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Chapter 8:
How Do We
Learn?
Defining Learning
A
relatively permanent change in
behavior or the potential for
behavior that results from
experience



Results from many life experiences, not just
structured ones
May or may not be permanent change
May or may not show up in behavior
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Habituation
 Habituation
– when a stimulus is
repeated over and over again the
response to the stimulus decreases



Universality
Allows us to attend to potentially
threatening stimuli or to tune out nonthreatening stimuli
May protect brain from overstimulation
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Classical Conditioning: Learning
Through the Association of Stimuli
 Research
on digestive processes:
Pavlov noticed that his dogs
learned to associate a cue (bell)
with food
 Dogs became conditioned to
respond to the cue (stimuli) the
same way as food – by salivating
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
The Elements of Classical Conditioning
 Unconditioned
stimulus (US) naturally evokes
unconditioned response (UR)
 Food
(US) – salivate (UR)
 Pair
neutral (bell) and unconditioned stimuli
(food)


NS becomes a conditioned stimulus (CS) that
produces a conditioned response (CR)
Bell (NS) --- Salivate (CR)
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Factors Affecting Classical
Conditioning
 Relationship

in time: contiguity
NS/CS (bell) should precede the US (food)
 Consistency
and reliability:
contingency

NC/CS (bell) should reliably predict the
onset of the US (food)
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Real-World Classical Conditioning
 Emotional
responses
 Physiological responses
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Classical Conditioning of
Emotional Responses
 John
Watson experiments with
“Little Albert”
 Stimulus generalization –similar
stimuli to CS may elicit CR (from rats
to furry things)
 Stimulus discrimination – CR occurs
in response to only specific stimuli
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Classical Conditioning of Physiological
Responses: Taste Aversion
 Taste
aversions are often classically
conditioned
 Acquired easily
 Single pairing is sufficient for learning
 Interval between pairings can be long
 Real life applications
 Survival value
 Diet
 Aversion therapy for alcoholism and
chemotherapy
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Extinction of Classically Conditioned
Responses
 Extinction
– presenting CS (bell)
without presenting the US (food)
 Pavlov’s
extinction trials
 Spontaneous
recovery – temporary
increase in CR during or after
extinction
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Operant Conditioning
Learning
from the consequences
of behavior
E.L.
Thorndike
 Worked
with cat in puzzle box
 Cats learned to associate behavior (pull
switch) with behavior’s consequence
(getting out of box)
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
E.L. Thorndike’s Law of Effect
 Behaviors
that lead to positive
(satisfying) consequences will be
strengthened and more likely
 Behaviors
that lead to negative,
(discomforting) consequences will
be weakened and less likely to be
emitted
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Positive and Negative Reinforcement
 Positive

reinforcement
Behavior leads to something pleasant
 Negative

Behavior is rewarded by the removal of something
unpleasant
 Negative


reinforcement
reinforcement is not punishment
“Negative” means removing something
Remember that reinforcement increases behavior
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Positive and Negative Punishment
 Punishment
is an unpleasant
consequence that leads to a
decrease in behavior
 Positive punishment

Addition of something unpleasant that
decreases behavior
 Negative punishment
 Removal of something pleasant that decreases
behavior
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
B.F. Skinner and the Experimental Study
of Operant Conditioning
 Introduced


term operant conditioning
Respondent behavior – classically conditioned
behavior
Operant behavior – behavior that operates on
an organism’s environment to produce
consequence
 Developed
Skinner box for
administration of reinforcements in
animal experiments
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Acquisition and Extinction
 Acquisition – conditioning of a response

Behavior increases because it is reinforced
 Extinction



– loss of a conditioned response
Occurs because behavior is no longer reinforced
Extinction burst- temporary increase in behavior in the
absence of the reinforcer
Practical applications
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Schedules of Reinforcement
 Timing
and consistency of the reinforcement
affects rate at which behavior is acquired or
extinguished
 Continuous reinforcement – behavior is
rewarded each time exhibited



