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Chapter 7

Chapter 7 Summary Word.doc

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Psychology 1000

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Chapter 7 - Learning is a process which experience produces a relatively enduring change in an organism’s behaviour or capabilities - Basic learning processes: - habituation and sensitization: a change in behaviour that results from repeated exposure to a single stimulus - forms of conditioning - classical conditioning: two stimuli become associated with each other - eg. seeing a dog and then being bitten - operant conditioning: associate responses with specific consequences - eg. learn that smiling at others is followed by a friendly greet- ing - Learning is basically personal adaption to our environment Adapting to the Environment How do we learn? The search for Mechanisms - behaviourists examine the processes by which experience influences be- haviour - they assumed there are laws of learning that apply to virtually all or- ganisms so all species responds in predictable ways - treated the organism as a blank tablet where learning experiences were inscribed - most research was done with non humans in labs - explained learning in terms of directly observable events and avoided speculating about an organism’s “mental state” (the unobservable) - said that learning results from our interactions with immediate and past environments - ethologists focus on the adaptive significance of learning - today we look at how mental processes and cultural environments influ- ence learning Habituation and Sensitization - Habituation: decrease in the strength of response to a repeated stimulus - occurs across species - key adaptive function - if an organism responded to every stimulus in its environment, it would become overwhelmed and exhausted - so organisms learn not to respond to familiar stimuli, they can conserve energy and be able to attend to other stimuli that are important - HABITUATION IS DIFFERENT FROM SENSORY ADAPTIONS - sensory adaptions are a decreased sensory response to a con- tinuously present stimulus eg. if you smell a scent for long time, your system adapts and the smell becomes less and less noticeable - habituation is a form of learning that occurs in the central ner- vous system not sensory neurons - you can habituate to a stimulus but that sensory information is still available if it becomes relevant - eg. you can habituate to the feeling of your clothing against your skin but if there is a reason to become aware of skin sensations, you would suddenly become aware of it again - Sensitization: increase in strength of response to a repeated stimulus - eg. response to a loud tone - with repeated presentation of this stimulus, the responses will increase in intensity - eg. everytime you get shocked by a door knob, your reac- tion will become more intense - usually happens with strong or noxious stimuli - occurs in a wide range of species - increases an organism’s response to potentially dangerous stimuli Classical Conditioning: Associating One Stimulus with Another - Classical Conditioning: an organism learns to associate two stimuli (eg. a song and a pleasant event) such that one stimulus (the song) comes to pro- duce a response (feeling happy) that originally was produced only by the oth- er stimulus (the pleasant event) - basic form of learning that is present in a wide range of species Pavlov’s Pioneering Research - pavlov was trying to study digestion but instead found that dogs salivated before their food was presented - used that to train them to salivate to a sound= classical conditioning - classical conditioning alerts organisms to stimuli that signal the impending arrival of an important event - thought that since salivation could be conditioned, so could other bodily events Basic Principles Acquisition: the period of time where the response is being learned - at first sounding the tone will not cause the dog to salivate, so it is a neu- tral stimulus - placing the food in the dog’s mouth will cause it to salivate which is natural so the food is known as the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) and the salvation as the unconditioned response (UCS) - The tone and the food are then paired together known as a learning trial - after multiple learning trials, the dog will salivate to the tone alone - the tone has now become conditioned stimulus (CU) and the salivation the conditioned response (CU) Things that affect conditioning 1. number of pairings a.during this period, a CS has to be paired with a UCS multiple times to establish a strong CR 2. Strength of UCS a.The establishment of the CR is made faster if there was a strong UCS (more food) 3. Sequence and time interval of the CS-UCS pairing • Forward Pairing a.learning fastest with forward short-delay pairing i. CS (tone) appears first and is still present with the UCS (food) ap- pears b.Forward trace pairing i. tone would come on and off and afterward the food would be pre- sented • for all forward pairing, it is best if the CS does not appear more than 2 or 3 seconds before