Chapter 8 Learning

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Learning - a relatively permanent change in an organism’s behavior due to experience Associative learning – main idea underlying learning, learning that certain events go together Examples, Salmon, Grey Wolves, People/discrimination.

Classical Conditioning

A type of learning in which an organism comes to associate stimuli. A neutral stimulus that signals an unconditioned stimulus (UCS) begins to produce a response that prepares and anticipates for the unconditioned stimulus – Pavlonian conditioning.

Classical Conditioning

Little Albert Classical Conditioni ng

Classical Conditioning

Acquisition – the stage of learning, in classical conditioning when the neutral stimulus is being associated with the unconditioned stimulus, in operant conditioning when the strengthening of a reinforced response. Extinction – the diminishing of a conditioned response, when a UCS does not follow a CS or when a response is no longer reinforced.


Spontaneous Recovery – the reappearance of a conditioned response after a rest period. Generalization – responding to stimuli that is similar to the CS Discrimination – specifically in classical conditioning the ability to distinguish between a conditioned stimulus and other stimuli that do not signal an unconditioned stimulus.

Uses of Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning research is used in drug rehab, for example someone addicted to cocaine is encouraged not only to stop using the drug but to stop visiting places associated with the highs of the drugs, places, cars, etc. If they got high in their own home they might rearrange the furniture, anything to make the place different. Sometimes alocoholics are given a substance to put in liquor which causes vomiting to try and get them to associate alcohol with being sick.

Operant Conditioning

Operant Conditioning is what people normally think of when they think of teaching or learning. It is a type of learning in which behavior is strengthened if followed by a reinforcer or diminished if followed by a punisher. Law of effect (B.F. Skinner) – rewarded behavior is likely to reoccur Shaping behavior – procedure in which reinforcers gradually guide behavior closer and closer to a desired goal

B.F. Skinner – Father of Behaviorism Skinner Box or
Operant Box Used to teach rats by successive approximations

Operant Conditioning Reinforcer – anything that Reinforcers strengthens a behavior
Primary reinforcer – something you naturally respond positively to such as food. Secondary reinforcer – something that you will want because it is associated with a primary reinforcer. Money is a secondary reinforcer because it can buy primary reinforcers.

Continuous reinforcement – reinforcing the desired response every time it occurs Partial reinforcement – only reinforcing the desired response part of the time. Results in longer acquisition but also longer extinction. Respondent Behavior – behavior that occurs automatically as a response to a stimulus Operant behavior – Behavior that operates on environment producing consequences.

Reinforcement Schedules
Fixed-ratio schedules – behavior is reinforced on a regular basis, for example a reward for every response. Does not encourage rest, because rest does not earn the reward.  Variable-ratio schedule – rewards after a random response, same as gambling, encourages many responses as people try to maximize reward.  Fixed-interval schedules – rewards at a fixed time, produces choppy responses around the time of reward

Variable-interval schedules – tend to produce slow steady responding


Punishment can be a very effective way to change behavior but it also has many negative side effects. Punishment may not teach people to stop a behavior but simply not to get caught by you doing it. Physical punishment can increase aggressiveness because it teaches that violence is a solution to a problem


Children will often associate fear not only with the punishment for the bad behavior they may also fear the person giving the punishment. Random senseless punishment causes a sense of helplessness, severe stress, and can cause depression. Punishment only tells people what NOT to do, it cannot tell them what they SHOULD do.

Updating Skinner

Latent learning, learning that happens without reinforcement. It only becomes apparent when a reinforcer is introduced. Overjustification effect – when you reward a behavior that doesn’t need to be rewarded and cause the subject to care about the reward rather than the good behavior. Intrinsic motivation – when you do something for its own sake


Extrinsic motivation – when you do something for an external reward. Biological predispositions – affect operant conditioning as well as classical. Its more difficult to use food to control face washing than where a hampster digs because they normally dig for food but don’t wash their face for it. Immediate reinforcement works best in operant conditioning, exp. Smoking.

Skinner’s legacy
School – teaching by machine… ability to provide individualized, immediate reinforcement.  Work – profit sharing, define goals and have them be achievable  At Home – spending behavior, having to pay utilities curbs their usage. Examples: cigarette taxes Parenting: Figure out how you WANT your children to behave and target that behavior for positive reinforcement. Ignore whining – eventually it will diminish. For bad behavior use an explanation and a “time out.”

Observational Learning
 

We learn when we observe others. Modeling – the process of observing and imitating a specific behavior Mirror neurons – frontal lobe neuron that fire when performing an action or watching someone perform the same action – a physiological way to explain observational learning

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