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Chapter 6

PSY100H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Observational Learning, Behaviorism, Amygdala

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Chapter 6: Learning
- Skinner made a huge impact in psychological science with his studies on behaviour
How Did Behavioural Study of Learning Develop?
- Relatively enduring change in behaviour, one that results from experience
- Crucial for survival and it only occurs when animals benefit from experience so that their behaviour is
better adapted to the environment. Ex. Avoiding foods that are dangerous, potential dangers, walking
and speaking
-Conditioning- Process, in which environment stimuli and behavioral responses become connected,
bringing about associations, Dentist-Pain
-Classical Conditioning- Occurs when we learn that 3 types of event go together, scary movie- fast
-Instrumental Conditioning- Learning that a certain behaviour leads to another, studying- better
- According to John Watson (Behaviorism) –observable behaviour is only valid indicator for psychological
- “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed and my own specified world to bring them up and I’ll
guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist- doctor, lawyer,
chef, etc.”- Watson
Behavioral Responses Are Conditioned
- Dog starts salivating at the sight of a human or bowl because it has learned that it can associate food
with the human or bowl,
- Conditioned Stimulus and Conditioned responses occur after learning through association
- Example, You naturally feel scared and tense when you see frightening scenes in the movie but after
you can feel the same way when you hear the music that occurs before those scenes
- Acquisition
-> The gradual formation of an association between the conditioned and unconditioned stimuli
-> Contiguity- Critical element in this process is time and how the stimuli have to occur together
-Extinction: process where a conditioned response is weakened after the associated conditioned
stimuli stops getting presented with the unconditioned one
-> Ex. Scary movie stops using that type of music before scenes
-Spontaneous recovery: previously extinct response re-emerges once the conditioned stimuli gets
-Stimulus generalization: similar stimuli create the same conditioned response as the original
-Stimulus discrimination: differentiating between two similar stimuli when only one is associated with
conditioned stimuli
- Second order conditioning happens when there is an association with an association. For example,
Money can buy goods/services which can bring happiness
Phobias and Addictions have Learned Components
- Phobia: acquired fear that is out of proportion to the real threat of an object or a situation; can be
explained by classical conditioning
-> Child is shown a rat and is exposed to a scary sound after over a period of time, child will be fear
conditioned with the rat and would feel the same level of fear from hearing the sound to when seeing
the rat
Counterconditioning can cure phobias by associating the conditioned fears with pleasant or relaxation
- Drug Addiction
-> Condition drug effects mean feeling cravings or pleasure from the effects of the actual drugs by
perceiving things that one can associate with the drug. Ex. Smell of coffee can make you feel
-> Drug cues produce an expectation that the drug high will follow, causing withdrawal symptoms for
-> Setting is a factor for building drug tolerance, the body has learned to expect the drug in the same
Classical Conditioning Involves More than Just Events Occurring at the Same Time
- Not all stimuli are equally effective in producing learning and conditioning
- Certain pairs of stimuli are more likely to become associated than others
- Animals tend to fear potentially dangerous things rather than objects that pose little threat
- People are predisposed to wariness of out-group members, maybe since they have been dangerous
over the course of evolution. Example, Nazi Germany conditioned Germans to feel disgusted with faces
of Jews by showing videos of Jewish faces turning into rats in filth
- To different animals, different senses are more suspect to conditioning and different actions are taken
as responses for various sense conditioning
- In terms of learning the environment, women are more likely to recall landmarks while men rely more
on the compass and make fewer mistakes reaching the destination
Cognitive Perspective
- Mental processes that lead to the prediction and expectancy for conditioned responses
-Rescorla-Wagner Model- strength of the conditioned stimuli-unconditioned stimuli association is
determined by the extent to which the unconditioned stimuli is surprising
- Different stimuli can be more easily associated with a familiar conditioned stimuli
-Blocking Effect- New CS prevents any other CS, Dog knows nuts signal for food so doesn’t have to
learn others
-Occasion Setter- Dog knows that only nuts associate with food, if there is a light or sound after the
How Does Operant Conditioning Differ from Classical Conditioning?
- Behaving in certain ways leads to rewards and in other ways leads to punishment – Operant Cond.
-Law of effect: any behaviour that leads to a “satisfying state of affairs’ will more likely occur than vice
-Reinforcer: stimulus that occurs after a response and increases the likelihood that the response will be
repeated ex. Food, freedom are reinforcers that promote the activity desired
Reinforcers can be conditioned
- Food and water are primary reinforcers while money, compliments, good grades are secondary
Both Reinforcement and Punishment can be Positive or Negative
-Positive Reinforcement increases the probability that a behaviour will be repeated- give money
-Negative Reinforcement increases behaviour through the removal of a stimulus- take money
-Positive Punishment decreases the behavior’s probability through stimulus- electric shock
-Negative Punishment- decreases behaviors probability by taking away stimulus- take way food
Effectiveness of Parental Punishment
- For punishment to be effective, it must be reasonable, unpleasant and applied immediately so
relationship between unwanted behaviour and punishment is clear
- Punishment can lead to fear and anxiety which may become associated with the person who punishes
- Child may fear the parent rather than stop the undesired behaviour, damaging long term parent-kid
- Positive reinforcement is more effective than punishment because with punishment, victim learns to
hide action
- Spanking causes poor relationship with parents, weaker moral values, mental health problems,
-Behavior modification: the use of operant-conditioning techniques to eliminate unwanted behaviors
and replace them with desirable ones
Biology and Cognition Influence Operant Conditioning
- Animals have a hard time learning behaviors that run counter to their evolutionary adaptation
-Cognitive map: visual/spatial mental representation of an environment