Psychology Chapter 8 : Learning

-A relatively permanent change in an organism’s behavior due to experience
Conditioned Stimulus
-In classical conditioning. an originally irrelevant stimulus
that, after association with an unconditioned stimulus (US), comes to trigger a conditioned response
Conditioned Response
-In classical conditioning, the learned response to a previously neutral {but now conditioned) stimulus
Unconditioned Stimulus
-In classical conditioning, a stimulus that unconditionally- naturally and automatically-triggers a
Neutral Stimulus
-A Neutral Stimulus is a stimulus that produces no response other than catching your attention. For example, let’s say you have to bring your child to the pediatrician for a shot. Prior to the shot, the pediatrician presses a buzzer to call her assistant to come in and help her administer the vaccine. In this case, the sound of the buzzer is the neutral stimulus because it doesn’t produce any response from the child, but the child does notice it.

Each time your child goes to the pediatrician to get a shot, the doctor presses the buzzer before the shot. Now, every time your child hears the buzzer, she cries.

The first time she rang the buzzer to call the assistant, your child had no relevant response. The assistant came in and the pediatrician proceeded to give the shot, which caused your child to cry. After several visits where the doctor would always buzz to call her assistant and then administers the shot, your child began to associate the ringing of the buzzer with the shot. Now, as soon as the doctor rings the buzzer, your toddler starts to cry. The previously neutral stimulus of the buzzer has become what is called a conditioned stimulus, triggering a conditioned response (crying)

