You are on page 1of 4

VCE Psychology Unit 4

Operant Conditioning
Learning in which behaviour becomes controlled by its consequences is called operant conditioning. Think of anytime when youve had a consequence for completing some action/behaviour, that consequence would have shaped your future behaviour. So as you can tell, operant conditioning is constantly at work in our daily lives, almost everyday youll have dozens of experiences with this form of learning.

Three phase model:


Stimulus => Response => Consequence The Stimulus is the environment that precedes the response. The Response is the action that has an effect on the environment. The Consequence is the stimulus or event that follows the response.
FAQ: The discriminative stimulus is another term for the S from SRC.

In the case of the puzzle box: S = the actual puzzle box. R = the sequence of movements needed to open the door. C = escaping and getting the reward (the fish). In the case of the Skinner box: S = the actual Skinner box. R = pressing the lever. C = getting the food pellet or removing the electric shock.

Skinners experiments (The Skinner Box):


B.F. Skinner was the father of operant conditioning, he named it operant conditioning because in this type of learning behaviour operates on the surrounding environment. Operant in relation to operant conditioning refers to an organisms response or behaviour that acts on the environment and leads to some sort of outcome. His apparatus, The Skinner box, was a chamber in which an animal (usually a pigeon or hungry rat) learned to repeat certain behaviours. The box was capable of giving positive reinforcement, e.g. when a food pellet or water was given whenever the rat pressed the lever. It was also capable of negative reinforcement, e.g. when the grid floor produced a mild electric shock, which could be turned off if the rat pressed the lever. Skinner therefore put the animals on different schedules of reinforcement to investigate acquisition, extinction and rates of responding. A recording instrument then measured the frequency and speed with which the organism took to learn the desired behaviour inside the box.

Connect Education 2011

17

VCE Psychology Unit 4

Strengths of GAS Provided rich, empirically based information about the physiological processes involved in animals responses to a range of stressors. Selyes model gave laboratory evidence of the role of the brain, endocrine system and peripheral nervous system through the three stages of GAS. Selye found that the greater the intensity of the stressor, the greater the physiological response. GAS identified a number of physiological mechanisms in the stress response. It made the important connection between extreme prolonged stress and certain diseases. This contribution was very valuable since previously the proposal that stress could cause disease was a radical idea. Seyle found that exposure to prolonged stress could lead to death in laboratory rats. Limitations of GAS It overemphasises physiological processes. Selyes model was predominantly based on his research with laboratory rats and therefore might not be as relevant to humans. He did not consider that a rats responses to stressors are less varied than a persons stress response. It doesnt consider key psychological and environmental factors that are unique to humans, such as the perception and interpretation of the stressor. Selyes description of GAS as a non-specific stress response was limited. There is research evidence that different types of stressors can trigger their own distinctive physiological reactions.

