Chapter 6 Learning Learning The definition of Learning is: a relatively permanent change in behavior due to experience. it is the process of acquiring knowledge, skills, attitudes, or values, through our experience, research, or teaching, that causes a change of behavior that is measurable learning involves changing our behavior in response to experience How we respond to the environment (that?s called classical conditioning) How we act in the environment (that?s called operant conditioning) How we observe the environment (that?s called observational learning) Behaviorists are psychologists who insist that psychologists should study only observable, measurable behaviors, not mental processes. There is, however, a wide range of views among researchers who call themselves behaviorists. Methodological behaviorism Methodological behaviorists study only events that they can measure and observe. They sometimes use those observations to make inferences about internal events. Ex: If a monkey is more likely to show its teeth or make loud noises in response to the placement of a stuffed animal or a larger monkey of the same species in its cage, and to a recording of growling noises of a predatory cat, the methodological behaviorist will infer the presence of the intervening variable fear. Radical behaviorists believe that internal states are caused by events in the environment, or by genetics. The ultimate cause of behavior is observable events, not internal states. Behaviorists believe that the environment plays a powerful role in molding behavior. The rise of behaviorism Jacques Loeb argued that all animal and most human behavior could be explained with stimulus-response psychology. Stimulus-response psychology attempts to explain behavior in terms of how each stimulus triggers a response. Flinching from a blow and shading one?s eyes from strong light are examples of stimulus-response behaviors. Determinism - an assumption that all behavior has a cause and effect The assumptions of behaviorism If enough is known about an individual?s experiences, influences, and genetics, we can predict that individual?s behavior. Behaviorists believe that mental explanations are ineffective. Q. Why is she smiling? A. She is smiling because she is happy. Q How do you know she is happy? A. We can tell she is happy because she is smiling. Pavlov and Classical Conditioning Ivan Pavlov was a physiologist who won a Nobel Prize for his research on digestion. He is the Founder of Classical Conditioning He did not set out to discover classical conditioning. Pavlov noticed that the dogs he used to do his research salivated upon the sight of the lab workers who fed them. He concluded that this reflex was ?psychological? because it was based on the dog?s previous experiences. Based upon his tentative acceptance of the salivation as a reflex, Pavlov used the term conditional reflex to describe this response. A buzzer is a neutral stimulus because it elicits attention to the sound, but no automatic connection. The dogs would lift their ears and look around when the buzzer sounded, but no salivation was produced. He hypothesized that if a buzzer always preceded the food, the buzzer would begin to elicit the reflex of salivation. After a few pairings of the buzzer with the food, the dogs would begin to salivate as soon as the buzzer sounded. Figure 6.2 Figure 6.2 Pavlov used dogs for his experiments on classical conditioning and salivation. The experimenter rings a buzzer (CS), presents food (UCS), and measures the responses (CR and UCR). Pavlov collected saliva with a simple measuring pouch attached to the dog?s cheek. In his famous experiment, Classical conditioning happens when an animal learns to associate a neutral stimulus (signal) with a stimulus that has intrinsic meaning based on how closely in time the two stimuli are presented. The classic example of classic conditioning is a dog's ability to associate the sound of a bell (something that originally has no meaning to the dog) with the presentation of food (something that has a lot of meaning for the dog) a few moments later. Dogs are able to learn the association between bell and food, and will salivate immediately after hearing the bell once this connection has been made. Purpose of Experiment For the first time, scientists could research human learning by the associations between two stimulus. They could chart out what effect this had on our responses. The research helped us understand and use the power of positive association. It paved the way for us to understand the role that negative associations can play in our phobias and irrational fears. STIMULUS TERMS Unconditioned Stimulus (US) - a stimulus that evokes an unconditioned response without any prior conditioning (no learning needed for the response to occur). - It is when animals react to stimulus without training Unconditioned Response (UR) - an unlearned reaction/response to an unconditioned stimulus that occurs without prior conditioning. - It is an action that the unconditioned stimulus automatically brings out. You react Conditioned Stimulus (CS) - a previously neutral stimulus that has, through conditioning, acquired the capacity to evoke a conditioned response. - It is a stimulus that we react to only after we learned about it - In Pavlov?s experiment, the sound of the bell meant nothing to the dogs at first. After the dogs learned that the sound of the bell is associated with the presentation of the meal, it became a conditioned stimulus. Conditioned Response (CR) - a learned reaction to a conditioned stimulus that occurs because of prior conditioning. - You learned how to react to the stimulus Examples: US = Produces a response without prior learning Food, Meat for dinner Bee sting Fire Balloon pop Air puff to your eye UR = Unlearned response that is automatically associated with US The dog salivates Crying Run from fire Startle response Blinking your eye Concept Check A puff of air is blown into a rabbit?s eye just after a musical tone is played. After several repetitions of this procedure, the rabbit closes its eye when the musical tone is played. What are the: UCS UCR CS And CR? Air puff Closing the eye Musical tone Closing the eye to the tone Concept Check A TV commercial for Mega Burger shows a delicious cheeseburger. A classic rock song is played during the commercial. You see the commercial several