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Chapter 1

PSYC 2330 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Observational Techniques, Empiricism, Pineal Gland


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 2330
Professor
Francesco Leri
Chapter
1

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Chapt. 1 Background and Rationale for the Study of Learning and Behaviour
- Behaviour is the result of learning (for the most part)
o Ex. we learn to read, write, count, etc
o Ex. we learn when to relax and when to become anxious
- Learning facilitates our survival and promotes our well-being
- we usually think about learning as involving the acquisition of new behavior
o however, learning can also consist of the decrease or loss of a previously
performed response
ex. learn to not grab food from someone else’s plate or yell when
someone is sleeping
- we learn things from our social and physical environments, even without special
instruction
- Automatic procedural learning does not require awareness
- Declarative learning is more accessible to conscious report
Historical Antecedents
- Before Descartes the prevailing view was that human behavior is entirely
determined by conscious intent and free will
- He recognized that people do many things automatically in response to external
stimuli, but he also knew free will and conscious control existed
o So he came up with Cartesian dualism
Dualism there are two classes of behavior: involuntary and voluntary
- involuntary = automatic reactions to external stimuli and is mediated by a
special mechanism called a reflex
- voluntary = does not have to be triggered by external stimuli and occurs because
of the person’s conscious intent to act in that particular manner
Involuntary (or reflexive) behavior stimuli in the environment are detected by the
person’s sense organs
- sensory info is then relayed to the brain through nerves
- brain sends signals through nerves to muscles that create the involuntary response
- figure 1.2
- sensory input is reflected in the response output
- Descartes believed that nonhuman animals lacked free will and were incapable of
voluntary, conscious action
- He believed the mind was connected to the physical body by way of the pineal
gland and that it was a nonphysical entity
Mentalism concerned with the contents and workings of the mind
Reflexology concerned with the mechanisms of reflexive behavior
*these two intellectual traditions form the foundations of the modern study of learning
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Historical Developments in the study of the mind
- Descartes believed some contents of the mind came from sense experiences
- He also believed that the mind contained ideas that were innate and existed in all
human beings independent of personal experience
o Ex. believed that all humans were born with the concept of God, the
concept of self, etc
o Nativism the philosophical approach that assumes we are born with
innate ideas about certain things
- John Locke, however, proposed that all the ideas people had were acquired
directly or indirectly through experiences after birth
o Human beings are born without any preconceptions about the world
o This is known as empiricism
- Thomas Hobbes accepted the distinction between voluntary and involuntary
behavior stated by Descartes and also accepted the notion that voluntary behavior
was controlled by the mind
o But unlike Descartes, he believed the mind operated just as predictably
and lawfully as a reflex
o Hedonism people do things in the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance
of pain
Hobbes was not concerned with whether the pursuit of pleasure
and the avoidance of pain are desirable or justified
o The notion that behavior is controlled by positive and negative
consequences has remained with us in one form or another to the present
day
- British empiricists believed in the concept of association
o Simple sensations are combined into more complex ideas by associations
o Ex. hearing the word car when you see a car
Rules of associations
- primary rules and secondary rules
- Aristotle proposed three (primary) principles for the establishment of
associations: 1) contiguity, 2) similarity, and 3) contrast
- Contiguity is the most prominent
o It states that if two events repeatedly occur together in space or time, they
will become linked or associated
- Similarity and contrast principles state that two things will become associated if
they are similar in some respect or have some contrasting characteristics
- Thomas Brown proposed one of the secondary laws of associations which says
that the association between two stimuli depended on the intensity of those stimuli
and how frequently or recently the stimuli occurred together
o Also, the formation of an association between two events was considered
to depend on the number of other associations in which each event was
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