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Chapter 7

Ch. 7 – Learning and Adaptation.docx

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Psychology 1000

Chapter 7 – Learning and Adaptation: The Role of Experience - Learning is a process by which experience produces a relatively enduring change in an organism’s behaviour or capabilities. Theorists highlight capabilities as “knowing how” and learning as “doing”. Adapting to the Environment 1) How Do We Learn? The Search for Mechanisms - Learning is a process of personal adaptation to the changing-circumstances in our lives - Behaviourist Perspective (Bolles and Beecher, 1988) Focused mainly on how organisms and examining the processes on how experience influences behaviour o Treated organisms as a blank tablet in which learning experiences were transcribed o Explained learning only from direct observations rather than the mental state - Evolutionist Perspective Adaption is passed on across many generations - Behaviour is influenced by our interactions with the immediate and the past environment 2) Habituation and Sensitization - Habituation the decrease in the strength of response to a repeated stimulus, a key adaptive function. Without habituation, the organism would be overwhelmed with every stimulus in its environment. o Differs in sensory adaptation which the decreased sensory response. o Ex: In sensory adaptation, if you stay long enough in a pie factory, there is a decreased response in the olfactory neurons to the smell of pie. o Learning occurs in the CNS, instead of the sensory neurons in the sensory adaptation. o Ex: For habituation, you habituate the feeling of clothes against the skin. Tactile information that has been presented continuously presents no consequences, thus it is ignored. o Habituation allows organisms to ignore unimportant stimuli. - Sensitization increase in the strength of the response to a repeated stimulus o Ex: If a loud tone occurs, an organism will show a startle reflex. With repeated presentation of the loud tone, the startle response will increase with intensity. o Organisms will have an increased response to a potentially dangerous stimuli Classical Conditioning - Classical conditioning is the learning process in which a formerly neutral stimulus (conditioned stimulus) comes to elicit to a conditioned response by being paired with an unconditioned stimulus that naturally elicits a similar response (the unconditioned response) 1) Acquisition - Acquisition the period of time in which the response is being learned - An unconditioned stimulus stimulates a unconditioned response, a natural, unlearned reflex o Ex: if a dog is presented with food (UCS), salivation is the UCR - If a bell and food are paired together, a UCS is paired with a conditioned stimulus (CS), a learned response. Every time the bell is rung and food is shown, the dog will start salivating o However, model is not response contingent, what is important is the CS & UCS pairing - After multiple learning trials, when the tone is presented by itself, the dog will salivate although there is no food o The tone has become CS and the salivation is the conditioned response (CR) - At this stage, the CS must be paired with the UCS multiple times to establish a strong CR o Subject must pay attention to the CS and orient reflex - Forward-short delay pairing allows CS-UCS pairing to be learned quickly. In this process, the CS appears first, and is still present when the UCS appears. - Forward-trace pairing the CS would come on and off, and the food would be presented afterwards o Adaptive value because the CS signals the arrival of the UCS - Simultaneous pairing is when both the CS and UCS are presented at the same time. This slows down the learning process - Backward pairing is when the CS is presented after the UCS. This does not allow for learning - Acquisition curves are plotted graphs of the acquisition period o Preferred to be as short as possible; means that the learning period is short 2) Extinction and Spontaneous Recovery - The conditioned response can be removed by presenting the CS without the presence of the UCS - CR weakens and eventually disappears. Also known as extinction - Spontaneous recovery is the reappearance of the CR after it has been removed. o CR is weaker and can be removed more easily o Ex: If a person sees a location that was a scene of an accident (CS) without any consequences (no USC), the fear will be removed. However should they return to the scene after a short while, the fear response will return again 3) Generalization and Discrimination - Pavlov discovered that once a CR is acquired, the subject will respond to similar CR (stimulus generalization) - This serves as an important adaptive function o An animal that has been attacked by a predator after the rustling of bushes will respond to rustling of bushes even there is no predator o Better to be safe than to be sorry - To avoid stimulus generalization, the organism must learned discrimination o Demonstrated when a CR occurs to one stimulus but not to others o Example: My sister is scared of dogs after a big dog ripped her dress. We got a dog, a small one at least, anyway even though she’s scared of them. 4) Higher-Order Conditioning - A neutral stimulus becomes a CS after being paired with an already established CS - Produces a weaker CR and extinguishes more easily than the original CR - Expands the influence of a conditioned stimuli and can affect fear and dislike o Example: Politicians try to associate themselves with patriotic symbols, athletes and leaders that trigger positive responses among voters 5) Applications a) Acquiring and Overcoming Fear - If a CS is paired with a known fear, the subject will the CS as well - Furthermore, discrimination and generalization can cause the subject to fear things similar to the CS - Exposure therapies are used to overcome fear by exposing the phobic patient to the feature stimulus (CS) without ay UCS, allowing extinction to occur - Systematic desensitization teaches patients to learn relaxation and is then gradually exposed to fear-provoking stimulus. Flooding is the immediate exposure of the phobic stimulus b) Conditioned Attraction and Aversion - People become sexually aroused to various stimuli after CS have been paired with sexually arousing UCS - Aversion therapy is the attempt to a condition an aversion to a stimulus that triggers unwanted behaviour by pairing it with a noxious UCS o Example: Alcoholics are given a drug that induces severe nausea when alcohol is consumed o Has mixed results; often produces short-term changes than can disappear over time - Both play a role in attitude formation as neutral stimulation can acquire favourable or unfavourable meaning by being paired with other stimuli that already elicit positive or negative attitudes o Ex: Advertisers are aware of the power of classical conditioning. They link products such as famous people and attractive people of the opposite sex to attract customers - Conditioning can also create unfavourable attitudes toward CS by pairing