the UCS (so short interval) • best adaptive value because Cs signals the impending arrival of the UCS c.simultaneous pairing i. CS and UCS at the same time ii.learning is slower d.backward pairing i. CS is after the UCS ii.slowest learning or conditioning does not occur at all Extinction and Spontaneous Recovery - Extinction: when the CS is presented repeatedly in the absence of the UCS the CR weakens and disappears - even when the CR extinguishes, it does not mean that all traces of it are erased - sometimes there will be a spontaneous recovery: the reappearance of a previously extinguished CR after a rest period without new learning trials, though the CR is usually weaker and extinguishes faster with- out the UCS - eg. after a rest period of the dog may randomly start salivating when it hears the tone Generalization and Discrimination - stimulus generalization: Pavlov found that stimuli similar to the initial CS elicit a CR though the greater the similarity, the greater the chance that a CR will occur - this is important adaptive function because for example, if they learn that a rustling bush was the proceedings of a predator coming, they would need to respond to all different kinds of rustling bushes or else they would only re- spond if the rustling bush sound was identical to the first CS - to prevent the stimulus generalization from going amok, organisms have to be able to discriminate: distinguish irrelevant sounds from those that may signal danger - if they don’t discriminate, they will exhaust themselves from stress because they will be alarmed at every sound - organisms can be taught to discriminate - pair one CS with the UCS and then pair similar stimuli with no conse- quence High-Order Conditioning - High-Order Conditioning: a neutral stimulus becomes a CS after being paired with an already established CS - usually the high order CS will produce a weaker CR and extinguishes faster than the original CR Applications of Classical Conditioning Acquiring and Overcoming Fear - At least some fears are conditioned - eg. “little Albert” was conditioned to fear rats and then feared all fur- ry things that resembled rats afterwards - Fears can be conditioned away - exposure therapies: expose the phobic patient to the feared stimulus without any UCS, allowing extinction to occur - effective in most cases - systematic desensitization: the patient learns muscular relaxation techniques and then is gradually exposed to the fear-provoking stim- ulus - flooding: immediately exposes the person to the phobic stimulus Conditioned Attraction and Aversion - alot of what attracts and pleasurably arouses us is influenced by classical conditioning - it can also decrease our arousal and attraction to stimuli - aversion therapy: condition an aversion to a stimulus by pairing it with a noxious UCS - eg. to reduce an alcoholic’s attraction to alcohol, the patient is given a drug that induces severe nausea when alcohol is consumed - the results are mixed and often short-term that extinguish over time - neutral stimuli can go through conditioned attraction and aversion to ac- quire favourable or unfavourable meaning by being paired with other stimuli that already elicit positive or negative attitudes - eg. ads of necklaces on pretty people - some emotions are easier to condition than others - easier to condition fear than others - but things like allergies can also be conditioned by pairing a neutral substance with an allergen Operant Conditioning: Learning through Consequences - emitted (voluntary) responses are learned in a different way than elicited responses Thorndike’s Law of Effect - Thorndike was exploring how animals learn to solve problems - trained a cat in a puzzle box that in order to get the food it had to step on a button - the cat eliminated responses that failed to open the door to the food and this was called instrumental learning - law of effect: in a given situation, a response followed by a satisfying con- sequence will become more likely to occur and ones that are followed by an unsatisfying outcome will become less likely to occur Skinner’s Analysis of Operant Conditioning - Operant Conditioning: a type of learning in which behaviour is influenced by its consequences - responses that produce favourable consequences tend to be repeat- ed whiereas ones that produce unfavorable consequences tend to be- come less likely to occur - Skinner said that operant condition was a type of natural selection- it was the organism’s personal adaption - types of consequences: 1. reinforcement: a response is strengthened by an outcome that follows it i. the outcome (a stimulus or event) that increases the frequency of a response is called a reinforcer 2. punishment: occurs when a response is weakened by outcomes that follow it i. the outcome is known as a punisher • reinforcers and punishers are defined in terms of their observable ef- fects on behaviour • if the food doesn’t increase the lever pressing, then it is not a reinforcer - Skinner’s analysis of operant behaviour involves three events - A: antecedents which are stimuli that are present before a behaviour occurs (the command