Unconditioned Response
-In classical conditioning, the unlearned, naturally
occurring response to the unconditioned stimulus {US), such as salivation when food is in the mouth
Classical/Pavlovian Conditioning
-A type of learning
in which an organism comes to associate
– A neutral stimulus that signals an unconditioned stimulus (US) begins to produce a response that anticipates and prepares
for the unconditioned stimulus
-Classical conditioning is one form of learning in which an organism “learns” through establishing associations between different events and stimuli. For example, when a neutral stimulus (such as a bell) is paired with an unconditioned stimulus (such as food) which produces some involuntary bodily response all on its own (such as salivating), the neutral stimulus begins to trigger a response by the organism similar (some salivation) to that produced by the unconditioned stimulus. In this way, the organism has “learned” that the neutral stimulus equals something good (just like the unconditioned stimulus)
-The initial stage in classical
conditioning; the phase associating a neutral
stimulus with an unconditioned stimulus
so that the neutral stimulus comes to elicit a conditioned response. In operant conditioning, the strengthening of a reinforced response
-The diminishing of a conditioned response; occurs in classical conditioning when an unconditioned stimulus
(US) does not follow a conditioned stimulus
(CS); occurs in operant conditioning when a
response is no longer reinforced
Spontaneous Recovery
-The reappearance, after a pause, of an extinguished conditioned response
-Generalization refers to a process within operant and classical conditioning, where a conditioned response (CR) starts occurring in response to the presentation of other, similar stimuli, not just the conditioned stimulus (CS). For example, a dog is trained to sit (CR) when you give the command, “sit” (CS). Soon after that, the dog might sit when you say “hit”, “bit”, and “kick”. In this case, the CR (sitting) is not only done to the CS (the command, “sit”) but also to commands that are similar
-Discrimination is a term that is used in both classical and operant conditioning. -In classical conditioning, it refers to an ability to distinguish between a conditioned stimulus (CS) and other, similar stimuli that don’t signal an unconditioned stimulus (US)
– For example, if Pavlov’s dog had developed discrimination, it would have salivated to the tone that had been paired with the delivery of the meat powder, and not a similar tone with a slightly different pitch
-In operant conditioning, the definition is essentially the same, but here the organism discriminates between a learned, voluntary response and an irrelevant, non-learned response
– For example, a dog that has learned to sit when a person says “sit” in order to receive a treat, but the dog does not sit when a person says “bit”
Operant Conditioning
-A type of learning
in which behavior is strengthened if followed
by a reinforcer or diminished if followed
by a punisher
Positive Reinforcement
-A Stimulus which increases the frequency of a particular behavior using pleasant rewards
– A doggy treat can pleasantly coerce your new puppy to sit (positive reinforcement) just as a pull to the choke collar can achieve the same affect (negative
-A kid throwing a temper tantrum and the parent giving theme what they want is also positive reinforcement for bad behavior
Negative Reinforcement
-With negative reinforcement the occurrence of a behavior is increased by removing an unpleasant stimulus
– For example, your dog can avoid being spanked when it sits in response to your command
– If the dog has been getting spanked, not getting spanked is rewarding (removal of unpleasant stimulus) so the frequency of the behavior will increase
– People confuse negative reinforcement with punishment–just remember that with reinforcement you increase the occurrence of the behavior but punishment extinguishes a behavior
-Can also be used to enforce good behavior
-This is a behavioral term that refers to gradually molding or training an organism to perform a specific response (behavior) by reinforcing any responses that are similar to the desired response
-For example, a researcher can use shaping to train a rat to press a lever during an experiment (since rats are not born with the instinct to press a lever in a cage during an experiment)
-To start, the researcher may reward the rat when it makes any movement at all in the direction of the lever
– Then, the rat has to actually take a step toward the lever to get rewarded
– Then, it has to go over to the lever to get rewarded (remember, it will not receive any reward for doing the earlier behaviors now…it must make a more advanced move by going over to the lever), and so on until only pressing the lever will produce reward. The rat’s behavior was “shaped” to get it to press the lever
Continuous Reinforcement
-This is an operant conditioning principle in which an organism is reinforced every single time that organism provides the appropriate operant response
– For example, you, as a researcher, might present a food pellet every time the rat presses the lever
-One of the biggest dangers when using this type of reinforcement is saturation (the organism basically gets full – you keep feeding it and it no longer wants the reinforcement because it is stuffed), so the idea that giving reinforcement all the time is the best way to teach/learn is not necessarily true
Primary Reinforcer
-Primary reinforcers are naturally reinforcing, i.e. there is no learning necessary for them to be reinforcing. The conditioned reinforcer is learned. For example, many people bribe children with candy to clean their room or do their homework. If the parent continued to bribe their children with candy and also had them put a checkmark on a job chart, after a while the parents could stop giving candy and only have the child make the checkmark and it would still be reinforcing. In this situation, the parent taught the child to be reinforced by making checkmarks.
-Marking the checkmark is the conditioned reinforcer because it had to be learned. In contrast, the candy is a primary reinforcer because it did not have to learned
Secondary Reinforcer
-This is also known as conditioned reinforcement in operant conditioning. -Secondary Reinforcement refers to a situation wherein a stimulus reinforces a behavior after being previously associated with a primary reinforcer or a stimulus that satisfies basic survival instinct such as food, drinks, and clothing. A secondary reinforcer can be helpful or not.
-A well known example – Money. Money is a secondary reinforcer because it doesn’t directly reinforce you–money itself doesn’t make you less hungry, less thirsty, etc–but you can use the money to get food, water, and other primary reinforcers. Therefore, you get secondary reinforcement through the ability to use money to get primary reinforces
Skinner Box
-The Skinner Box was created by Behaviorist B.F. Skinner who used it to study animals such as rats and pigeons
– The chamber (in the shape of a box) contains either a lever or key that can be pressed in order to receive reinforcements such as food and water. There was also a mechanism that recorded all the behaviors of the animals, the schedules of reinforcement the animals were on, etc. It was a very controlled environment that Skinner used to meticulously study behavior
-The Skinner Box created what is known as Free Operant Procedure – responses can be made and recorded continuously without the need to stop the experiment for the experimenter to record the responses made by the animal
– Punishment refers to the removal of a reinforcer (a desirable stimulus or opportunity) in response to an unwanted behavior, in order to decrease the probability of that behavior occurring again
-Putting a misbehaving child in “time out” is one example of negative punishment. The parent, teacher, or guardian takes away control, toys, free time, and other privileges from the child when he or she misbehaves so that the child will stop the bad or unwanted behavior
-Another example would be fines for speeding, in which money is taken from someone to get them to slow down in the future
Observational Learning