times, and now when the song is playing on the radio, you get hungry. What are the: UCS UCR CS And CR? Cheeseburger Hunger Rock song Hunger at sound of song Classical Conditioning The processes of classical conditioning ACQUISTION: The process that establishes or strengthens a conditioned response is called acquisition. This means that when an organism learns something new, it has been "acquired". EXTINCTION: To extinguish a classically conditioned response, the conditioned stimulus is repeatedly presented without the unconditioned stimulus. This is a gradual weakening and eventual disappearance of the CR tendency. Ex: extinction is the elimination of a learned behavior by discontinuing the reinforcer of that behavior. If a rat has learned to press a lever because it receives food for doing so, its lever-pressing will decrease and eventually disappear if food is no longer delivered. SPONTANEOUS RECOVERY: sometimes there will be a reappearance of a response that had been extinguished. The recovery can occur after a period of non-exposure to the CS. It is called spontaneous because the response seems to reappear out of nowhere. The temporary return of an extinguished response is called spontaneous recovery. Figure 6.5 Figure 6.5 The procedure for classical conditioning of the eye-blink response. Stimulus Generalization - a response to a specific stimulus becomes associated to other stimuli (similar stimuli) and now occurs to those other similar stimuli. For Example - a child who gets bitten by black lab, later becomes afraid of all dogs. The original fear evoked by the Black Lab has now generalized to ALL dogs. Stimulus Discrimination - learning to respond to one stimulus and not another. Thus, an organisms becomes conditioned to respond to a specific stimulus and not to other stimuli. For Example - a puppy may initially respond to lots of different people, but over time it learns to respond to only one or a few people's commands. Discrimination is the process of learning to respond differently to two stimuli because they produce two different outcomes. Edward Thorndike and Operant Conditioning In 1911, Harvard graduate student Edward Thorndike developed a simple, behaviorist explanation of learning. He used a learning curve, a graph of the changes in behavior that occur over successive trials of an experiment, to record how quickly cats learned to escape from a maze. He noted that cats would learn more quickly if the response selected produced an immediate escape. The cats would try a repertoire of behaviors to open the box, and gradually learn to more quickly select the one that produced escape. Thorndike observed that the escape from the box acted as a reinforcement for the behavior that led to the escape. A reinforcement is an event that increases the future probability of the most recent response. The type of learning that Thorndike studies has come to be known as operant or instrumental conditioning. The Law of Effect states that behaviors that are followed by pleasant consequences will be strengthened, and will be more likely to occur in the future. Conversely, behaviors that are followed by unpleasant consequences will be weakened, and will be less likely to be repeated in the future. Thorndike?s law of effect is another way of describing what modern psychologists now call operant conditioning. Thorndike research included cats, dogs, chickens. To see how they learn new behaviors, he used a small chamber called a Puzzle Box. He would place an animal in the puzzle box, and if it performed the correct response (such as pulling a rope, pressing a lever, or stepping on a platform), the door would swing open and the animal would be rewarded with some food located just outside the cage Soon it would take the animal just a few seconds to earn its reward. The simple version is: Learning = behavior + consequences Figure 6.11 Figure 6.11 Each of Thorndike?s puzzle boxes had a device that could open it. Here tilting the pole will open the door. (Based on Thorndike, 1911/1970) Figure 6.12 Figure 6.12 As the data from one of Thorndike?s experiments show, a cat gradually and irregularly decreases the time it needs to escape from a box. Thorndike concluded that the cat did not at any point ?get the idea.? Instead, reinforcement gradually increased the probability of the successful behavior. B.F. Skinner, Founder of Operant Conditioning B.F. Skinner is considered to be the most influential of all radical behaviorists. Operant Conditioning involves increasing a behavior by following it with a reward, or decreasing a behavior by following it with punishment. The term operant conditioning refers to the fact that the learner must operate, or perform a certain behavior, before receiving a reward or punishment. Operant Conditioning encourages us to behave in ways that exert influence or control over our environment. Example: When a rat learns that by pressing a lever gets more food, it has been operant conditioned to push the lever. When a child screams and gets her way, she has been conditioned the same way. It can be defined as a type of learning in which voluntary behavior is strengthened if it is reinforced. It is weakened if it is punished (or not reinforced) Beginning in the 1930s, Skinner spent several decades studying the behavior of animals?usually rats or pigeons?in chambers that became known as Skinner boxes. Shaping Behavior BF Skinner believed much of behavior could be studied in a single, controlled environment such as the Skinner Box. Instead of observing behavior in the natural world, he attempted to study behavior in a closed, controlled unit. This prevents any factors not under study from interfering with the study. Shaping establishes new responses by reinforcing successive approximations to it. Skinner used an ?operant chamber? (referred to as a ?Skinner box? by others) into which he put the animal he wished to train by shaping. Gradually the animal was reinforced for behaviors that approached the target activity until it fully performed the behavior. SHAPING: using reward or reinforcement to produce progressive changes in behavior in a desired direction. 