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Learning. Psychology: A Concise Introduction 2 nd Edition Richard Griggs Chapter 4. Prepared by J. W. Taylor V. Different Perspectives. Behavioral psychologists have focused on the learning of associations through classical conditioning and operant conditioning

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Psychology: A Concise Introduction2nd Edition

Richard Griggs

Chapter 4

Prepared byJ. W. Taylor V

different perspectives
Different Perspectives
  • Behavioral psychologists have focused on the learning of associations through classical conditioning and operant conditioning
  • Cognitive psychologists studying learning are interested in the more complex type of earning involved in human memory
the journey
The Journey…
  • Learning Through Classical Conditioning
  • Learning Through Operant Conditioning
  • Biological and Cognitive Aspects of Learning
learning through classical conditioning

Learning Through Classical Conditioning

The Elements and Procedures of Classical Conditioning

General Learning Processes in Classical Conditioning

classical conditioning
Classical Conditioning
  • The process of learning in which one stimulus signals the arrival of another stimulus
  • Sometimes called “Pavlovian” conditioning because Ivan Pavlov was the first researcher to systematically study this type of learning
  • A Russian physiologist studying digestive processes in dogs
  • The dogs were strapped into harnesses and had tubes inserted into their cheeks to measure the amount of salivation, the initial step in the digestive process
  • With time, he noticed that the dogs started to salivate before the meat powder was even put in their mouths, and wanted to know why this was happening
elements and procedures of classical conditioning
Elements and Procedures of Classical Conditioning

Unconditioned Stimulus(UCS)

Unconditioned Response(UCR)



Conditioned Stimulus (CS)

Conditioned Response (CR)

ucs and ucr
  • Dogs salivate when meat powder is put in their mouths – this is a reflex, a response that occur automatically in the presence of a certain stimulus (i.e., meat powder)
  • An unconditioned stimulus (UCS)is the stimulus that elicits the reflexive response (here, the UCS is the meat powder)
  • An unconditioned response (UCR)is the response automatically elicited by the UCS (here, the UCR is salivating in response to the meat powder)
cs and cr
CS and CR
  • A neutral stimulus is a stimulus that does not naturally elicit the to-be-conditioned response (e.g., auditory tones)
  • To achieve conditioning, the neutral stimulus (a tone) is presented just before (ideally one-half to one full second before) the UCS (meat powder) for several trials
  • Once the conditioning occurs (that is, the dog starts to salivate to the sound of the tone before the food is put in its mouth), the neutral stimulus is called the conditioned stimulus (CS)
  • The learned response to the conditioned stimulus is called the conditioned response (CR)
delayed and trace conditioning
Delayed and Trace Conditioning
  • In delayed conditioning, the offset of the CS is delayed until after the UCS is presented so that the two stimuli occur at the same time
    • The tone would be turned on and continue to sound until the meat powder was placed in the dog’s mouth
  • In trace conditioning, there is a period of time between the offset of the CS and the onset of the UCS when neither stimulus is present
    • It is called “trace” conditioning because there must be a memory trace of the CS for the association between stimuli to be learned
  • Delayed conditioning is the most effective procedure for classical conditioning; trace conditioning can be effective provided the interval between stimuli is brief
the little albert study
The “Little Albert” Study
  • John Watson and Rosalie Rayner conducted a study on an 11-month-old infant named Albert
  • While Albert was looking at a little white rat, Watson quietly sneaked behind him with a long iron bar and a hammer and clanged the two together
  • Albert’s reflexive response, the UCR, was a fear-avoidance response (e.g., crying and trying to crawl away) to the loud noise, which was the UCS
  • After pairing the white rat with the unexpected loud noise only 7 times, the white rat became a CS
other evidence
Other Evidence
  • Elise Bregman was unable to condition infants to fear inanimate objects such as wooden blocks and cloth curtains, suggesting possible biological predispositions to learn certain fears easier than others
  • Classical conditioning can be used to condition positive reactions, such as in advertising to condition positive attitudes and feelings toward certain products (e.g., a celebrity serves as a UCS, and the product as the CS)
general learning processes in classical conditioning
General Learning Processes in Classical Conditioning
  • Acquisition is the process of acquiring a new response, that is, a CR to a CS
    • The strength of the CR increases during acquisition
  • Other processes:





  • A CS must reliably signal that the UCS is coming
  • Extinction is the disappearance of the CR when the UCS no longer follows the CS
    • The strength of the CR decreases during extinction
spontaneous recovery
Spontaneous Recovery
  • During the extinction process, however, the CR mysteriously increases somewhat in strength following a rest interval
  • This is called spontaneous recovery
    • As extinction continues, the recovery observed following rest intervals continues to decrease until it is minimized
stimulus generalization
Stimulus Generalization
  • Stimulus generalization is giving the CR to a stimulus similar to the CS
    • The more similar the stimulus is to the CS, the stronger the response will be
    • For example, if a dog learns to bark at the door bell, she may, at least in a new home, also bark at the telephone because both stimuli are ringing noises
    • This is an adaptive process because classical conditioning would not be very useful if it only allowed us to learn relationships between specific stimuli
stimulus discrimination
Stimulus Discrimination
  • Overgeneralizing a response may not be adaptive, however; thus, we need to learn to discriminate among stimuli
  • Stimulus discriminationis learning to give the CR only to the CS or only to a small set of very similar stimuli including the CS
    • For example, after being in her new home for a period of time, the dog will learn to differentiate/discriminate between the door bell and the phone ringing noises
discrimination training
Discrimination Training
  • During discrimination training, you present many different stimuli numerous times, but the UCS only follows one CS
    • This procedure will extinguish the responses to other stimuli
learning through operant conditioning

