Phobias: Irrational fears of specific objects or situations, often the result of a type of learning called classical conditioning

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1 PSYC 1001 Page 1 Chapter 6 Phobias: Irrational fears of specific objects or situations, often the result of a type of learning called classical conditioning Learning: A relatively durable change in behaviour or knowledge due to experience includes the acquisition of knowledge and skills, but also habits, personality traits, emotional responses, and preferences Much study on learning is performed with animals, as much more control can be exerted over them Conditioning: A type of learning where associations are made between events occurring in an organism's environment Classical Conditioning (p. 239) Classical conditioning (Pavlovian conditioning): A type of learning where a stimulus acquires the capacity to evoke a response that was originally evoked by another stimulus for example, a dog starting to drool any time a can opener is used, because it's usually followed by food Ivan Pavlov was trying to study the digestive system of dogs when he discovered classical conditioning he was measuring the saliva they produced when eating, yet after a while they began to salivate before the food was given He began giving various cues that food was on the way, such as ringing a bell eventually the bell, a neutral stimulus, would be enough to make the dog salivate Thus, the tone acquired the capacity to trigger the same response originally reserved for food Terminology Unconditioned stimulus: A stimulus that evokes an unconditioned response without previous conditioning Unconditioned response: An unlearned reaction to an unconditioned stimulus that occurs without previous conditioning Conditioned stimulus: A previously neutral stimulus that has, through conditioning, acquired the capacity to evoke a conditioned response Conditioned response: A learned reaction to a conditioned stimulus that occurs because of previous conditioning The unconditioned response and conditioned response consist of basically the same behaviour salivating, for example Conditioned responses have been characterized as reflexes because they are automatic or involuntary the responses themselves are said to be elicited or drawn forth Trial: Any presentation of a stimulus or pair of stimuli the key measurement in classical conditioning being how many trials are required to establish a bond

2 PSYC 1001 Page 2 Pavlov's classical conditioning Classical conditioning in everyday life Classical conditioning often plays a key role in shaping emotional responses such as fears and phobias for example, a child tormented by her father as they cross a rickety bridge may become afraid of all bridges Positive things can also elicit emotional responses for example, a particular song may be related to events in your life, or people may be more tempted to buy a product endorsed b a famous or attractive person Classical conditioning may also be related to the development of fetishes Classical conditioning and drugs Classical conditioning also contributes to drug tolerance and withdrawal symptoms the body produces compensatory responses to counteract the effects of the drug on the body Compensatory conditioned responses: Adaptive attempts made by the body to compensate for the effects of drugs most drugs users have routines that lead to the pairing of drugs with certain stimuli, which begin to elicit compensatory responses to cancel out the effects of the drugs If the drugs are taken in a new way or setting, the compensatory effects won't occur vastly increasing the risk of overdose Processes in classical conditioning Most conditioned responses are reflexive and difficult to control you can't really stop yourself from salivating or being afraid Acquisition: The initial stage of learning something Stimulus contiguity: When stimuli are paired together in time and space the optimal delay is 0.5 seconds Not all pairings produce classical conditioning, despite the many stimuli we experience stimuli that are novel, unusual or especially intense have more potential to become conditioned stimuli, because they stand out Extinction: The gradual weakening and disappearance of a conditioned response the consistent presentation of the conditioned stimulus alone, without the unconditioned stimulus, will reduce the capacity for the conditioned stimulus to elicit the response The strength of the conditioned bond affects the number of trials required for extinction some extinguish quickly, while others are difficult to weaken Spontaneous recovery: The reappearance of an extinguished response after a period of nonexposure to the conditioned stimulus Pavlov's dogs, after having more or less stopped responding to the conditioned stimulus, would then salivate again the next day when presented with it though less than they had before

3 PSYC 1001 Page 3 then salivate again the next day when presented with it though less than they had before If the conditioned stimulus was presented alone again, the response would reextinguish quickly Renewal effect: If a response is extinguished in a different environment from where it was acquired, it will reappear if returned to the original environment this suggests that extinction doesn't lead to erasing the learned association Even if you manage to rid yourself of a conditioned response, it may make an unexpected recovery Stimulus generalization: When an organism has learned a response to a specific stimulus, and responds in the same way to similar stimuli For example, being afraid of alldogs after having been bit by a single dog a potentially adaptive response The likelihood of generalization depends on the similarity between the new stimulus and the original conditioned stimulus the more similar new stimuli are, the greater the generalization Generalization gradients: Graphs of the strength of generalization response Stimulus discrimination: When an organism does not respond in the same way to a stimulus similar to one it has been conditioned to Organisms can gradually learn to discriminate between the original conditioned stimulus and similar stimuli if they have experience with both Development of stimulus discrimination requires the original conditioned stimulus being paired with the unconditioned stimulus, while similar stimuli are not paired with the unconditioned stimulus The less similar stimuli are, the greater the likelihood and ease of discrimination if they are quite similar, discrimination will be difficult to learn

