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Chapter 6

Psychology 46-115 Chapter 6: 46-115 Notes on Learning

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University of Windsor
Ken Cramer

Chapter 6: Learning (Page 240-277) • Learning  change in an organism’s behaviour or thought as a result of experience • Habituation  the process by which we respond less strongly over time to repeated stimuli o Earliest form of learning (as young as 32 week fetuses) o Sensitization  responding more stronger overtime rather than habituation Classical Conditioning • Ivan Pavlov’s Classical Conditioning  a form of learning that animals come to respond to a previously neutral stimulus that had been paired with another stimulus that elicits an automatic response o Conditioned stimulus (CS) initially neutral stimulus because animal’s response to it was conditional (the bell) o Unconditioned stimulus (UCS)  because the animal responded to it unconditionally (the meat) o Unconditioned response (UCR)  an automatic, reflexive response because the response is a product of nature, not nurture (the salivation) o Conditioned response (CR)  a response previously associated with a non-neutral stimulus that comes to be elicited by a neutral stimulus, which is now nurtured (the salivation) • Aversive conditioning  classical conditioning to an unpleasant UCS • Acquisition  gradually learn the conditioned response o Pairing of CS and UCS should be close in time • Extinction  the CR decreases and eventually disappears when the CS is repeatedly presented alone without the UCS • Spontaneous recovery  extinct CR reappears if the CS is presented again following a delay after extinction • Stimulus generalization  the process where stimuli that are similar but not identical to the CS elicit a response o Generalization gradient  the more similar to the original CS the new stimulus is, the stronger the response will be o Stimulus discrimination  opposite of stimulus generalization; occurs when exhibit a less pronounced response to stimuli that differ from the original CS • Higher-order conditioning  the process where organisms develop classically conditioned responses to CSs associated with the original CS • Applications of classical conditioning o Advertising  Pairing sights and the sounds of products with celebrities  Latent inhibition  difficulty in conditioning a familiar stimulus than an unfamiliar stimulus o The acquisition of fears  Can classical conditioning help explain how we come to fear or avoid stimuli?  Ex. Watson’s Little Albert o Phobias  Classical conditioning to conquer fears  Mary Cover Jones conditioned Little Peter who had a phobia of rabbits o Drug tolerance  Conditioned compensatory response  a CR that helps counteract the effects of drug o Fetishes  Fetishism  sexual attraction to nonliving things o Disgust reaction  Rozin (Dr. Disgust)  two bottles each labelled either sucrose or poison, both contained sugar (sucrose). Participants hesitated to from the glass labelled poison Operant Conditioning • Operant conditioning  learning controlled by the consequence of organism’s behaviours Differences between Classical and Operant Conditioning Classical Conditioning Operant Conditioning Target behaviour Elicited automatically Emitted voluntarily Behaviour is a function Stimuli that precede the Consequences that follow of… behaviour the behaviour Depends on primarily Autonomic nervous Skeletal muscles on… system • The Law of Effect (Thorndike)  with the presence of a stimulus, a behaviour that results in a satisfying reward is more likely to occur again o Cat in a puzzle box; 60 trials for the cats to learn how to escape through trial and error o Insight  grasping the nature of a problem • B. F. Skinner thought that putting the unhappy cat back into the box was too troublesome, so invented the Skinner Box o Skinner Box  electronically records an animal’s response and prints out a cumulative record of the animal’s behaviour  Contains a bar that delivers food when pressed, food dispenser, light that signals food is forthcoming o Reinforcement  any outcome that strengths the probability of a response  Positive  consequences consist of presenting something pleasant (ex. giving a child a candy)  Negative  consequences consist of removing something unpleasant (ex. not having to do housework) o Punishment  any outcome that weakens the probability of a response  Involves an unpleasant stimulus (ex. a physical shock or a spank)  Also involves a pleasant stimulus (ex. taking away a favourite toy)  Disadvantages • Tells the subject what not to do, not what to do • Often create anxiety • May encourage subversive behaviour • May provide a model for the subject o To distinguish positive and negative reinforcement and punishment:  Does the consequence strength or weaken the behaviour? (weaken  punishment; strengthen  reinforcement)  If reinforcement, does strengthening consist of something being presented or taken away? (being presented  positive; taken away  negative) Consequences Effect on Behaviour Positive Presenting a positive stimulus Increase target behaviour Reinforcement Negative Removing a negative stimulus Increase target behaviour Reinforcement Punishment Presenting a undesirable Decrease target behaviour stimulus or removing a desirable stimulus o Discriminative Stimulus  any stimulus that signals the availability of a reinforcement o Extinction  occurs when we stop delivering reinforcement to a previously reinforced behaviour For Both Classical and Operant Conditioning Term Definition Acquisition Learning phase where a conditioned response (in classical conditioning) or an operant response (in operant conditioning) is established Extinction In c
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