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Approaches To Psychology (Edexcel A Level) > Learning > Flashcards

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What are Learning Theories about?

Students must show an understanding that learning theories are about learning from the environment and of the effects of conditioning, reinforcement, punishment, the role of reward and social learning on the organism.


What is the Perspective taken on the Learning Approach?

The learning approach, referred to as behaviourism, explains human behaviour as a product of a learning experience. We acquire behaviour for observation and imitation, association, and the consequences of a reward / punishment.


How does classical conditioning begin (in terms of Pavlov's Dog) ?

UCS = Food

UCR = Salivation

NS = Bell


What is beginning to happen (stage 2) in Pavlov's Dog?

Association occurs between the UCS (food) and NS (bell)


What ends up happening in Pavlov's Dog experiment (stage 3)?

The NS (bell) becomes the CS, giving a CR of salivation


What is meant by the UCS and UCR?

Unconditioned Stimulus: the incumbent object/ thing

Unconditioned Response: the natural reflex


What is the NS?

Neutral Stimulus: something that gives no reaction/ reflex


What is the CS and CR?

Conditioned Stimulus: Originally the Neutral Stimulus, it has been associated with the UCS

Conditioned Response: The now natural reaction to the CS. This is the same reaction to the UCS


What's the Background of Pavlov's study?

He was originally interested in studying digestive processes.

In Pavlov's experiment, he sets out the idea of reflexes, and links to the cerebral cortex; where he feels paths are established when new associations are made

Pavlov came involved in studying reflex reactions reflex reactions when he noticed the dogs reacting to the lab coats of his assistants. Each time the dogs were presented with food, the assistant brought the food whilst wearing a lab coat. In essence, the dogs were responding as if food was on its way in the presence of a lab coat.

In a sequence of experiments, Pavlov then tried to establish how the 2 phenomena were linked


What was the Aim of Pavlov's experiment?

To see how the cerebral cortex works, by looking at natural associations between stimuli and reflex response in organisms.


What was the Procedure of Pavlov's experiment?

Pavlov created a soundproof lab to see if the presentation of precise stimuli would evoke a response in conditions that ensured no direct contact between the dogs + experimenter

Pavlov used dogs in his experiments; and chose that the reflex of salivation to food, and the salivation reflex that is there to reject 'bad' food from the mouth

Pavlov the used a NS, e.g. a metronome

Over several learning trials, the dog was presented with the ticking of the metronome immediately before the food appeared


What were the Results of Pavlov's study?

If the metronome was ticking in close association with their meal, the dogs learned to associate the sound of the metronome with food.

After a while, just at the sound of he metronome, they responded by drooling.


What was the Conclusion of Pavlov's study?

Environmental stimuli that previously had no relations to a reflex action could, through repeated pairings, trigger a salivation reflex

Through the process of associative learning (conditioning), the conditioned stimulus leads to a conditioned respo


What are the Advantages of Pavlov's study?

Reliability: Representing the food + metronome simultaneously is a standardised procedure

Practical Application:

Internal Validity: Pavlov used a soundproofed lab, so that even hearing footsteps outside the room was not possible.


What are the Disadvantages of Pavlov's study?

Generalisability: Pavlov used a dog, which can not be generalisable to humans

Ecological Validity: The experiment happened in an artificial environment


Who conducted the Little Albert experiment?

Watson and Rayner


When was the Little Albert study conducted?



What was the aim of the Little Albert study?

To investigate whether a child can be classically conditioned to fear a white rat.


What happened before the conditioning in Little Albert's experiment?

• 9 month old Albert was shown a variety of objects, including a mask, a monkey and a white rat
• He showed no fear to any, and petted the white rat
• NS = White Rat


What happened during the conditioning stage of Little Albert's experiment?

• A week after the initial showcase of objects, he was shown the same objects. When the pet rat appeared, they banged a steel bar. This made Albert scared.
• They did this four times a week
•UCS = Steel Bar UCR= Fear


What happened during the conditioning stage of Little Albert's experiment?

• A week after the initial showcase of objects, he was shown the same objects. When the pet rat appeared, they banged a steel bar. This made Albert scared.
• They did this four times a week
•UCS = Steel Bar UCR= Fear


What happened after the conditioning of Little Albert's experiment? (Results part 1)

• Albert was scared of the pet rat, and cried every time it came near
• This fear generalised to similar objects, like a Santa’s beard, a white coat + a rabbit
• CS = White Rat CR= Fear


What happened 3 months after the Little Albert experiment? (Results part 2)

• 3 months later, extinction happened with his fear of the similar objects. He was still scared of the rat.
• He was removed from the experiment before they could get rid of his phobia


What did Watson + Rayner conclude about their Little Albert study?

You can be classically conditioned to fear an object.
Generalisation + extinction occurs with conditioning.


Was the Little Albert study Internally Valid?

Lab experiment, where variables were controlled; making results internally valid


Was the Little Albert study Ecologically Valid?

Lab experiment, where things aren’t natural (aren’t presented with object and strategically give the UCS of steel bar), possibly unnatural behaviour; limiting ecological validity


Which Ethical Guidelines did the Little Albert study break?

Protection from Harm (they inflicted fear)
Right to Withdraw (a 9 month old can't discuss this)
Informed Consent (a 9 month old can't consent)
Deception (the mother said she never knew what was going on)
Debriefing (the mother took Albert away before they could debrief)


What did Edward Thorndike say about Instrumental L Learning?

Instrumental Learning:

The term Edward Thorndike originally gave to the form of learning where the consequences of the behaviour dictates the further repeating of it.


What is the Law of Effect?

The idea that a response followed by a pleasant consequence is repeated; and one with a negative effect tends not to repeated, or it withdrew


What is Punishment?

Trying to reduce a certain (usually negative) behaviour