Learning Through Operant Conditioning

Learning Through Reinforcement and Punishment

General Learning Processes in Operant Conditioning

Partial-Reinforcement Schedules in Operant Conditioning

Motivation, Behavior, and Reinforcement

operant conditioning
Operant Conditioning

Learning to associate behaviors with their consequences

  • Behaviors that are reinforced (lead to satisfying consequences) will be strengthened, and behaviors that are punished (lead to unsatisfying consequences) will be weakened
  • Called “operant” conditioning because the organism needs to “operate” on the environment to bring about consequences from which to learn
the law of effect
The Law of Effect
  • Thorndike’s Law of Effect states that any behavior that results in satisfying consequences tends to be repeated, and any behavior that results in unsatisfying consequences tends not be repeated
learning through reinforcement and punishment
Learning Through Reinforcement and Punishment
  • A reinforcer is a stimulus that increases the probability of a prior response
  • Reinforcement is the process by which the probability of a response is increased by the presentation of a reinforcer following the response
    • For example, if you operantly condition your dog to bark by giving her a treat each time she “speaks,” the food would be a reinforcer, and the process of increasing the dog’s speaking behavior by using this reinforcer would be called reinforcement
learning through reinforcement and punishment26
Learning Through Reinforcement and Punishment
  • A punisher is a stimulus that decreases the probability of a prior response
  • Punishment is the process by which the probability of a response is decreased by the presentation of a punisher following the response
    • For example, if you conditioned your dog to stop getting up on the couch by spraying her with water each time she got up on the couch, the spraying would be the punisher, and the process of decreasing her couch jumping behavior would be called punishment
positive and negative
Positive and Negative
  • Positive means that a stimulus is presented
    • In both positive reinforcement and positive punishment, a stimulus presented
  • Negative means that a stimulus is removed
    • In both negative reinforcement and negative punishment, a stimulus is removed
appetitive and aversive
Appetitive and Aversive
  • An appetitive stimulus is a stimulus that an organism finds pleasing (e.g., food, money)
  • An aversive stimulus is a stimulus that an organism finds unpleasing (e.g., sickness, social isolation)
appetitive and aversive29
Appetitive and Aversive
  • Consequently...
    • In positive reinforcement, an appetitive stimulus is presented (e.g., praise for good work)
    • In positive punishment, an aversive stimulus is presented (e.g., scolding for doing poor work)
    • In negative reinforcement, an aversive stimulus is removed (e.g., using a heating pad for a sore back)
    • In negative punishment, an appetitive stimulus is removed (e.g., parents taking away desert from a child)
how do we know
How do we know?
  • In any example of positive or negative reinforcement or punishment, it is critical to realize that we only know if a stimulus has served as a reinforcer or a punisher and led to reinforcement or punishment if the behavior happens again or stops happening
primary and secondary reinforcers
Primary and Secondary Reinforcers
  • A primary reinforcer is innately reinforcing since birth (e.g., food, social contact)
  • A secondary reinforcer is not innately reinforcing, but gains reinforcing properties through learning (e.g., money, good grades)
general learning processes in operant conditioning
General Learning Processes in Operant Conditioning
  • Shapingoccurs when an animal is trained to make a particular response by reinforcing successively closer approximations to the desired response
    • With humans, this might mean reinforcing a child the closer he comes to making his bed correctly each morning
  • Responding in an operant conditioning experiment is depicted in a cumulative record – a record of the total number of responses over time
    • It is a visual depiction of the rate of responding
    • As the slope of a line in a cumulative record gets steeper, the response rate is faster
acquisition extinction and spontaneous recovery35
Acquisition, Extinction, and Spontaneous Recovery
  • Acquisition refers to the strengthening of the reinforced operant response
  • Extinction is the disappearance of the operant response when it is no longer reinforced
    • The decreasing slope of the record indicates that the response is being extinguished (i.e., there are fewer and fewer responses over time)
  • Spontaneous recovery is the temporary recovery of the operant response following a break during extinction training
vending machines
Vending Machines
  • We learn that by putting money into a vending machine, we get something we really like. We acquire the response of inserting money into this particular machine.
  • But one day, we put money in and get no food out. This happens again. Soon, we stop putting money in the vending machine. Our response is being extinguished.
  • However, after a period of time, we go back and try again (spontaneous recovery). If the machine has been repaired, we will get our food, and our response rate returns to its previous level. If not, we continue along our extinction trail.
discrimination and generalization
Discrimination and Generalization
  • A discriminative stimulus is one that has to be present for the operant response to be reinforced
    • It “sets the occasion” for the response to be reinforced
    • For example, a rat learns that pressing a lever will result in food only when a light is on, but not when the light is off
  • Stimulus generalization is the giving the operant response in the presence of stimuli similar to the discriminative stimulus
    • For example, the rat learns to press the lever for food only when the light is a certain shade of red. Presentation of different colored lights following acquisition constitutes a test for generalization.
partial reinforcement schedules in operant conditioning
Partial-Reinforcement Schedules in Operant Conditioning
  • Reinforcing every response is called a continuous schedule of reinforcement
  • Partial schedules of reinforcement reinforce behavior only part of the time
    • The partial-reinforcement effect states that responses that are reinforced according to a partial schedule rather than a continuous schedule are more resistant to extinction
partial reinforcement schedules
Partial-Reinforcement Schedules
  • A ratio schedule is based on the number of responses made
  • An interval schedule is based on the amount of time that has elapsed
  • In a fixed schedule, the number of responses required for a ratio schedule or the amount of time needed for an interval schedule is fixed
  • In a variable schedule, the number of responses required for a ratio schedule and amount of time for an interval schedule varies on each trial
ratio schedules
Ratio Schedules
  • In a fixed ratio schedule, a reinforcer is delivered after a fixed number of responses are made (e.g., a rat has to press a lever 10 times before receiving the reinforcer of food)
  • In a variable ratio schedule, the number of responses it takes to obtain a reinforcer varies on each trial but averages out to be a certain number over trials (e.g., slot machine payoffs)
interval schedules
Interval Schedules
  • In a fixed interval schedule, a reinforcer is delivered after the first response is given once a set interval of time has elapsed (e.g., periodic exams in a class, with most behaving/studying occurring right before the exam/reinforcer)
  • In a variable interval schedule, a reinforcer is delivered after a different time interval on each trial, but the time intervals over trials average to be a set time (e.g., pop quizzes)
which is best
Which is best?
  • Ratio schedules lead to higher rates of responding than interval schedules (steeper slopes on the cumulative record)
  • Variable schedules lead to fewer breaks (no responding occurring) after reinforcement than fixed schedules
  • With respect to extinction, it will take longer to extinguish a response with a partial-reinforcement schedule than a continuous reinforcement
motivation behavior and reinforcement
Motivation, Behavior, and Reinforcement

