PS102 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Sidney Crosby, Albert Bandura, Edward C. Tolman

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PS102 Chapter 6 - Learning Weeks 1 & 2
Classical Conditioning
-Classical conditioning is a type of learning in which a stimulus acquires the capacity to evoke a
response that was originally evoked by another stimulus
-The process was first described around 1900 by Ivan Pavlov called Pavlonian conditioning
Pavlov’s Demonstration: “Psychic Reflexes
-Pavlov was one of those who was responsible for turning psychology from research focusing on
subjective accounts of experience, introspection, to a more objective, rigorous, scientific approach
-He de-emphasized the mind, and mentalistic accounts of behaviour and showed how learning was
under the influence of experience and that “associations could be built up in consciousness”
-His experiment was the one that Jim did on Dwight with the altoids in The Office
-Based on his insight, he built broad theory of learning that attempted to explain aspects of emotion,
temperament, neuroses, and language
Terminology and Procedures
-The unconditioned stimulus (UCS) is a stimulus that evokes an unconditioned response without
previous conditioning
-The unconditioned response (UCR) is an unlearned reaction to an unconditioned stimulus that occurs
without previous conditioning
-The conditioned stimulus (CS) is a previously neutral stimulus that has, through conditioning, acquired
the capacity to evoke a conditioned response
-The conditioned response (CR) is a learned reaction to a conditioned stimulus that occurs because of
previous conditioning
-The unconditioned response an conditioned response often consist of the same behaviour, although
there may be subtle differences between them
-Classically conditioned responses have traditionally been characterized as reflexed and are said to be
elicited (drawn forth) because most of them are relatively automatic or involuntary
-A trial is classical conditioning consists of any presentation of a stimulus or pair of stimuli
Classical Conditioning in Everyday Life
Conditioned Fear and Anxiety
-Many irrational fears can be traced back to experiences that involve classical conditioning
-Ex. If you cringe when you hear the sound of a dentist’s drill – pain has been paired with the sound of
the drill
-Everyday conditioning effects are not restricted to negative emotions such as fear
Evaluative Conditioning of Attitudes
-Evaluative conditioning refers to changes in the liking of a stimulus that result from pairing that
stimulus with other positive or negative stimuli
-Evaluative conditioning involves the acquisition of likes and dislikes, or preferences through classical
conditioning
-Ex. Pairing two different brands of root beer with positive music to influence the liking of the drink
-Advertising campaigns try to take advantage of evaluative conditioning
-A current source of debate is whether evaluative conditioning is a special form of classical conditioning
-Some studies suggest that attitudes can be shaped through evaluative conditioning without
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PS102 Chapter 6 - Learning Weeks 1 & 2
participants’ conscious awareness and that evaluative conditioning is remarkably durable
-Evaluative conditioning can shape people’s attitudes
Conditioning and Physiological Responses
-Research has revealed that the functioning of the immune system can be influenced by psychological
factors, including conditioning
-Classical conditioning procedures can lead to immunosuppression a decrease in the production of
antibodies
-Classical conditioning can also elicit allergic reactions and that classical conditioning contributes to the
growth of drug tolerance and the experience of withdrawal symptoms when drug use is halted
-Continued use of drugs may lead to increased drug tolerance, in which increasing amounts of the drug
are needed to produce the same effect
-Classical conditioning can influence sexual arousal
Conditioning and Drug Effects
-Stimuli that are consistently paired with the administration of drugs can acquire the capacity to elicit
conditioned responses in both humans and laboratory animals
-Most drug users have routines that lead to the consistent pairing of drug administration and certain
stimuli, such as syringes, cocaine bottles, and specific settings and rituals. Even the drug administration
process itself can become a CS associated with drug effects
-Complicated conditioning processes appear to play a role in drug tolerance, drug craving, and drug
overdoses, which need to be factored into the treatment of drug addiction
Basic Processes in Classical Conditioning
-Most conditioned responses are reflexive and difficult to control
-Most people with phobias have great difficulty suppressing their fear
Acquisition: Forming New Responses
-Acquisition refers to the initial stage of learning something
-The acquisition of a conditioned response depends on stimulus contiguity
-Stimuli are contiguous if the occur together in time and space
-People are bombarded daily by countless stimuli that could be perceived as being paired, yet only some
of these pairings produce classical conditioning
Extinction: Weakening Conditioned Responses
-Extinction is the gradual weakening and disappearance of a conditioned response tendency
-The consistent presentation of the conditioned stimulus alone, without the unconditioned stimulus
leads to extinction
Spontaneous Recovery: Resurrecting Responses
-Some conditioned responses display the ultimate in tenacity by “reappearing from the dead” after
having been extinguished
-Spontaneous recovery is the reappearance of an extinguished response after a period of nonexposure
to the conditioned stimulus
-The renewal effect is if a response is extinguished in a different environment than it was acquired, the
extinguished response will reappear if the animal is returned to the original environment where
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PS102 Chapter 6 - Learning Weeks 1 & 2
acquisition took place
-This phenomenon, along with the evidence on spontaneous recovery, suggests that extinction
somehow suppresses a conditioned response rather than erasing a learned association
-Extinction does not appear to lead to unlearning
-Even if you manage to rid yourself of an unwanted conditioned response, there is an excellent chance
that I may make a surprise reappearance later
Stimulus Generalization and the Mysterious Case of Little Albert
-After conditioning has occurred, organisms often show a tendency to respond not only to the exact CS
used but also to other, similar stimuli
-Stimulus generalization occurs when an organism that has learned a response to a specific stimulus
responds in the same way to new stimuli that are similar to the original stimulus
-Generalization is adaptive, given that organisms rarely encounter the exact same stimulus more than
once
-The likelihood and amount of generalization to a new stimulus depend on the similarity between the
new stimulus and the original CS
-The more similar new stimuli are to the original CS, the greater the generalization
-This principle can be quantified in graphs called generalization gradients
-Generalization can have important implications in panic disorder
Stimulus Discrimination
-Stimulus discrimination occurs when an organism that has learned a response to a specific stimulus
does not respond in the same way to new stimuli that are similar to the original stimulus
-Discrimination is adaptive in that an animal’s survival may hinge on its being able to distinguish friend
from foe, or edible from poisonous food
-Ex. Your dog will run around and wag its tail when it hears your car being pulled into the driveway
though it will do that with any car unless your car has a distinct sound
-The less similar new stimuli are to the original CS, the greater the likelihood (and ease) of discrimination
Higher-Order Conditioning
-Higher-order conditioning is in which a conditioned stimulus functions as if it were an unconditioned
stimulus
-Shows that classical conditioning does not depend on the presence of a genuine, natural UCS an
already established CS will do just fine
Operant Conditioning
-Operant conditioning is a form of learning in which responses come to be controlled by their
consequences
Thorndike’s Law of Effect
-Another name for operant conditioning is instrumental learning, a term coined by Edward Thorndike
-Thorndike wanted to emphasize that this kind of responding is often instrumental in obtaining some
desired outcome
-The law of effect if a response in the presence of a stimulus leads to satisfying effects, the association
between the stimulus and the response is strengthened
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