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Chapter 6

PSY100 Psychological Science (3rd Ed.) Textbook Notes Chapter 6

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Alison Luby

CHAPTER 6 Learning Behavioral Study of Learning -BF Skinner had greatest influence on contemporary psychological science Influenced by James B. Watsons Behaviorism and psychologist Ivan Pavlov Wrote Walden Two, depicting a utopia where children are raised only w/ praise and never punished -Learning: an enduring change in behavior, resulting from experience; understanding how events are related -associations develop through conditioning: process in which environmental stimuli and behavior responses become connected Classical/Pavlovian Conditioning: we learn that two types of events go together (watch scary movie hearts beat faster) Operant/Instrumental Conditioning: we learn that behavior leads to a certain outcome (e.g. studying better grades) -Watson founded behaviorism (dominant psychological paradigm until the 1960s) based on the belief that animals and humans are born w/ potential to learn about anything; wathinfluenced by Pavlovs observation that dogs started to salivate at sight of bowl (not automatic but acquired) based on 17 century philosopher Lockes idea of tabula rasa (blank slate) which states that infants are born knowing nothing and knowledge is required through sensory experiences Classical Conditioning -classical conditioning: a type of learned response that occurs when a neutral object comes to elicit a reflexive response when it is associated w/ a stimulus that already produces that response. Pavlovs Experiments -believed that conditioning is the basis for how animals learn to adapt to environment (influenced by Darwin) -neutral stimulus unrelated to salivary reflex is presented along w/ stimulus that produces reflex (e.g. food); this pairing (conditioning trial) is repeated; then on critical trials the neutral stimulus is presented alone and salivary reflex is measured -Unconditioned Response (UR): response that does not have to be learned (reflex) -Unconditioned Stimulus (US): stimulus that elicits response w/o learning -Conditioned Stimulus (CS): stimulus that elicits response after learning -Conditioned Response (CR): response to conditioned stimulus that has been learned (acquired response); usually weaker than unconditioned response -acquisition: the gradual formation of an association b/w the conditioned and unconditioned stimuli (initial learning of behavior) Pavlov believed stimuli must occur together for strongest association (contiguity) but research shows that strongest conditioning occurs when there is a brief delay b/w CS and US -extinction: process in which the conditioned response is weakened when the CS no longer predicts US; form of learning that overwrites the previous association; does not eliminate associative bond, only inhibits -spontaneous recovery: process in which a previously extinguished response re-emerges following presentation of the CS; temporary and fades quickly unless CS is again paired with the US (if CS presented alone, it produces weak CR) -Stimulus generalization: occurs when stimuli that are similar but not identical to the conditioned stimulus produce the CR -Stimulus Discrimination: differentiation b/w two similar stimuli when only one of them is consistently associated w/ US (e.g. dogs can make fine distinction b/w similar stimuli after learning similar that even similar tones in metronome are not associated with CS) -Second-Order Conditioning: CS-US bond formed b/w tone and food so tone (CS) led to salivation (CR); then black square presented at the same time as tone (no US presented); after few trials, black square led to salivation in dogs Accounts for complexity of learned associations (e.g. money can buy things feels rewarding) Phobias/Drugs -phobia: acquired fear that is out of proportion to the real threat of an object/situation -fear conditioning: classical conditioning to fear neutral objects -most important brain structure for fear conditioning is the amygdala (w/o it, fear conditioning doesnt happen) E.g. Watson conditioned Little Albert to fear neutral objects-counterconditioning: to treat phobias, expose ppl to small doses of the feared stimulus while having them engage is pleasing task Formal treatment of counterconditioning: systematic desensitization (Wolpe): patients are told to relax muscles while imagining their fears Research shows that repeated exposure to feared stimulus more important than relaxing to break fear connection -when former heroin addicts are exposed to environmental cues associated w/ drug use, they experience cravings (conditioned craving) -presenting addicts w/ associated cues lead to activation of the prefrontal cortex and limbic system, involved in experience of reward; psychologist Siegel says its important to expose addicts to drug cues to extinguish responses for treatment -tolerance effects (needing more of drug to experience same effects) are greatest when drug is taken in the same location as previous drug use (body learned to expect the drug, and compensates for the drug); addicts more likely to overdose if they take their usual large doses in novel settings b/c body will not respond sufficiently to compensate for drugs Evolutionary Significance on Classical Conditioning -certain pairings of stimuli are more likely to be associated than others (differed from Pavlov who thought conditioning trials would allow any object to be a CS) -e.g. conditioned food aversion: association b/w eating food and getting sick deters us from eating the food; easy to produce with smell or taste but difficult to produce w/ light or sound -biological preparedness: Seligman says that animals are genetically programmed to fear specific objects (e.g. monkeys more easily conditioned to fear snakes than fear flowers/rabbits) -when ppl receive aversive stimuli paired with member of own racial group than other racial groups, ppl more easily associate negative stimulus with outgroup -taste aversions more easy to condition in rats than birds b/c rats rely more on taste to select food and birds rely more on vision -different types of stimuli cause different reactions within species: rats freeze and startle if CS is auditory but rise on hind legs if CS
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