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Chapter 6

Chapter 6 - Learning.docx

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Carolyn Ensley

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Chapter 6 – Learning Learning: a relatively durable change in behaviour or knowledge that is due to experience -includes the acquisition of knowledge and skills -also shapes personal habits, personality traits, emotional responses, and personal preferences -most behaviour is the result of learning -not exclusively a human process – many organisms can learn Conditioning: involves learning associations between events that occur in an organism’s environment Classical Conditioning Classical Conditioning: a type of learning in which a stimulus acquires the capacity to evoke a response that was originally evoked by another stimulus -first described by Ivan Pavlov ( aka Pavlovian conditioning) Phobias: are irrational fears of specific objects or situations. Pavlov’s Demonstration: ‘Psychic Reflexes’ -partly accidental discovery -first he presented meat powder to the dogs, and collected their saliva -found that they started salivation before the meat powder was presented -they would salivate in response to a clicking sound the machine made by the machine that was used to present the meat powder -so he decided to pair the meat powder w/ various stimuli -used a tone -after the tone and meat powder had been presented together a number of times, the tone was presented alone -the dogs salivated to the tone alone -tone started out as a neutral stimulus -Pavlov changed it by pairing it with a stimulus that produced a response -this demonstrated how learned associations were formed by events in an organism’s environment Terminology and Procedures Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS): a stimulus that evokes an unconditioned response w/o previous conditioning Unconditioned Response (UCR): an unlearned reaction to an UCS that occurs w/o previous conditioning Conditioned Stimulus (CS): a previously neutral stimulus that has, through conditioning, acquired the capacity to evoke a conditioned response Conditioned Response (CR): a learned reaction to a CS that occurs b/c of previous conditioning -the unconditioned response and conditioned response often consist of the same behaviour -may be subtle differences between them -Pavlov’s psychic reflex came to be called the conditioned reflex Trial: in classical conditioning consists of any presentation of a stimulus or pair of stimuli Classically conditioned responses have traditionally been characterized as reflexes and are said to be elicited (drawn forth). Step 1: An unconditioned stimulus (US or UCS) is one that evokes a natural response, one that required no previous conditioning i.e., an unconditioned response (UR or UCR). Step 2: Pair a neutral stimulus (one that doesn’t elicit a response, a NS) with the US. Sometimes several pairings will be necessary, however, with extreme situations one-time learning is possible (e.g., touching a hot stove). Step 3: After the pairings, the neutral stimulus becomes able to evoke the response, so, the NS becomes the conditioned stimulus (CS) and the UR becomes the conditioned response (CR). It’s the same response, but now elicited by a different stimulus. Classical Conditioning in Everyday Life -classical conditioning often plays a role in shaping emotional responses such as fear -ex. Phobias Conditioning and Physiological Responses -the functioning of the immune system can be influenced by psychological factors including conditioning -classical conditioning procedures can lead to immunosuppression -classical conditioning can also elicit allergic reaction -also contributes to the growth of drug tolerance and the experience of withdrawal symptoms -can also influence sexual arousal -may also underlie the developments of fetishes for inanimate objects Conditioning and Drug Effects Drug tolerance: involves a gradual decline in responsiveness to a drug w/ repeated use -larger and larger doses are required to attain the user’s effects -stimuli that are always paired w/ drug use can acquire the capacity to elicit conditioned responses -sometimes, the CR are physiological responses that are opposite of the normal effects of the drugs -called compensatory CRs: they partially compensate for some drug effects -this can produce tolerance Basic Processes in Classical Conditioning Acquisition: Forming New Responses Acquisition: the initial stage of learning something -acquisition of a CR depends on stimulus contiguity -stimuli are contiguous if they occur together in the same time and space -it is important, but it doesn’t automatically produce conditioning -stimuli that are novel, unusual, or especially intense have more potential to become CSs -b/c they are more likely to stand out among other stimuli Extinction: Weakening Conditioned Responses Extinction: the gradual weakening and disappearance of conditioned response tendency -the consistent presentation of the conditioned stimulus alone, w/o the unconditioned stimulus leads to extinction in classical conditioning -how long it takes depends mainly on the strength of the conditioned bond when extinction begins Spontaneous Recovery: Resurrecting Responses -some responses can be recovered after having been extinguished Spontaneous Recovery: the reappearance of an extinguished response after a period of nonexposure to the conditioned stimulus -if a response is extinguished in a different enviro than it was acquired, it will reappear if the animal is returned to the original enviro -called the renewal effect -extinction doesn’t appear to lead to unlearning -extinction suppresses a conditioned response, it doesn’t erase a learned association Stimulus Generalization 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, b/c organisms rarely encounter the exact same stimulus more than once -the likelihood and amount of generalization to a new stimulus depends on the similarity between the new stimulus and the original CS -the more similar, the greater the generalization -can be mapped out in graphs called generalization gradients Stimulus Discrimination Stimulus Discrimination: occurs when an organism that has learned a response to a specific stimulus doesn’t respond in the same way to new stimuli that are similar to the original stimulus -the opposite of stimulus generalization -the less similar new stimuli are to the original CS, the greater the likelihood (and ease) of discrimination -organisms can gradually learn to discriminate between an original CS and a similar stimuli if they have adequate experience w/ both Higher-Order Conditioning Higher Order Conditioning: a conditioned stimulus functions as if it were an unconditioned stimulus -new conditioned responses are built on the foundation of already established conditioned responses Operant Conditioning Operant Conditioning: a form of learning in which responses come to be controlled by their consequences Thorndike’s Law of Effect -aka instrumental learning 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 -a mechanical process in which successful responses are gradually s ‘stamped in’ by their favourable effects -the cornerstone of Skinner’s theory Skinner’s Demonstration: It’s All a Matter of Consequences Reinforcement: occurs when an event following a response increases an organism’s tendency to make that response -a response is strengthened b/c it leads to rewarding consequences Terminology and Procedures Operant Chamber (Skinner box) a small enclosure in which an animal can bake a specific response that is recorded while the consequences of the response are systematically controlled Reinforcement Contingencies: the circumstances or rules that determine whether responses lead to the presentation of reinforcers The cumulative recorder crates a graphic record of responding and reinforcement in a skinner box as a function of time. Rapid response produced a steep slope whereas a slow response rate produces a shallow slope. Basic Processes in Operant Conditioning Acquisition and Shaping Acquisition: the initial stage of learning some new pattern of responding Shaping: the reinforcement of closer and closer approximations of a desired response -necessary when an organism on its own doesn’t emit the desired response Extinction -refers to the gradual weakening and disappearance of a response tendency b/c the response is no longer followed by a reinforcer -a key issue in operant conditioning is how much resistance to extinction an organism has Resistance to Extinction: occurs when an organism continues to make a response after delivery of the reinforcer has been stopped -the greater resistance to extinction, the longer the responding will continue Resistance to extinction depends on a variety of factors, like schedule of reinforcement used during acquisition. Stimulus Control: Generalization and Discrimination -operant responding is ultimately controlled by its consequences, as organisms learn response- outcome associations -but, stimuli that precede a response can also exert influence over operant behaviour Discriminative Stimuli: cues that influence operant behaviour by indicating the probable consequences of a response -play a key role in operant behaviour -reactions to a discriminative stimulus are governed by stimulus generalization and discrimination Process Classical Conditioning Operant Conditioning Acquisition: the initial stage of -CS and UCS are paired, -responding gradually learning gradually resulting in CR in
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