Learning: an enduring change in behavior that results from experience
Conditioning: environmental stimuli and some sort of behavioral response become connected
- Classical conditioning: occurs when we learn that two types of events go together,
such as walking in rain and wetness
- Operant conditioning: when we learn that a behavior leads to a particular outcome,
such as studying leads to better grades. Skinner more interested in this.
Other types of learning: observing others
Rise of learning theory came because dissatisfied with use of verbal reports to assess mental
states (Freudian ideasdream analysis, free association)
Watson thought OVERT behavior only valid indicator of psychological activity
-started school of behaviorism: based on belief humans and animals are born with
potential to learn anything
- based on John Lockes idea of tabula rasa blank slate
- environment was SOLE determinant of learning
Watson influence by
Ivan Pavlov: won Nobel Prize for his work on digestive system
- salivary reflex
- created apparatus that collected saliva from dogs
- started with simple observation: noticed one day dogs salivated when technician
- UNLIKE inborn reflex, salivation at sight of a bowl is NOT automatic, acquired
Neutral stimulus: unrelated to salivary reflex, ringing bell
Presented with reliable stimulus that produces reflex, like food.
this is conditioning trial
repeated number of times
then neutral stimulus (bell) present alone
salivary reflex is measured
called classical or Pavlovian conditioning: when a neutral object causes reflexive response
when associated with stimulus that already has that response
salivation with food alone: UR (unconditioned response). Are unlearned, automatic.
food: US (unconditioned stimulus)
US leads to UR!
bell is CS (conditioned stimulus), only after training
salivary reflex from conditioned stimulus is CR (conditioned response). Acquired,
*note UR and CR not identical. US produces more saliva than CS. CR usually less strong than
UR. Example of music associated with scary scene in movie.
Acquisition: gradual formation of an association between conditioned and unconditioned
stimuli. E.g. when it rains, delicious plant blooms. Animal learns to look for plant when it
- CRITICAL element is contiguity: stimuli occur together in time
- Subsequent research has shown best if very brief DELAY between CS and US
When no longer adaptive, have to unlearn previous associations extinction: CR is
weakened when CS is repeated without US the response is extinguished when CS no
longer predicts US
Spontaneous recovery: previously extinguished response reemerges following presentation
of CS. Temporary and quickly fade unless CS is again paired with US. Even single pairing of
CS with US will reestablish CR.
SO extinction inhibits but does not break the associative bond. What is learned is that the
original association no longer holds true.
Stimulus generalization: when stimulus is similar but not identical to CS produce the CR.
- is adaptive b/c in nature hardly identical
- but important to distinguish too: e.g. two plants look similar, one poisonous
stimulus discrimination: animals learn to differentiate between two similar stimuli if one is
consistently associated with US and other is not
-sometimes CS not directly associated with US but with other stimuli that are associated with
US second-order conditioning
- accounts for complexity of learned associations among people
- most occurs implicitly, without our awareness or intention
Classical conditioning explains phobias and addictions.
Phobia: an ACQUIRED fear that is out of proportion to the real threat
- accorded to classical conditioning, develop through generalization of a fear
experience. E.g. person scared of wasp develops fear for all insects
Fear conditioning: classically condition animals to fear neutral objects
- experience of fear in animals can strengthen learning for imp events, avoid danger
- most important for fear conditioning is amygdala. WITHOUT amygdala, NO fear
Counter conditioning: exposing people to small doses of fear stimulus while engaging in
pleasurable task helps overcome phobia.
- formal treatment based on this is systematic desensitization
o asked to imagine feared object while doing relaxation exerciseso CS CR1 (fear) connection can be broken by CSCR2 (relaxation)
-conditioned drug effects are common
- e.g. smell of coffee is CS, drinker feels activated and aroused
- needle CS, heroin addicts inject themselves with water to reduce cravings
- when heroin addicts exposed to environmental cues associated with their drug use,
experience cravings and physiological sensation similar to withdrawal.
- addicts quitting drugs in rehab often relapse when return to old env, experience conditioned
- cues activated prefrontal cortex and various regions of limbic system involved in emotion
Tolerance: addicts need more and more of a drug to experience same effects
- greatest when drug is taken in same location as previous drug use
- if addicts that their usual large does in novel setting more likely to overdose
- Some CS more likely to produce learning than others
- contiguity not enough to create CS-US associations
Equipotentiality: idea that all stimuli are equally capable of producing conditioning (Pavlov)
- Certain pairings more likely than others
- E.g. poison in food, quickl