-The process of acquiring information by observing others. Learning to tie your shoe by observing another individual perform the task would be an example of observational learning
Schedules of Reinforcement
-reinforcement is a process that increases the frequency of a targeted behavior by either using a negative stimulus or a positive stimulus
– In addition, reinforcement is effective when it occurs on some schedule
-Psychologist have identified several different schedules by which reinforcement works well, including variable ratio, variable interval, fixed ratio, and fixed interval
-Each schedule provides reinforcement in different ways according to different criteria, and work better in different situations
-But the goal is always the same–deliver reinforcement in a way that increases the chances of a target behavior occuring more frequently
Cognitive Map
-Mental representation of
the layout of one’s environment
– For example,
after exploring a maze, rats act as if they have learned a cognitive map of it
Latent Learning
-Learning that occurs but
is not apparent until there is an incentive to
demonstrate it
Intrinsic Motivation
-A desire to perform
a behavior for its own sake.
Extrinsic Motivation
-A desire to perform
a behavior due to promised rewards or threats of punishment
Variable-Ratio Schedule
-In operant conditioning,
a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response after an unpredictable
number of responses
Fixed-Ratio Schedule
-In operant conditioning,
a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response only after a specified time
has elapsed.
Variable-Interval Schedule
-In operant conditioning, a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response at unpredictable time
Partial (Intermittent) Reinforcement
-Reinforcement reinforcing a response only part of the time; results in slower acquisition of a response
but much greater resistance to extinction than does continuous reinforcement
Law of Effect
-Thorndike’s principle that
behaviors followed by favorable consequences
become more likely, and that behaviors followed by unfavorable consequences
become less likely
Respondent Behavior
-Behavior that occurs as an automatic response to some stimulus; Skinner’s term for behavior learned through classical conditioning
Ivan Pavlov
-Pavlov originally discovered the idea of conditioning by accident – he noticed that dogs began to salivate even before they were presented with food. He later tested the concept using what became his most famous experiment. In that experiment he conditioning dogs to salivate in response to the sound of a bell. He did this by ringing a bell as he presented food, at which the dogs would respond by salivating. After several trials of the bell and food presented together, Pavlov rang the bell alone without presenting food and the dogs gave the usual salivary response. Salivation in response to the ringing of the bell is known as a “conditioned response”
-Pavlov’s work lay the foundation for Behaviorism, which dominated the field of psychology from the 19th century until the first half of the 20th century
B.F. Skinner
-According to this theory, the rate at which a certain behavior occurs is determined not by what precedes it, but by the consequence that follows it. For example, when a child puts away his toys, he gets praised by his parent. This positive consequence of the child’s behavior will increase the likelihood that he will put away his toys after playing with them.
-The key element to Skinner’s theory is the reinforcer, which may be positive or negative. A positive reinforcer is one whose presence increases the likelihood of the response. A reward like food, money, or verbal praise are considered positive reinforcers. A negative reinforcer is one whose absence increases the likelihood of the response
-The view that psychology {1) should be an objective science that {2) studies
behavior without reference to mental processes. Most research psychologists
today agree with (1) but not with {2
Prosocial Behavior
-Positive, constructive,
helpful behavior. The opposite of antisocial
-The process of observing and imitating a specific behavior
Mirror Neurons
-Frontal lobe neurons that
fire when performing certain actions or when
observing another doing so. The brain’s mirroring
of another’s action may enable imitation, language learning, and empathy
John B. Watson
-Called the Father of Behaviorism, which emphasizes objective and observable data such as people’s behavior and reactions, as opposed to internal process that cannot be observed like mental states, or thought processes.
-Watson outlined that major features of Behaviorism in an article entitled “Psychology As The Behaviorist Views It,” often referred to as the Behaviorist Manifesto.
-Watson’s most famous and controversial experiment is known as the Little Albert Experiment. Little Albert was an 11-month boy who was trained to fear a white rat by pairing it with a loud sound. In time, the child began to cry and show signs of distress upon seeing the white rat even without the accompanying sound. This fear was generalized to other furry objects like a rabbit, a dog, and a Santa Claus mask
-Phobias are unsound or illogical fears of objects or events. It is thought that phobias are learned or conditioned responses from early childhood experiences. For example, I know of a person who is uncontrollably afraid of birds (known as Ornithophobia – not bad, eh?). After speaking about her fear, I found that her mother used to put bird feathers on furniture, in rooms and other areas where she was not allowed. To this day, she refuses to go into pet stores where there are birds or sleep on a down pillow. Her mother unknowingly conditioned her to believing that birds are dangerous
-As its name suggests, the theory of one trial learning states that learning takes place in a single pairing of a response and stimulus and is not strengthened over time by repeated exposure to a stimulus. Edwin Guthrie, the American psychologist behind this theory, did not believe in conditioned learning where a reward following a behavior reinforces it. He believed that you learn from cues that come first and sort of “tell” you to do a behavior
-For instance, if you are driving and hear a siren, all the other cars pull over, and then you are nearly run off the road by a speeding fire truck – the next time you hear a siren you will take it as a cue to pull over
Behavioral Modification
-A type of behavioral therapy in which the principles of Operant Conditioning (reinforcement, punishments, etc.) are used to eliminate some type of unwanted, maladaptive, behavior. For example, a person may feel that they no longer want to smoke (the maladaptive behavior) and so the person is given a favorite piece of candy every time a cigarette is desired but refused. So, when the person wants a cigarette but does not have one, they get a piece of their favorite candy as a reward
Renewal Effect
-The renewal effect is when a conditioned response (CR) behavior returns when a change of context or environment occurs after extinction. When a CR has been extinguished the organism no longer emits the behavior when the conditioned stimulus is presented. But when a change of context occurs the CR can come back as if it had never been extinguished.
-Context are stimuli that are present in the organism’s environment. The stimuli can be manipulated in a research capacity or simply be noise or visual stimuli in the background environment where the learning and conditioning occurred. The renewal effect is strongest when an organism is returned to the original context in which the extinguished behavior was learned.
-An example is illustrated by an experiment with rats. A rat is inside a blue colored box and learns that it will receive food when it hears a tone. Eventually the rat will run to its food tray (CR) as soon as it hears the tone (which has become the conditioned stimulus). The rat is moved into a white box and is taught the same exact procedure. Eventually the researcher extinguishes the behavior by not providing food with the tone and the rat stops going to the food tray. If the renewal effect occurs the rat will start going to the tray when it hears the tone without the presentation of food. It is more likely for the CR to come back in the blue box which is the original context the rat learned the behavior

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