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Chapter 15

PSY 321 Chapter 15: Chap 15

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University at Buffalo
PSY 321
Erica Nuss

Chap 15: Learning to be a person: Behaviorism and Social Learning Theory 1. General 1) Learning: the process of the change of behavior as a function of experience 2) Learning based approaches to personality: behaviorism and social learning theories 3) Behavioral study: how a person’s behavior is a direct result of her environment, particularly the rewards and punishments that environment contains. The implication is that anybody else in the same situation would do exactly the same thing 2. Behaviorism 1) Definition: The only valid way to know about somebody is to watch what he does—the person’s behavior. 2) Personality is simply the sum of everything you do 3) Environment: refers not to the trees and rivers of nature, but to the rewards and punishments in the physical and social world. 4) The goal of behaviorism: a functional analysis that maps out exactly how behavior is a function of the environmental situation. 5) The philosophical root • Three ideas are fundamental: empiricism, associationism, and hedonism • Empiricism: - Definition: The idea that all knowledge comes from experience - Experience is not something that produces or exists separately from reality, but the direct product of reality itself. The structure of reality deter- mines personality, the structure of the mind and, by extension, our behavior - Rationalism: the opposing view, thinks that structure of the mind determines our experience of reality - The mind of a newborn baby: tabula rasa (blank slate) • Associaitonism - Definition: any two things, including ideas, become mentally associated as one if they are repeatedly experienced close together in time - Occurs as the result of a cause – and- effect relationship • Hedonism and utilitarianism - Hedonism: motivation. Hedonism provides an answer for why people do anything at all. - It claims that people learn for two reasons: to seek pleasure and avoid pain. These fundamental motivations explain why rewards and punishments shape behavior. They also form the basis of a value system that guides the technology of behavioral change, which is behaviorism’s proudest achievement. 6) Three kinds of learning • Focuses on behavior rather than on knowledge • Behaviorism traditionally identifies three types of learning: habituation, classical (or respondent) conditioning, and operant conditioning. • Habituation - The simplest way behavior changes as a result of experience - Repeated exposure to violent video games can make an individual’s personality more aggressive and less empathic - Get used to almost anything • Classical conditioning - Travel back to the places you used to go a lot - Often involved with animals (dogs) - Experiment: Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov, measured their salivation as they were fed a. Dog started salivating before they were fed b. Started at the sight of food or at the sound of streetcar c. Proves that the principle of associationism is slightly wrong d. Events become associated not merely because they occurred together, but because the meaning of one event has changed the meaning of another - Affects emotional responses and low-level behavioral responses: insulin release by the pancreas; glycogen uptake by the liver; speed of the heartbeat; and flow of secretions in the stomach… - Learned helplessness a. Definition: The feeling of anxiety due to unpredictability can also lead to a behavioral pattern b. “why bother” syndrome: long-recognized symptom of depression, this syndrome results from a history of unpredictable rewards and punishments, leading the person to act as if nothing she does matters. - S-R conception of personality a. The essential activity of life was to learn a vast array of responses to specific environmental stimuli, and that an individual’s personality consists of a repertoire of learned stimulus- response (S-R) associations b. Everyone’s patterns will be different; depends simply on what he happens to learn c. Example: working at home is dominant, working in office is submissive • Operant conditioning - The law of effect: Thorndike a. Puzzle box - Techniques of operant conditioning: skinner a. Respondent conditioning: the first kind of learning, conditioned response is essentially passive with no impact of its own. Eg: Palvov’s dogs salivate b. Operant conditioning: The animal learns to operate on its world in such a way as to change it to that animal’s advantage. c. Reinforcement 7) Punishment • Definition: an aversive consequence that follows an act in order to stop it and prevent its repetition. • 5 rules on how to punish - Availability of alternatives: An alternative response to the behavior that is being punished must be available. This alternative response must not be punished and should be rewarded. Eg: punish kids for Halloween pranks, some alternative activity is available that will not be punished or will be rewarding like Halloween party - Behavioral and situational specificity: Be clear about exactly what behavior you are punishing and the circumstances under which it will and will not be punished. Eg: A child who is unsure why he is punished may, just to be safe, become generally inhibited and fearful, not quite sure what is right and what is wrong. - Timing and consistency: To be effective, a punishment needs to be applied immediately after the behavior you wish to prevent, every time that behavior occurs - Conditioning secondary punishing stimuli: lessen the actual use of punishment by conditioning secondary stimuli to it. Eg: If you don’t stop, when I get to 3, you’ll be sorry. One, two . . .” - Avoiding mixed messages: For example, after the father punishes the child, the child goes to the mother for sympathy, or vice versa. This can produce the same counterproductive result. • The danger our punishment - Punishment arouses emotion a. The punisher may get carried away b. The punishee may be fearful and didn’t learn anything - Difficult to be consistent a. Punishment tends to vary with the punisher’s mood - It’s difficult to gauge the severity of punishment a. Child abuse b. Cause more psychological distress - Punishment teaches misuse of power a. It teaches that big, powerful people get to hurt smaller, less-powerful people - Punishment motivates concealment a. The prospective punishee has good reasons to conceal behavior that might be punished. b. The boss would be cut off if he punishes a lot; reward does the reverse thing • Bottom line: punishment works great if you can apply it nicely 3. Social learning theory 1) Experiment of chimpanzees by Wolfgang Köhler. They actually came to understand their situation—to develop insight 2) Shortcoming of behaviorism: • Ignores motivation, thought and cognition • Based on research using animals (humans are special) • It ignores the social dimension of learning • It treats the organism as essentially passive (humans not only choose our environments, but also change these environments as a result of what we do in them.) 3) Dollard and Miller’s social learning theory • Key concept: habit hierarchy • The behavior you are most likely to perform at a given moment resides at the top of your habit hierarchy, while your least likely behavior is at the bottom • Skinner claimed that learning changes behavior. Dollard and Miller claimed that learning changes the arrangement of an unobservable psychological entity, the habit hierarchy. This habit hierarchy is, in effect, the personality • Motivation and drives - Drive: a state of psychological tension that feels good when the tension is reduced - 2 kinds of drives a. primary drives: food, water, physical comfort, sexual gratification b. secondary drive: positive drives for love, prestige, money, and power, as well as negative drives such as the avoidance of fear and of humiliation (come later) - Drive reduction theory: there can be no reinforcement (no behavioral change) without reducing a drive. For a reward to have the power to encourage the target behavior, the reward must satisfy a need; a. This principle explains why people might foster new needs in themselves as well as purposely increasing the levels of existing needs before seeking satisfaction. • Frustration and aggression - The frustration-aggression hypothesis: The natural, biological reaction of any person (or animal, for that matter) to being blocked from a goal is to be frustrated, with the resulting urge to lash out and injure. The more important the blocked goal, the greater is the frustration, and the greater the aggressive impulse. - Displacement of anger and frustration • Psychological conflict - Approach -avoidance conflict: for example,
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