Motivationis the set of internal and external factors that energize our behavior and direct it toward goals

theories of motivation
Theories of Motivation
  • Drive-reduction theory proposes that first, a bodily need (such as hunger) creates a state of bodily tension called drive; then, a motivated behavior (seeking food) works to reduce this drive by obtaining reinforcement (food) to eliminate this need and return the body to a balanced internal state.
    • In essence, we are “pushed” into action by unpleasant drive states
    • Effective at explaining biological needs such as hunger and thirst
theories of motivation48
Theories of Motivation
  • Incentive theory proposes that we are “pulled” into action by incentives, external environmental stimuli that do not involve drive reduction
    • For instance, students may be motivated by getting good grades, leading them to work and study hard
    • Money is another classic example of an incentive that “pulls” us into behaving in certain ways
theories of motivation49
Theories of Motivation
  • Arousal theory contends that our behavior is motivated to maintain an optimal level of arousal, which varies among people
    • When below the optimal level, we are motivated to raise our arousal to that level
    • When over-aroused, we are motivated to lower our arousal level to our optimal level of arousal
    • Arousal theory argues that our level of arousal impacts our performance level, with a certain level being optimal
the yerkes dodson s law
The Yerkes-Dodson’s Law

Increased arousal will aid performance up to a point, after which further arousal impairs performance

extrinsic vs intrinsic motivation
Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation
  • Extrinsic motivation is the desire to perform behavior to obtain an external reinforcement or to avoid an external aversive stimulus
  • Intrinsic motivation is the desire to perform a behavior effectively and for its own sake
    • Reinforcement is provided by the activity itself
  • For example, why do students study for classes?
    • An extrinsic motivator would be grades
    • An intrinsic motivator would be enjoyment of the information
the overjustification effect
The Overjustification Effect
  • In a study by Lepper, Greene, and Nisbett (1973), some children who enjoyed playing with felt-tipped pens (they did so during free-play periods and were hence initially intrinsically motivated) were subsequently given prizes, an extrinsic incentive, for playing with the pens. Other such children were not given prizes for playing with the pens.
the overjustification effect53
The Overjustification Effect
  • A week later, when no prizes were give for playing with the pens, the children who had not received prizes a week earlier still continued to play with the pens, but children who had been given prizes spent much less time playing with the pens.
the overjustification effect54
The Overjustification Effect
  • Occurs when there is a decrease in an intrinsically motivated behavior after the behavior is extrinsically reinforced and then the reinforcement discontinued
  • The overjustification effect indicates that a person’s cognitive processing is influencing their behavior and that such processing may lessen the effectiveness of extrinsic reinforcers
  • However, extrinsic reinforcement is not likely to impact intrinsic motivation if the extrinsic reinforcement is dependent upon doing something well versus just doing it
biological and cognitive aspects of learning