the CS with a negative UCS o Ex: smoking an drinking are paired with words having negative connotations - Classical conditioning can also affect our physical health, ie. Allergic reactions o However, when a neutral stimulus (ie. Neutral odour) is paired with a natural allergen, it may turn in to CS that will trigger an allergic CR Operant Conditioning - Operant conditioning a type of learning in which behaviour is modified by its consequences, such as by reinforcement, punishment, and extinction. Responses that produce favourable consequences tend to be repeated, whereas responses that produce unfavourable consequences became less likely to occur. o Skinner viewed it as a type of natural selection in which organisms learn to increase behaviour that produced favourable results - Thorndike’s Law of Effect Thorndike concluded that through trial-and-error, responses that elicit favourable results were eliminated, and responses that followed satisfying results will more likely to occur. - Reinforcement a response is strengthened by an outcome that follows it. The outcome that increases the frequency is called the reinforcer. o Ex: A rat pulls a lever down and food pellet comes out. This will increase the frequency of the rat pulling the lever - Punishment A response is weakened by an outcome that follows it. o Ex: A rat pulls a lever down and is electrocuted. This decreases the frequency of the rat pulling the lever - Response contingent- relies heavily on the subject behaving the right way 1) ABCs of Operant Conditioning - Antecedent Stimuli If I say “sit” - Behaviour Is Emitted And my dog Leo sits - Consequence Will Occur Then he’ll get a treat - The relationship between A and B, and B and C are called contingencies - Differences Between Classical/Operant Conditioning o In classical conditioning, there is an association between two stimuli. Behaviour changes because of the events that occur before it. It also focuses on elicited behaviours, as CR is nearly involuntary triggered by the stimulus that precedes it. o In operant conditioning, there is an association between behaviour and its consequences. Behaviour changes because of the events that occur after it. OC focuses on emitted behaviours and allows the subject to generate responses under its control. - However, both conditioning needs learning to change the behaviour Reinforcement Punishment Positive Gold stars, money, Detention grades Negative Headache, mediation, Grounded, allowance booze a) Antecedent Conditions: Identifying When To Respond - Discriminative stimulus a signal that a particular response will now produce a certain consequence o Ex: When the light is on, the rat will pull the lever down to dispense food. If the light is off, pressing the level down will not dispense any food - Discriminative stimulus sets the occasion for operant responses 2) Consequences: Determining How To Respond a) Positive reinforcement - Being presented with a stimulus we find pleasing represents a desirable outcome - A response is strengthened by the subsequent presentation of a stimulus - The stimulus that follows and strengthens the response is called a positive reinforcer o Example: A cat presses a level, food pellets appear and level-pressing increases b) Negative Reinforcement - A response is strengthened by the subsequent removal or avoidance of a stimulus. - The stimulus that is removed or avoided is called a negative reinforce - Not to be confused with a punishment, as punishment generates a weakened response o Example: Person takes Aspirin, headache pain goes away, increased tendency to take Aspirin for headache relief c) Operant Extinction - The weakening and eventual disappearance of a response because it is no longer reinforced - If previously reinforced behaviour does not work anymore, subjects are more likely to abandon it and pursue it for more successful ones - Resistance extinction is the degree to which non-reinforced responses persist o May stop quickly  low resistance o May keep occurring many times  high resistance - Also provides a good measure for reducing undesirable behaviour o Example: If a kid is being annoying, yelling at them will not make them stop being annoying. They are attention whores and yelling at them will reinforce their attention whore-ness. Ignoring them will make them stop being annoying. d) Positive Punishment - A response is weakened by the subsequent presentation of a stimulus - Produces rapid results, but does not cause the subject to forget the behaviour that makes the response o Does not generalize to other relevant situations o Example: A child will only not swear in front of his/her parents, but will in front of others - Arouses negative emotions such as fear and anger, causing the subject to avoid and dislike who delivers the punishment - Example: Two siblings fight  Spanked  Fighting decreases e) Negative Punishment - A response is weakened by the subsequent removal of a stimulus - May arouse feelings of anger, but it less likely to create dear and dislike unlike positive punishment - Punishment is not modelling physical aggression, so there is less likely for learning of aggression through imitation - Example: If two siblings are fighting  No TV for a week  Fighting decreases f) Primary and Secondary Consequences - Primary reinforcers are stimuli, such as food and water, than an organism naturally finds reinforcing because it satisfies their biological needs - Secondary/conditioned reinforcers are associated with primary reinforcers. o Example: money is a secondary reinforcer, as it is needed to buy food and water. - Secondary reinforcers illustrates how behaviour is dependant on the combination of classical and operant conditioning o Example: When a dog sits on a command, food is used as an operant reinforcer. But before delivering the food, the trainer will say “Good dog.” This saying will become a classically conditioned stimulus that will elicit excitement (salivation) from the dog. The phrase “Good dog” can be used as a secondary reinforcer - Does not only apply to positive reinforcement, it can also be used as a secondary punishment or negative reinforcement - Secondary consequence has its importance because of learning o Example: A mother has a cat that would pull petals off of flowers. The mother would spray the cat with a water mister whenever it attacked the flower (primary punishment). She would shake the mister and sternly say, “No.” After pairing the shaking of the mister and sternly saying, “No,” these stimuli helped control the cat’s behaviour by making it stop attacking the flowers. g) Immediate versus Delayed Consequences - In general, reinforcement or punishment that occurs immediately after behaviour has a stronger effect than if delayed. o However, this is more applicable to animals than humans - In humans, the timing of consequences may have less influence on human behaviour because we are able to imagine future consequences and weight them against more immediate ones. This is called delay of gratification. -
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