Connect Education 2011

48

VCE Psychology Unit 4

Psychotherapies:
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) This form of psychotherapy aims to alter thoughts processes and the behaviour of an individual suffering from schizophrenia. People with delusions usually have type of reasoning bias that makes them prone to misinterpretation and jumping to conclusions. The cognitive component of CBT therefore involves helping the client to become aware that they may be jumping to conclusions and attempts to replace these thoughts and behaviours with more realistic, helpful and balanced ones. A therapist might ask a patient to consider alternative explanations for particular situations. E.g. there was a camera on the street because a film was being shot instead of the government being to blame. There is also considerable time spent on examining and challenging delusions experienced by the patient. The aim of CBT is not to get the patient to fully reject the delusions but rather to help the individual reduce the amount of distress it causes and the amount of time they spend thinking about it. The behavioural component of CBT involves either behavioural experiments or behavioural strategies. Behavioural experiments are planned activities undertaken by the client to help them test out the accuracy of their delusional thoughts. Clients can then realise that their delusions may not be 100% true. However in some cases its not possible to test out these delusions (e.g. disproving that aliens are not watching the patients every move) therefore behavioural strategies can be useful substitutes. Behavioural strategies involve reducing the impact of delusions or hallucinations using behaviour-based activities. These can take a number of forms such as listening to an iPod, watching television, engaging in physical activity or engaging in relaxation strategies to reduce stimulation and stress. Remediation therapy Cognitive remediation refers to the use of training techniques that promote improvement in specific cognitive impairments. These techniques can focus on: attention and concentration, reasoning, memory, problem solving, decision-making, organisation and executive functioning. Before cognitive remediation can begin the individual is usually assessed in order to identify and target specific cognitive impairments interfering with their day-to-day functioning. This also provides a means of tracking the improvement before, during and after remediation. Some approaches use computer software programs, paper and pencil tasks or group programs. Stress Management Involves the use of various techniques to alleviate the effects of stress, usually for the purpose of improving everyday functioning. Since individuals with schizophrenia are very sensitive to stressors this technique is especially relevant and important. Stress management techniques such as biofeedback, mediation and relaxation, physical exercise and social support are all also effective for those with schizophrenia. Other strategies include teaching a patient how to recognise stress symptoms and resolve them. Research has shown that reducing stress levels after a patients recovery can help prevent their relapse and rehospitalisation.

Connect Education 2011

74

VCE Psychology Unit 4

Are VCAA ass essors really l eni ent or really harsh in their marki ng? Psychology assessors are, for the most part, very harsh in how they mark written responses. This ensures theres a good spread, otherwise everyone would be doing really well in Psychology. Youll notice that the average mark for the multiple-choice section is typically quite high (approximately 70-80%) with a number of students scoring full marks. If you contrast this to the written response sections, the average is quite low (approximately 50%). Your answers need to be specific, related to the case study and in special cases feature key words. If any of these are missing you will lose marks.

My Own Top 18 Tips


1) Trust your gut instincts. In Psychology especially, your gut instinct seems to often lead you in the right direction. This is most relevant to your multiple-choice section. Changing answers in Psychology will more often than not lead you to change from the right answer to the wrong one. Usually the most obvious response (and thus your first pick) is typically the right one. So dont second guess yourself! Only change a multiple choice answer if youre 110% sure it must be changed. 2) Underesti mate your ability and knowledge in the subject. The main trap most of the students doing Psychology fall into is the belief that the subject is easy. I can tell you now that 95% of people who have actually completed VCE Psychology and gotten their study scores back will say it was a lot harder to get a high score than they initially anticipated. The content of the subject isnt overly complex like that of something like specialist mathematics. However, just because the content is simple you should not believe its an easy subject. The difficulty in Psychology comes from the sheer competition people are dealing with, unlike many other subjects the difference between an A+ and a B+ can be as little as 4%. The subject matter is interesting and the subject overall is usually a students favourite out of all their year 12 studies which means students enjoy studying the content. This leads to more students working hard, which obviously means theyll be harder for you to beat. Psychology assessors are also amongst the pickiest out of any VCE study, they wont let you get away with much. I found that by making sure I didnt think the subject was easy and that I was blitzing it, I ensured that I worked even harder to compensate for the difficulty I knew I was faced with in achieving a high score. This was one really crucial factor I believe in my success in the subject, nearly everyone else I knew doing psychology thought they were doing fine and that they were acing it when in fact most of them ended up with C+s and Bs on the exams. Underestimating yourself is a really good thing when it comes to Psychology, itll make you work harder and ensure you appreciate the true difficulty in achieving a high score in the subject. 3) Ensure all your written responses are appli ed to the cas e study. If you read any assessors report youll see how much the chief assessor stresses this point. Its very important. How can you do this may ask? Well you should use the persons name wherever possible, you should make sure your explanation is specific to the situation described in the case study whereby everything you describe shouldnt look like its from a textbook. A good way to make sure you havent fallen into this trap is to reread your response and pretend as if youd never read the case study, from reading the answer alone could you see any details about the case study? If not, then your answer is not related enough.

Connect Education 2011

94