Biological and Cognitive Aspects of Learning

Biological Preparedness in Learning

Latent Learning and Observational Learning

biological preparedness in learning
Biological Preparedness in Learning

Our preparedness to learn to fear objects dangerous to us (e.g., heights) and to avoid foods and drinks that make us sick has adaptive significance

taste aversion
Taste Aversion
  • Garcia and Koelling (1966) were studying the effects of radiation on rats
  • After several radiation treatments, the rats would still go into their experimental cages where they had been radiated, but would no longer drink the water in their experimental cages
taste aversion58
Taste Aversion
  • The researchers discovered that the water bottles in the experimental cages were made of a different substance than those in the home cages – plastic versus glass
  • Thus, the water had a different taste in the two cages, and the rats quickly learned an aversion to the experimental cage water bottles, even though the sickness came hours after being in the experimental cages
taste aversion59
Taste Aversion
  • Thus, taste aversion is a dramatic counterexample to the rule that the UCS (sickness) must immediately follow the CS (the different tasting water) for learning to happen
  • The rats did not learn taste aversion for any pairing of cue and consequence…
taste aversion60
Taste Aversion
  • The researchers examined two cues that were both paired with sickness through radiation:
    • Sweet-tasting water
    • Normal tasting water with clicking noises and flashing lights occurring when the rats drank the water
  • The rats that drank the sweet-tasting water easily learned the aversion to the water, but the rats that drank normal-tasting water while they experienced clicking noises and flashing lights did not do so
    • The rats just couldn’t learn to pair these environmental auditory and visual cues that occurred during their drinking with their later sickness; this pairing did not make any “biological” sense to the rats
instinctual drift
Instinctual Drift
  • The tendency of an animal to drift back from learned operant response to an object to an innate, instinctual response
  • Thus, biologically instinctual responses sometimes limit or hinder our ability to condition other less natural responses
  • Organisms will learn certain association (those consistent with their natural behavior) more easily than others (those less consistent with their natural behavior)
latent learning and observational learning
Latent Learning and Observational Learning
  • Latent learning is learning that occurs but is not demonstrated until there is incentive to do so
    • For example, students study for classes, but do not openly demonstrate learning until an exam, for which the incentive is a good grade
  • Observational learning (modeling) is learning by observing others and imitating their behavior
latent learning
Latent Learning
  • Edward Tolman was a pioneer researcher on latent learning
  • Food-deprived rats had to negotiate a maze, and the number of wrong turns/errors was counted
    • For example, in a three-group experiment, food (reinforcement) was always available in the goal box at the maze’s end for one group but never available for another group. For a third group, no food was available until the 11th day of the experiment.
latent learning64
Latent Learning
  • Interestingly, the performance for the group that only started getting food reinforcement on the 11th day improved immediately on the next day equal to that of the group that had always gotten food reinforcement
    • Thus, it appears that they had been learning the maze all along, but did not demonstrate their learning until the incentive was made available
observational learning
Observational Learning

Albert Bandura’s pioneering research on modeling

  • In one experiment, some children were exposed to an adult who beats, kicks, and yells at a Bobo doll
    • After observing this behavior, a child is taken to another room filled with many appealing toys, but is told the toys are for other children and s/he cannot play with them
    • Later, the child goes to another room with toys s/he can play with, including a Bobo doll
    • The child proceeds to beat the Bobo doll in much the same way the adult model did
  • However, when exposed to a gentle model, children acted more gently toward the doll than children exposed to model
  • Thus the children’s behavior was guided by the behavior of the model to which they were exposed
observational learning67
Observational Learning
  • In another experiment, an adult was rewarded for aggressive behavior, punished for aggressive behavior, or received no consequences at all
  • The children who saw the adult get reinforced for aggressive behavior acted more aggressively toward the Bobo doll than those who had seen the model act with no consequences
  • In addition, the children who had watched the adult get punished were less likely to act aggressively toward the doll than children who had not been exposed to any consequences for acting aggressively toward the doll