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Behavioral Versus Cognitive Views of Learning. The Problem of Transposition. Key Issue in Learning Theory: What is Learned?. Behavioral View : An association is formed between a specific stimulus and a specific action.

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The Problem of Transposition

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The problem of transposition l.jpg

Behavioral Versus Cognitive Views of Learning

The Problem of Transposition

Key Issue in Learning Theory: What is Learned?

Behavioral View: An association is formed between a specific stimulus and a specific action.

Cognitive View: A mental structure is formed that represents the various elements of a problem and how they relate to each other.

We learn by discovering how things are related.

To contrast these views, we’ll see how they explain learning in a type of discrimination task called “transposition”.


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Behavioral Versus Cognitive Views of Learning

The Problem of Transposition

The Task

A chimpanzee faces two boxes.

Each box has a card attached to the front.

One card is light gray

and the other is medium gray.

X

If he pushes aside the box with the medium gray card, he receives food as a reward.

If he chooses the light gray card, he gets no food on that trial.


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Behavioral Versus Cognitive Views of Learning

The Problem of Transposition

The Task

The positions of the cards, left or right, are switched randomly from trial to trial. The chimp can’t be correct all the time by always choosing the card on one side.

Trial 1


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Behavioral Versus Cognitive Views of Learning

The Problem of Transposition

The Task

The positions of the cards, left or right, are switched randomly from trial to trial. The chimp can’t be correct all the time by always choosing the card on one side.

Trial 2


The problem of transposition5 l.jpg

Behavioral Versus Cognitive Views of Learning

The Problem of Transposition

The Task

The positions of the cards, left or right, are switched randomly from trial to trial. The chimp can’t be correct all the time by always choosing the card on one side.

Trial 3


The problem of transposition6 l.jpg

Behavioral Versus Cognitive Views of Learning

The Problem of Transposition

The Task

The positions of the cards, left or right, are switched randomly from trial to trial. The chimp can’t be correct all the time by always choosing the card on one side.

Trial 4


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Behavioral Versus Cognitive Views of Learning

The Problem of Transposition

The Task

The chimp keeps getting trials until he makes a correct choice on every trial. In other words, he has learned to discriminate between medium gray and light gray.

?

Question: In theoretical terms, what has the animal learned?


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Behavioral Versus Cognitive Views of Learning

The Problem of Transposition

The Task

Let’s review what behaviorists and cognitivists generally say about the learning process:

Behavioral View: An association is formed between a specific stimulus and a specific action.


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Behavioral Versus Cognitive Views of Learning

The Problem of Transposition

The Task

Let’s review what behaviorists and cognitivists generally say about the learning process:

Cognitive View: A mental structure is formed that represents the various elements of a problem and how they relate to each other. We learn by discovering how things are related.


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Behavioral Versus Cognitive Views of Learning

The Problem of Transposition

The Task: Test Phase

To assess these views a test phase is conducted in which another pair of cards is presented:

Medium Gray

Dark Gray

The chimp gets a reward for choosing either medium gray or dark gray. Only a few trials are conducted to see if the animal has a preference based on what he learned in the training phase.


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Behavioral Versus Cognitive Views of Learning

The Problem of Transposition

The Task: Test Phase

The behavioral and cognitive views make different predictions about which card the chimp will choose.

Medium Gray

Dark Gray

What is the behavioral prediction and why?

Answer: Medium gray. The animal formed an association between that specific stimulus and the action of moving the box away.


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Behavioral Versus Cognitive Views of Learning

The Problem of Transposition

The Task: Test Phase

The cognitive view predicts dark gray. What is the reasoning? This may seem to go against common sense...

Medium Gray

Dark Gray

Dark gray is a new stimulus. The animal never received a reward for choosing it before. Why should he choose it now?


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Behavioral Versus Cognitive Views of Learning

The Problem of Transposition

The Task: Test Phase

Answer: During training the animal learned to choose the darker of the two stimuli, not one specific stimulus.

Medium Gray

Dark Gray

Dark gray is now the darker of the two stimuli, so the animal will “transpose” or transfer the relationship he learned from the training phase to the test phase.


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Behavioral Versus Cognitive Views of Learning

The Problem of Transposition

The Task: Test Phase

What’s your prediction? Are you a behaviorist or a cognitivist?

Medium Gray

Dark Gray

Result: The chimp chooses dark gray.

Findings like this provided strong support for cognitive theory and posed a major challenge to behavior theory.


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