TOPIC 7: Learning and Behaviour Flashcards Preview

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1

Behaviourism founded by J.B. Watson (1878-1958)

- emphasized observable behaviours

- environment forms and modifies behaviours

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Learning 

is a change in behaviour, ability, or knowledge that results from experience.

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Associative learning 

 is a change that results from experience that leads us to link stimuli or events together.

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Classical Conditioning

(a.k.a. respondent conditioning)
 
Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936)

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Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936)

Russian physiologist

- performing research on the physiology of digestion

- measured dogs’ salivation to meat powder

- however, the dogs became “psychic,” salivating when technician entered the room, or when they heard his footsteps

- studied how stimuli (meat powder and footsteps) became associated with each other
• isolated dog in a room
• repeatedly rang bell and presented food
• measured dog’s salivation to food
• then measured salivation response to bell alone

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Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS)

stimulus that elicits a reflexive response without any previous learning

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Unconditioned Response (UCR)

reflexive response automatically elicited by a certain stimulus, with no prior learning

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Conditioned Stimulus (CS)

initially neutral stimulus (NS) that elicits a response after association with a UCS

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Conditioned Response (CR)

learned response elicited by an initially neutral stimulus which has been associated with a UCS

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Pavlov’s original terms

Pavlov’s original terms were unconditional (meaning “not dependent on”) and conditional (meaning “depending on”)

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Principles of Classical Conditioning

- sensitization
- habituation
- dishabituation
- acquisition
- extinction
- spontaneous recovery
- stimulus discrimination
- stimulus generalization

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sensitization

repeated presentations of stimulus cause increase in response

e.g., your attention is captured by the sound of a dripping faucet

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habituation

repeated presentations of stimulus cause decrease in response. Effects a response but sensory adaptation effects the receptors sensitivity

e.g., you pay less attention to the sound of rain

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dishabituation

after presentation of a novel stimulus, habituated response reappears

e.g., the sound of thunder makes you aware of the sound of rain again

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acquisition

learning UCS-CS association, and subsequent responses

- best when CS precedes UCS by 0.5 s

- backward conditioning

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backward conditioning:

CS follows UCS; not very effective

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extinction

repeated presentations of CS without UCS causes weakening and eventual disappearance of CR

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spontaneous recovery

after apparent extinction and rest pause, CS causes reappearance of CR

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stimulus generalization

tendency to produce a CR in response to a stimulus similar to CS

CS (yellow light) + UCS (air puff) → UCR (eye blink)

Orange light → CR (eye blink)

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stimulus discrimination

ability to distinguish and respond selectively to two different stimuli

CS+ is always followed by UCS

CS- is never followed by UCS

CS+ (yellow light) + UCS (air puff) → UCR (eye blink)

CS- (orange light) + no air puff → no eye blink

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conditioned fear and anxiety

phobias

CS (sight of dentist) + UCS (pain) → UCR (fear)

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conditioned emotional responses

e.g., advertising:

CS (product) + UCS (attractive person) → UCR (pleasant emotion)

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conditioning physiological responses (Bovbjerg et al., 1990)

e.g., immunosuppression:

CS (waiting room) + UCS (chemotherapy drug) → UCR (suppressed immune system)

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Classical Conditioning Pros & Cons

PROS:
- universal principles
- objective means of studying complex behaviours

CONS:
- mentalistic explanations may be required

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universal principles

can be applied to animals from earthworms to people

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Robert Rescorla & Allan Wagner (1972)

- goal: condition rats to fear a tone

Group. A: tone + shock 20 times → fear response

Group. B: tone + shock 20 times, mixed randomly with tone alone & shock alone 20 times → no fear response

Conclusion: amount of pairing is not as important as expectation the UCS follows the CS. not all stimuli follow the “rules of learning”

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Operant behaviours

Operant behaviours operate on the environment and produce consequences

• What is the relevance of consequences of behaviour?

• How can behaviours not naturally elicited be learned?

• How do you get a chimpanzee to do karate?

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B.F. Skinner (1904-1990)

- elaborated on E.L. Thorndike’s (1874-1949) Law of effect: reinforced behaviour is more likely to recur

- created the operant conditioning chamber (or Skinner box): allows control of environmental contingencies

- A-B-Cs
 

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A-B-Cs

specific antecedent signals that a certain behaviour will produce a particular consequence

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discriminative stimulus

A discriminative stimulus signals that a response will be followed by a consequence

- may be overt
- may be covert