has to make a specific response to prevent an aversive stimulus from occurring. Involves a negative contingency between an instrumental response and the aversive stimulus. If the response occurs, the aversive stimulus is omitted. Putting your hand on a railing to avoid slipping. Sometimes referred to as active avoidance Punishment: involves a positive contingency: the target response produces the aversive outcome. If you touch a hot stove, you will get burned! Sometimes referred to as passive avoidance -Avoidance procedures increase the occurrence of instrumental behaviour, whereas punishment procedures suppress instrumental responding. Avoidance Behaviour Origins of the Study of Avoidance Behaviour -Originated in the studies of classical conditioning -First conducted by Vladimir Bechterev: interested in studying associative learning in human subjects -Participants placed hand on metal plate, tone went off then shock, caused participant to decide whether they were exposed to US (shock) The Discriminated Avoidance Procedure -Investigators have been concerned with the importance of the warning signal in avoidance procedures and the relation of such warning signals to the US and the instrumental response. Discriminated, or signaled avoidance: Involves discrete trials, each trial is initiated by the warning stimulus (CS). The events after that depend on what the subject does. -If the subject makes the target response before the shock is delivered, the CS is turned off and the US is omitted in that trial. This is a successful avoidance trial -If the fails to make the required response during the CS-US interval, the shock appears and the CS and US remain on until the required response is done. This is called an Escape Trial. -Discriminated avoidance procedures are usually done in a shuttle box, called shuttle avoidance. There are two types: 1. Two-way shuttle avoidance: when the animal moves from one side of the shuttle box to the other on different trials 2. One-Way shuttle avoidance: when the animal starts each trial on one specific side, and moves away from the US to same direction every time. It is easier to learn than two-way. Two-Process Theory of Avoidance Fundamental question in the study of avoidance: Can the absence of something provide reinforcement for instrumental behaviour? -Two mechanisms are involved in avoidance learning: 1. Classical conditioning of fear to the CS: Classical conditioning process activated by pairings of the warning stimulus (CS) with the aversive event (US) on trials when the organism fails to make the avoidance response. 2. Instrumental reinforcement of the avoidance response through fear reduction: learning that the instrumental avoidance response occurs because the response terminated the CS thereby reduces the conditioned fear elicited by the CS. -It explains avoidance behaviour in terms of escape from conditioned fear rather than in terms of prevention of shock. Experimental Analysis of Avoidance Behaviour Acquired-Drive Experiments -Attempting to demonstrate the classical conditioning of fear and the instrumental reinforcement through fear reduction in a situation where these two types of conditioning are not intermixed and make separate contributions to avoidance learning. -First condition fear to a CS in a classical conditioning procedure. -Second subjects are periodically exposed to the dear-eliciting CS, and allowed to make instrumental responses to turn off the CS -More recently this procedure has been referred to as the Escape form fear (FFE) paradigm Independent Measurement of Fear During Acquisition -This approach is based on the assumption that if fear motivates and reinforces avoidance responding, then the conditioning of fear and the conditioning of instrumental avoidance behaviour should go hand in hand. -Contrary to this prediction, however, conditioned fear and avoidance responding are not always highly correlated. E.g. Dogs become less fearful as they become proficient in performing avoidance responding, because they are aware that they can stop the aversive stimulus. -Successful avoidance behaviour is associated with low levels of fear and low expectations of danger Extinction of Avoidance Behaviour Through Response-Blocking and CS-Alone Exposure -Since avoidance responses can become persistent how might avoidance behaviour be extinguished? Flooding or response prevention: Presenting the CS in the avoidance situation without the US, but with the apparatus altered in such a way that the participant is prevented from making the avoidance response. -Flooding responses have two important components: 1. Being exposed to the CS without the aversive stimulus: blocked exposure to the CS facilitates extinction of the avoidance response. The effect is determined by the total duration of exposure to CS 2. Blocking access to the avoidance response also facilitates extinction. Non-Discriminated (Free-Operant) Avoidance -Can subjects still learn an avoidance response if there is no external warning stimulus in the situation? -Sidman devised an avoidance conditioning procedure that did not involve a warning stimulus called non- discriminated, or free-operant avoidance. - The aversive stimulus (shock) is scheduled to occur periodically without warning. E.g. every five seconds. Each time the subject makes an avoidance response it gets a period of safety. E.g. 15 seconds. Repetition of the avoidance response before the safe period is over, starts the safe period over again. -Constructed from two time intervals: 1. The intervals between shocks in the absence of a response. Called the S-S clock (shock-shock) interval. In the example it was 5 seconds 2. The interval between the avoidance response and the next scheduled shock. Called the R-S clock (Response-shock) interval. In the example it was 15 seconds Free-Operant Avoidance and Two-Process Theory -Free-Operant Avoidance behaviour presents a challenge for two-process theory because there is no explicit CS, but the maintain that because the S-S and R-S intervals are rather short, the passage of time can be responded to and used as a signal for shock. Alternative theoretical Accounts of Avoidance Behaviour Positive Reinforcement Through Conditioned Inhibition of Fear or Conditioned Safety Signals -The avoid
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