sit) - B: behaviours that the orgnaism emits (dog sits) - C: consequences that follow the behaviours (gives dog treat) - the relations between A and B and B and C are contingencies - sitting is contingent on the command sit and the treat is contin- gent on the sitting - Differences between classical and operant conditioning: 1. Classical: the organism learns association between the two stim- uli, CS and UCS that occurs before the behaviour. Operational: organ- ism learns association between behaviour and consequences, the be- haviour changes based on events that occur after it 2. Classical: focuses on elicited behaviour (it is triggered involun- tarily) Operational: focuses on emitted behaviours (voluntary) - but a stimuli can be used as both classical and operant conditioning - eg. raising the chalk that squeaked the chalkboard sends shivers (classical) and caused one to plug their ears (operant) Antecedent Conditions: Identifying when to Re- spond - Antecedent may be a general situation or specific stimulus - a rat in Skinner’s box, the fact that it is in the box is an antecedent condition - discriminative stimulus: a signal that a particular response will now produce certain consequences - set the occasion for operant responses eg. seeing food on plate when you are hungry is a discriminative stimulus for you to start eating Consequences: Determining How to Respond - behaviour is governed by its consequences - operant behaviour is also weakened by extinction - there are two reinforcement and punishment consequences Positive Reinforcement - Positive Reinforcement: a response is strengthened by the subsequent pre- sentation of a stimulus - eg. a rat receives food for pressing a lever - stimulus that follows and strengthened the response is called a positive re- inforcer (reward) - may not generalize eg. saying thank you only infront of parents Negative Reinforcement - Negative Reinforcement: a response is strengthened by the subsequent re- moval or avoidance of a stimulus- the stimulus that is removed is called a negative reinforcer - eg. you take Advil to get rid of a headache Operant Extinction - Operant Extinction: the weakening and eventual disappearance of a re- sponse because it is no longer reinforced - if an action no longer results in a reward, that action will be more like- ly to be abandoned - Resistance to extinction is strongly influenced by the pattern of reinforce- ment that has previously maintained the behaviour Positive Punishment - Positive Punishment: a response is weakened by the subsequent presenta- tion of a stimulus - eg. spanking a child or touching a hot stove or the negative reaction of friends towards a new shirt - doing something results in something bad - produces rapid results - unlike reinforcement, punishment arouses negative emotions - however has limitations - suppresses behaviour but does not cause the organism to forget how to make the response - suppression may not generalize to other relevant situations eg. kids may learn to not to swear infront of parents, doesn’t mean they don’t swear - because punishment arouses negative emotions, may lead to a dis- like and avoidance towards the punisher - usually recommended against this behaviour eg. there is a correlation be- tween the violence of a child and the parent so if a parent spanks them, they are more likely to be violent Negative Punishment - a response is weakened by the subsequent removal of a stimulus (usually things like money) - an action leads to the removal of something you like, that you want to have (positive) - two advantages over positive punishment: 1. Results in less hatred or fear towards the punisher 2. punishing agent is not modeling physical aggression so there is less opportunity for learning aggression - recommended over positive punishment - punishment teaches what not to do but does not guarantee that they will do desirable behaviour - desirable behaviour is strengthened through reinforcement Primary and Secondary Consequences - two broad types of consequences: - Primary reinforcers are stimuli that have a biological importance eg. food/water - secondary reinforcers (conditioned) have a learned importance , it is associated with primary reinforcers eg. money - behaviour can depend on a combination of classical and operant condition- ing - training a dog, the “good dog” becomes associated with food and good dog may come to be used as a secondary reinforcer - primary and secondary consequences does not apply only to positive rein- forcement it can be for everything Immediate vs. Delayed Consequences - reinforcement or punishment that is immediately after the behaviour has a stronger effect than when delayed - timing of consequences have less of an influence on humans because we can imagine future consequences - eg. 100 now or 200 later - need delay of gratification: ability to forego an immediate smaller re- ward for a larger one later on - ability to delay gratification varies from person to person - skill developed early on - inability to delay gratification may result in poorer adjustment and more diffic
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