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Chapter 7

Learning and Behaviour- Chapter 7.docx

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Anneke Olthof

Learning and Behaviour-Chapter 7 Instrumental Conditioning: Motivational Mechanisms -the motivation of instrumental behaviour has been considered from two perspectives: Thorndike’s Associative Structure of Instrumental Conditioning (relies heavily on concept of associations, taking a molecular approach examining instrumental learning in isolated behavioural preparations); second strategy is Behavioural Regulation developed within the Skinnerian tradition and involves considering instrumental conditioning within the broader context of numerous activities that organisms are doing, taking a molar perspective which considers long-term goals and how an organism achieves those goals within the context of all of their behaviour options each approach has identified interesting ideas, but neither can stand alone The Associative Structure of Instrumental Conditioning -instrumental response occurs in the context of specific stimuli—turning key in ignition of your car requires you to be in your car -there are three events to consider in instrumental learning: (S) the stimulus context, (R) the stimulus response, (O) response outcome, or reinforcer The S-R Association and the Law of Effect -considered to be key to instrumental learning and to the law of effect -the role of the reinforcer is to “stamp in” the S-R association, Thorndike thought that once established, the S-R association was solely responsible for the occurrence of instrumental behaviour thus the basic impetus or motivation for the instrumental behaviour was the activation of the S-R association by exposing the subject to contextual stimuli (S) in the presence of which the response was previously reinforced -the only role of the reinforcer is to strengthen the S-R association, the reinforcer itself is not a participant in this association -there lately has been a resurgence of interest in S-R mechanisms in a recent effort to characterize habitual behaviour in people (45% of human behaviour is a habit) habits arise when people repeatedly use a particular behavioural means in particular contexts to pursue their goals but once acquired, habits are performed without mediation of a goal -habits become responses in an automatic reaction to the stimulus context Expectancy and Reward of the S-O Association -you come to predict that something important will happen when you encounter a stimulus that signals the significant event or allow you to predict that the event will occur -Pavlovian conditioning is the basic process of signal learning -specification of an instrumental response ensures that the participant will always experience certain distinctive stimuli (S) in connection with making a response reinforcement of the instrumental response will inevitably result in pairing the context stimuli (S) with the reinforcer or response outcome (O) -presence of S comes to evoke the instrumental response directly through Thorndike’s S-R association, then instrumental response also comes to be made in response to an S-O association that creates the expectancy of the reward -activates a reward-specific expectancy or emotional state R-O and S(R-O) Relations in Instrumental Conditioning -it would be odd to explain all of the motivation of instrumental behaviour in terms of just S-O and S-R -neither the S-R nor the S-O association involves the direct link between the response (R) and the reinforcer (O) -intuition suggests that instrumental behaviour involves R-O associations (such as combing your hair because you expect in doing so that it will improve your appearance) -S is supposed to become associated directly with O on the assumption that the pairing of S with O is sufficient enough for the occurrence of classical conditioning—however CS-US pairings are not sufficient for the development of associations, the CS must be able to provide information about the US or in some way be related to the US -therefore in instrumental conditioning, the reinforcer O cannot be predicted from S alone, rather O occurs if the individual makes response (R) in the presence of S **S is followed by O only if R occurs  Evidence of R-O Associations -common technique to see if instrumental conditioning leads to response-outcome associations involves devaluing the reinforcer after conditioning to see if this decreases the instrumental response -did an experiment with rats by devaluing their reinforcer and found that rats were less likely to make a response whose reinforcer had been made aversive only if the subject has had a chance to learn what the new incentive value of the reinforcer is will its instrumental behaviour be reduced  Hierarchical S(R-O) Relations -we know that organisms learn to associate an instrumental response with its outcome, however R-O associations cannot act alone to produce instrumental behaviour -additional factor is required to activate R-O association—one possibility is that the R-O association is activated by the stimuli (S) that are present when the response is reinforced (S does not activate R directly, but rather it activates the R-O association when it encounters S, and that motivates it to make an instrumental response -Skinner suggested many years ago that S, R, and O in instrumental conditioning are connected through conditional S(R-O) relation Behavioural Regulation -behavioural regulation analyses are focused on how instrumental conditioning procedures put limitations on an organism’s activities and cause redistribution of those activities Antecedents of Behavioural Regulation -reinforcers were initially considered to be special kinds of stimuli—ex. a stimulus that produces a satisfying state of affairs -reinforcers were special stimuli that strengthened instrumental behaviour (Thorndike’s Law of Effect, theoreticians agreed on this definition)  Consummatory-Response Theory -consummatory response theory: theory that assumes that species-typical consummatory responses (eating, drinking and the like) are the critical features of reinforcers -consummatory response theory was a radical innovation because it moved the search for reinforcers from special kinds of stimuli to special types of responses—responses were assumed to be special because they involved the consummation, or completion of an instinctive behaviour sequence -theory assumed that consummatory responses (swallowing, chewing) are fundamentally different from various potential instrumental responses such as running, jumping and pressing a lever -Premack took issue with this and suggested that reinforcer responses are special only because they are most likely to occur than the instrumental responses they follow  The Premack Principle -Premack pointed out that the responses involved with commonly used reinforcers involve activities that animals are highly likely to perform  such as in a food reinforcement experiment, organisms are usually deprived of food and therefore are highly likely to engage in eating behaviour -in contrast, instrumental responses are typically low-probability events, as a rat is much less likely to press a response lever than it is to eat -difference in response probabilities is critical for reinforcement -premack principle: a principle that assumes that reinforcement depends on how much more likely the organism is to perform the reinforcer response than the instrumental response before an instrumental conditioning procedure is produced (more likely to eat then press a lever before experiment); the greater the differential probability of the reinforcer and instrumental responses during baseline conditions, the greater is the reinforcement effect of providing opportunity to engage in the reinforcer response after performance of the instrumental response (also known as differential probabil
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