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Chapter 5

PSYA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Classical Conditioning, Reinforcement

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Steve Joordens

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Chapter 5: Learning and Behaviour
modifying behaviour to fit environment = a form of learning
assumption: all the new things we learn are built upon lower things
lowest of the low is basic stimulus responses that we are born with (ex. Food
in your mouth, your whole digestive system starts up)
we’re interested in the association between the stimulus and response
Conditioned: something that is learned
Unconditioned: something that we didn’t have to learn (inate, born with)
Habituation: simplest form of learning; learning not to respond to an
unimportant event that occurs repeatedly
ex. getting used to something, learning to ignore it
makes sense from an evolutionary perspective: paying attention to
useless things is a waste of time and energy
Orienting Response: any response to which an organism directs appropriate
sensory organs (eyes, ears, mouth) toward source of stimulus
i.e. an automatic response
Classical Conditioning
involves learning about conditions that predict that a certain significant event
will occur
Classical Conditioning: process by which a response normally elicited by one
stimulus (the UCS) comes to be controlled by another stimulus (CS)
ex. Pavlov’s experiment Pavlov rang a bell at the beginning of the
experiment. The dogs did not salivate; there is no link between
salivation and the bell. However, if food (UCS) was presented to the
dog, it would salivate (UCR). Over a number of trials, the bell and the
(CS) is run just before the food is delivered. This is where the learning
takes place. After a number of conditioning trials, if the CS is
presented alone without the food, it will typically lead to a CR
(salivating). Now, there is a link between salivation and the bell (CS).
Unconditioned Stimulus : (UCS) a stimulus (food) that naturally elicits a
reflexive behaviour (salvation)
Unconditioned Response (UCR): a response, (salivation) that is elicited by the
UCS (food)
Conditional Stimulus : a stimulus that, due to its repeated association with a
UCS, eventually elicits a CR (bell)
Conditional Response: (CR) response elicited by CS (salivation)
two functions f classical conditioning:
(1) built ability to learn to recognize stimuli that predict occurrence of an
important event; learner can make appropriate response faster
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(2) stimuli that were previously unimportant acquire some of the
properties of the important stimuli which they are associated with (ex.
symbolic value of money is the things we need)
Interesting Phenomena:
(1) Acquisition: time during which the CR first appears and increases
in frequency
during repetitions of CS-UCS pairings, CS increases in strength
two factors that influence acquisition are UCS intensity and timing
between UCS and CS (fastest learning when CS occurs shortly after
UCS, and both end at the same time)
(2) Extinction: elimination of a response when CS no longer signals
once CR has been extinguished, doesn’t mean that it has completely
Spontaneous Recovery: after an interval of time, the reappearance of a response
that had been extinguished
(3) Generalization: in classical conditioning, extent to which a
stimulus similar to the CS can elicit the CR
ex. Pavlov’s dogs would salivate at the sound of a different bell
Discrimination: being able to distinguish two different stimuli
(4) Phobias: unreasonable fear for specific objects or situations, such
as spiders, learned through classical conditioning
don’t have to experience it to get phobia (ex. child of parent who has
snake-phobia could also get the phobia simply by observing the
What is Learned in Classical Conditioning?
for classical conditioning to occur, CS must be a reliable indicator of UCS
a neutral stimulus becomes a CS only when: CS regularly occurs prior to
presentation of UCS, and CS doesn’t regularly occur when UCS is absent
Blocking: prevention of or attenuation of learning that occurs to a neutral CS
when it is conditioned in the presence of a previously conditioned stimulus
reliability of CS to predict UCS
Inhibitory Conditional Response: a response tendency conditional to a signal
Excitatory Conditioned Response: response tendency conditioned to a single
that predicts absence of a UCS
Operant Conditioning
Operant Conditioning
Operant Conditioning: form of learning in which behaviour is affected by its
consequences (rewards and punishments)
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