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Chapter Six

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Kathy Foxall

PS102 Chapter 6: Learning Week One • Useful for behavior change • Considers reinforces and punishers foundation of behaviorism • Learning: any relative durable change in behavior or knowledge that is due to experience • 3 classical approaches o Classical conditioning o Operant conditioning o Observational learning Classical Conditioning • One of the simplest forms of learning • A type of learning in which a stimulus acquires the capacity to evoke a response that was originally evoked by another stimulus o Came from “pavlovian conditioning”  Psychic reflex: showed how stimuli in the external world controlled our actions and behavior  “association can be built up in consciousness” o A trial in classical conditioning consists of any presentation of stimulus or a pair of stimuli • Conditioned fear and anxiety o Many irrational fears can be traced back to experiences o Humans are biologically “prepared” to learn certain fears faster than others (evolutionary basis) • The Case of little Albert o Stimulus generalization: occurs when an organism that has learned a response to a specific stimulus responds in the same way to a new stimuli that are similar to the original stimulus (salivation not only from a tone) (one bridge generalized to all bridges)  Depends on the similarity of the original CS and the new stimulus  Start of behaviourism  Conditioned young boy to be scared if anything white and furry by banging a metal sheet every time he tried to touch it o Classical John B. Watson & Raynor expirement  Conditioned little Albert to be afraid of white rats by pairing the stimulus (rats) with an unconditioned stimulus (loud noises)  Days later, fear had also generalized to other funny objects • Counter Conditioning: process of pairing a conditional stimulus with a stimulus that elicits a response that is incompatible with an unwanted conditioned response • In Real Life o Accounting for Taste: can explain how we learn to like and dislike many foods and odours o Reacting to Medical Treatments: Stimuli associated with drug treatments that produce nausea can become conditioned stimuli • Attitudes o Evaluative conditioning refers to changes in the liking of a stimulus that result from pairing that stimulus with other positive or negative stimuli  The acquisition of likes and dislikes through classical conditioning  Neutral stimulus is paired with unconditional stimuli that trigger positive reactions so that the neutral stimulus becomes a conditional one that elicits positive reactions  Advertisers like to take advantage of evaluative conditioning  Unconditional stimulus that elicit pleasant  Some say its special and durable where people don’t need to be aware while others say it’s not because awareness is crucial to evaluative conditioning • Psychological Response o Can affect the immune system according to research  (Ader and Cohen) Can lead to Immunosuppression: decrease in the production of antibodies o Can also create allergic reactions  Drug tolerance: can be caused by increase of use  Involves a gradual decline in responsiveness to a drug and require larger doses as they continue  The more of the compensatory response, the more of the drug is needed to produce the same effect o Sexual arousal: seductive nightgowns, mood music, and lit candles • Drug Effects o In many instances, the conditional responses are psychological reactions that are just the opposite of the normal effects of drugs o Even the drug administrative process can become a Conditional stimuli associated with drug effects o The drugs could have a much stronger impact if taken in a new environment • Basic Processes in Classical Conditioning • Acquisition: Forming New Responses o The initial stage of learning something o Pavlov theorized that the acquisition of a conditioned response depends on stimulus contiguity • Extinction: Weakening Conditioned Responses o The gradual weakening and disappearance of a conditioned response tendency o The consistent presentation of the conditioned stimulus alone, without the unconditioned stimulus leads to this extinction o Pavlov – the tone alone gradually lost its capacity to elicit the response of salivation • Stimulus generalization: occurs when an organism that has learned a response to a specific stimulus responds in the same way to a new stimuli that are similar to the original stimulus (fear of bridge leads to fear of all bridges) • Stimulus Discrimination o 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 – the opposite of generalization (Dog only responds when your car pulls into the driveway) • Discriminative stimuli: cues that influence operant behavior by indicating the probable consequences (reinforcement or non reinforcement) of a response • Higher order conditioning: a conditioned stimulus functions as if it were an unconditional stimulus (dog comes even though the meat isn’t there, but the tone is paired with the meat being there) o A neutral stimulus becomes associated with a conditional stimulus o The neutral stimulus becomes an additional conditioned stimulus • Spontaneous Recovery: Resurrecting Responses o The reappearance of an extinguished response after a period of nonexposure to the conditioned stimulus o Pavlov – the rest interval when the dog was sent to its home cage (a period of non exposure to the CS) than the salivation reappeared but still weak o Renewal reflect: if a response is extinguished in a different environment that it was acquired, the extinguished response will reappear if the animal is returned to the original environment where acquisition took place  Surpresses a conditioned response rather than erasing a learned association – extinction does not appear to lead to unlearning  When things although gone for long periods of time will show up in the future Operant Conditioning • A form of learning in which responses come to be controlled by their consequences (studying because of grades and exams) B.F. Skinner • Operant or Instrumental o The consequences of behavior modify that behavior in the future o Behaviour that is reinforced tends to be repeated o Behaviour that is ignored or punished is less likely to be repeated o Principle of Thorndike and B.F. Skinner • Thorndike’s Law of Effect o Another name for operant can be instrumental learning o Learning does not depend on thinking and understanding o Instrumental in obtaining some sort of outcome o If the response in the presence of a stimulus leads to satisfying effects, the association between the stimulus and the response is strengthened • Consequences of Behaviour o Skinner argued that a response (“operant”) can lead to three types of consequences  A neutral consequence neither increases or decreases the probability that the response will recur  Reinforcement strengthens the response or makes it more likely to recur – occurs when an event following a response increases an organisms tendency to make that response  Operant chamber or Skinner Box: a small enclosure in which an animal can make a specific response that is recorded while the consequences of responses are systematically controlled  Reinforcement contingencies are the circumstances or rules that determine whether responses lead to the presentation of reinforcers  Response rate: the key dependent variable  Cumulative recorder: creates a graphic record of responding and reinforcement as a function of time  A stimulus or event strengthens of the response that it follows  Both positive and negative reinforcement increases responses  Negative reinforcement is not punishment • Shaping: when behaviours are not likely to occur spontaneously, may use shaping to teach others – consists of the reinforcement closer and closer approximations of a desired response o Mold desired behavior by rewarding behaviours that are successive approximations o Is necessary when an organism does not, on its own emit the desired response  Successive approximations: behaviours that are ordered in terms of increasing similarity or closeness to the desired response • Extinction o Operant – gradual weakening and disappear
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