Simplest
Not always feasible
More vulnerable to extinction
 Partial
reinforcement – reward behavior only
some of the time

Ratio and interval
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Ratio Schedules of Reinforcement
 Fixed


ratio schedule
Set number of responses emitted before reward given
Slower extinction, high rates of responding
 Variable


ratio schedule
Exact number of responses needed to receive reward;
vary around an average
Even slower rates of extinction, high rates of
responding
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Interval Schedules of Reinforcement
 Fixed


interval schedule
Behavior rewarded once some interval of time has
passed
Most of responding occurs right around time reward is
due with pauses after reward
 Variable



interval schedule
Similar to variable ratio, but interval varies
Produces steady rates of responding
Most resistant to extinction
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Summary
 Continuous
reinforcement leads to
high rates of responding but the
quickest extinction
 Ratio schedules lead to higher rates
of responding than do interval
schedules
 Variable schedules lead to
behaviors that are most resistant to
extinction
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Discrimination and Generalization
 Discrimination
 Learns to distinguish among similar stimulus situations
and to offer a particular response only in situations
where reinforcement is expected
 Generalization
 Emits same behavior in response to different, but
similar, stimuli
 Prejudice
and discrimination as negative
outcomes of stimulus generalization and
stimulus discrimination
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Shaping New Behaviors
 First
step – behavior emitted spontaneously
 Shaping allows a new behavior to be
conditioned by successive approximations
 Real life examples


Animal training
Modifying children’s behavior
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Decisions That Must Be Made When
Using Operant Conditioning
 What

type of consequence?
Punishment or reinforcement
Punishment,
especially of the
harsh variety, is riskier and often
less effective
 Choosing a reinforcer that is
reinforcing


Primary reinforcers are directly reinforcing
Secondary reinforcers are rewarding
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1 edition
because they lead to primary reinforcers
© 2010 Cengage Learning
st
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
The High Risks of Punishment
 Punishment
does not teach the
correct/desired behavior
 Harsh punishment teaches
aggression
 Harsh punishment often ineffective
at producing behavior changes
 Harsh punishment leads to negative
emotional reactions like anger, fear,
and anxiety
 Physical punishment should be
avoided
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Making Punishment More Effective
 Tell
child about appropriate
behavior, then reinforce it
 Minimize situations that tempt bad
behavior
 Use punisher that’s aversive
 Punishment must occur right after
behavior
 Punishment must occur every time
behavior occurs
 Remain calm while punishing
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
The Role of Cognition in Learning
 Learning
theories do not emphasize mental
or cognitive processes

Behaviorism – only behavior can be studied
 Kohler’s
studies with chimps demonstrated
insight learning
 Tolman’s studies with rats demonstrated
latent learning

Rats developed a cognitive map or mental
representation to learn
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Social Learning or Modeling
 Learn
by observing other and
imitating or modeling behaviors
 Observational learning or modeling
 Different from behaviorism


Acknowledges learning can occur without
obvious change in behavior
Acknowledges role of cognition in learning
process
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Albert Bandura and the Bobo Doll
Experiments
 Social
learning theory
 Bobo doll experiments

Children watched film in which adult beat up doll then
were observed interacting with own Bobo doll
three
conditions: adult rewarded, adult
punished or no consequences for
beating doll

Children who saw rewards or no consequences more
likely to be aggressive
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Implications of Bandura’s Experiments
 Don’t
have to engage in behavior
for learning to occur
 Learning can be latent
 Media aggression and modeling?
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
Social Learning Theory and Cognition
 Four




steps to modeling
Attention – must attend to behavior of
model
Retention – must retain cognitive
representation or memory of model’s
behavior
Reproduction of behavior – use memories
to reproduce behavior; have physical
abilities to do so
Motivation – must be motivated to execute
behavior
Pastorino/Doyle-Portillo
Essentials of What Is Psychology? 1st edition
© 2010 Cengage Learning
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