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Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Course Code
Michael Inzlicht

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Learning and Reward
-Learning is a relatively enduring change in behaviour that results from experience
oWhen an organism benefits from an experience, so that the future
behaviour is better adapted
oAbility to learn is crucial
-Essence of learning is understanding how events are related
oConditioning is when the environmental stimuli and behavioural response
become connected
Classical conditioning occurs when we learn that two types of
events go together
Walking in the rain + getting wet
Operant conditioning occurs when we learn that a particular
behaviour leads to particular outcome
Studying + better grades
How did the behavioural study of learning develop?
-Watson: overt behaviour is the only way to study mental processes
-Behaviorism: humans and animals are born as a blank slate able to learn anything
-The environment and its associated effects on an organism were the sole
determinants of learning
1. Behavioural responses are conditioned
-Salivary reflex: unlearned response that occurs when the stimulus of food is
presented to an animal
-Pavlov realized that dogs salivated before they tasted or saw food, the dogs began
salivating when the technician walked into the room or when the dogs saw the
bowls that usually had food in them
-Behavioural response as the window to the working mind
-Salivation at the sight of bowl is not an inborn reflex, therefore must have been
a.Pavlov’s experiments

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-Natural stimuli, unrelated to salivation (ringing of the bell) is presented together
with the stimulus, to produce the reflex
-Conditioning trial – repeating the neutral stimulus + stimulus for effect
-Critical trial the presentation of the neutral stimulus with out the stimulus and the
effect is measured
oNeutral stimulus can alone produce the effect
-Classical conditioning is a type of learned response that occurs when a neutral
object comes to elicit a reflexive response when it is associated with a stimulus
that already produced that response
-Unconditioned response or UR is a response that does not have to be learned, such
as a reflex
oExample salivation at the sight of actual food
-Unconditioned stimulus or US is a stimulus that elicits a response without prior
oFood is an US because in a nature food would elicit the response of
-Conditioned stimulus or CS is a stimulus that elicit a learned response
oRinging bell > salivation
-Conditioned response - a response that has been learned
oSalivation after hearing the bell
oLearned response
-Even though both the UR and CR are salivation they are no identical, the CS (bell)
produces less response
b. Acquisition, extinction and spontaneous recovery
-Pavlov: conditioning is the basis of all human learning
-How animals learn to adapt to their environments
-Learning to predict which behaviour brings pleasure and avoiding behaviours that
bring pain
-Acquisition is the gradual formation of an association between the conditioned
and unconditioned stimuli

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oThis is the learned association that two stimuli occur together in time, this
is referred to as contiguity
-Extinction is a process in which the conditional response is weakened when the
CS is repeated without the US
oWhen the CS no longer predicts the US
oHow does this happen?
After conditioning, the bell (CS) leads to salivation (CR) because
the animal learns to associate CS with food (US)
Id CS is presented without food (US), the animal learned that the
CS is not a good predictor of US
Salivation response eventually disappears
-Spontaneous recovery is a process in which a previously extinguished response
reemerges following the presentation of the CS
-Extinction does not break the associative bonds
-When the US is presented on some occasions, this is a new type of learning and it
overrides the previous
-Example: acquisition – learning that a certain plant blooms after rain
-Extinction – plant stops blooming
-Spontaneous recovery – plant blooms only during certain times of year, checking
back occasionally
c.Generalization, discrimination and second-order conditioning
-Many possible stimuli can be associated with the conditioned response, how does
the brain learn how to connect the relevant stimuli?
-Stimulus generalization occurs when stimuli that are similar but not identical to
the CS produce the CR
oAdaptive, because seldom experiences repeat in identical fashion
-Stimulus discrimination is a learned tendency to differentiate between two similar
stimuli if one is consistently associated with the US and the other is not
oDogs were trained to differentiate between two shades of gray
-Sometimes CS is not directly associated with the US, but rather with a different
US, this phenomena is known as second-order conditioning
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