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. Shaping is a reinforcement technique that is used to teach animals or people behaviors that they have never performed before. Skinner?s famous pigeon experiment For example, to make a pigeon turn in a complete clockwise circle, Skinner would first reinforce the pigeon with food for just turning a few degrees to the right. After the pigeon began turning to the right regularly, he would cease reinforcing until the pigeon turned a few more degrees in that direction, and when that behavior was established, wait until the pigeon turned further to the right, and reinforce that movement, until finally the pigeon turned completely around in a circle. Increasing and Decreasing the Frequency of Responses A reinforcement is an event that increases the probability that a response will be repeated. A reinforcement can be either the presentation of a desirable item such as money or food, or the removal of an unpleasant stimulus, such as verbal nagging or physical pain. The presentation of an event that strengthens or increases the likelihood of an event is called positive reinforcement. A parent praises a child for excellent performance on a test. A waiter receives an extra large tip for good service. A punishment is an event that decreases the probability of a response. A punishment can be the removal of a desirable condition such as driving privileges or the presentation of an unpleasant condition such as physical pain. Punishment tends to be ineffective except for temporarily suppressing undesirable behavior. Chaining Behavior is an operant conditioning method where behaviors are reinforced by opportunities to engage in the next behavior The animal learns the final behavior, and then the next to last, and so on, until the beginning of the sequence is reached. Eating is an example of a chained behavior in humans. Most of us first learn to eat with utensils, and gradually acquire the preceding activities of getting and preparing food. Reinforcer is something that increases the likelihood of the preceding response. Ex ? saccharin, a sweet chemical. Tobacco, alcohol are all reinforcers. Primary Reinforcers are unconditioned reinforcers like food and water. Unconditioned reinforcers meet primary, biological needs and are found to be reinforcing for almost everyone. Food and drink are unconditioned reinforcers. Secondary Reinforcers are conditioned reinforced like money, because it can be exchanged for food and water which are necessary reinforcers. Another ex ? you learn that good grades will win your parents? approval. Secondary reinforcers means ?learned.? We spent most of our time working for secondary reinforcers. Conditioned reinforcers are effective because they have become associated with unconditioned reinforcers. Money and grades are conditioned reinforcers. What Constitutes Reinforcement? The Premack Principle The Premack Principle, often called "grandma's rule," states that a high frequency activity can be used to reinforce low frequency behavior. This is a principle of operant conditioning originally identified by David Premack in 1965. A person who prefers going to the movies to going to museums can be reinforced for extra trips to the museum with free movie passes. In behavioral terms, Premack's principle states that any high-frequency activity can be used as a reinforcer for any lower-frequency activity. This common statement made by most mothers easily show us how Premack's Principle is used "You have to finish your VEGETABLES (Low Frequency) before you can eat any ICE CREAM (High Frequency)" The Premack principle is used in everyday life, especially with children (You may have some dessert after you finish your dinner). It's also often suggested as a method of improving your own behavior. Table 6.1 Table 6.2 Four categories of operant conditioning Conditioned Taste Aversions If learning occurs reliably after just one trial, it is hard to know if the learning was a result of classical conditioning or operant conditioning One kind of learning that occurs after a single trial is an association between eating something and getting sick. This is referred to as a conditioned taste aversion. If you eat something with an unfamiliar flavor and then feel ill, you quickly learn to avoid that flavor. Associating eating something with getting sick is conditioned taste aversion. Albert Bandura, Founder of Observational Learning The social-learning approach, defined by Albert Bandura, states that we learn many behaviors before we attempt them for the first time. Much learning, especially in humans, results from observing the behaviors of others and from imagining the consequences of our own. Two of the chief components of social learning are modeling and imitation. Observational learning is a term we use to describe how an animal learns by watching others. Observational learning occurs with no outside reinforcement -- the animal simply learns by observing. During the first few months of life many young animals' entire repertoire of behaviors is made up of behaviors that copy or mimic from others. Killer whales calves constantly follow their mothers and attempt to mimic everything they do. Bandura and his assistants did experiments in which children watched films of real people and cartoon characters either attacked an inflated ?Bobo? doll or did not. Children who saw the versions of the films with aggressive behavior were more likely to repeat those actions when left alone with a similar toy. The implication was that the children were imitating the aggressive behavior they had just witnessed in the film. Another aspect of the social learning approach is the idea that we are more likely to imitate behaviors that have been rewarding for other people, and we are less likely to imitate behaviors that create unpleasant results for others. Self-Efficacy in Social Learning We tend to imitate people we admire. Advertisers are keenly aware of this tendency and routinely use endorsements from celebrities and sports figures, and images of the happy, healthy, affluent people that most of us would like to be. We do not model ourselves after every admirable figure that we encounter. We imitate others only when we have a sense of self-efficacy, when we perceive ourselves as also being able to perform the task successfully. Classical conditioning, operant conditioning, conditioned taste aversions, and social learning represent a diverse set of influences on human behavior. Your everyday behavior is in large part a product of the combined effects of these processes.
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