4 PSYC 1001 Page 4 similar, discrimination will be difficult to learn Higherorder conditioning: When a conditioned stimulus functions as if were an unconditioned stimulus the response is internalized to the point of seeming natural Also shows that classical conditioning doesn't depend on a genuine unconditioned stimulus new conditioned responses can be built on top of already established conditioned responses Operant Conditioning (p. 247) Operant conditioning (instrumental learning): A form of learning in which responses come to be controlled by their consequences this regulates voluntary responses and involves stimuli that occur after the response Edward Thorndike emphasized that this type of conditioning is often instrumentalin obtaining an outcome i.e. it seems to cause the outcome which led to his Law of Effect Law of effect: If a response in the presence of a stimulus leads to satisfying effects, the association between the stimulus and response is strengthened B.F. Skinner demonstrated that organisms tend to repeat responses that are followed by favourable consequences Reinforcement: When an event followed by a response increases an organism's tendency to make that response Operant chamber (Skinner Box): A small enclosure in which an animal can make a specific response that is recorded while the consequences are systematically controlled an automated system for testing conditioning Operant responses are voluntary, and so they are said to be emitted Reinforcement contingencies: The circumstances or rules that determine whether responses lead to the presentation of reinforcers the experimenter manipulates whether positive consequences occur when the animal makes the designated response Response rate: The key variable measured in operant conditioning represents the learning that is occurring, as an animal will respond more often as a stronger connection is made Cumulative recorder: A part of the Skinner Box that creates a graphic record of responding and reinforcement as a function of time when there is no responding, a horizontal line is drawn, and when the designated response occurs it moves upward a steep line reproduces a quick response rate Processes in operant conditioning Shaping: Reinforcement of closer and closer approximations of a desired response for example, reward a rat every time it gets progressively closer to a lever it is supposed to press Shaping is necessary when an organism doesn't naturally emit the desired response rats don't generally press levers on their own Extinction: The gradual weakening and disappearance of a response tendency because it is no longer followed by a reinforcer a brief surge in response rate occurs at first, then a gradual decline Resistance to extinction: When an organism continues to make a response after delivery of the reinforcer has been terminated the greater the resistance to extinction, the longer responding will continue Discriminative stimuli: Cues that influence operant behaviour by indicating the probably consequences (reinforcement or not) of a response When a response is consistently followed by a reinforcer in the presence of a particular stimulus

5 PSYC 1001 Page 5 When a response is consistently followed by a reinforcer in the presence of a particular stimulus (food is delivered when a green light is on) the stimulus comes to serve as a signal indicating that the reinforcer is coming a rat will learn to only press a lever when the green light comes on Generalization would occur if your pet responded to the sound of a new kitchen appliance (thinking it is the can opener) while discrimination would be learning to only respond to the can opener Reinforcement Reinforcement occurs whenever an outcome strengthens a response (measured by an increase in the rate of responding) this is defined after the fact For example, wearing a particular shirt on the day you do well on a test could lead to a superstitious behaviour of wearing that shirt any day you have a big test this would be reinforcement of a response Primary reinforcers: Events that are inherently reinforcing because they satisfy biological needs food, water, warmth, sex, etc. Secondary reinforcers: Events that acquire reinforcing qualities by being associated with primary reinforcers these vary among members of a species because they depend on learning, but some common examples for humans would be money, good grades, attention, or applause Schedules of reinforcement Schedule of reinforcement: Determines which occurrences of a specific response result in the presentation of a reinforcer Continuous reinforcement: When every instance of a designated response is reinforced i.e. food is given every time a rat presses a lever this is used to shape and establish a new response Intermittent (partial) reinforcement: When a designated response is reinforced only some of the time Given an equal number of reinforcements, intermittent reinforcement makes a response more resistant to extinction Types of intermittent reinforcement: Fixedratio schedule: The reinforcer is given after a fixed number of nonreinforced responses i.e. food is given every 10th time a rat presses a lever Variableratio schedule: The reinforcer is given after a variable number of nonreinforced responses around a set average i.e. food is given roughly every tenth time a rat presses a lever, though it may occur on the 8th or the 12th Fixedinterval schedule: The reinforcer is given for the first response that occurs after a specific time interval has passed i.e. food is given when a rat presses a lever ten minutes after the last press Variableinterval schedule: The reinforcer is given for the first response after a variable time interval has passed, varying around a set average i.e. food is given when a rat presses a lever roughly ten minutes after the last press Ratio schedules tend to produce more rapid responding, because faster rates lead to sooner reinforcement, and variable schedules generate steadier response rate and greater resistance to extinction gambling, which is reinforced by a variableratio schedule, produces rapid and steady responding Negative reinforcement

6 PSYC 1001 Page 6 Negative reinforcement Positive reinforcement: Occurs when a response is strengthened because it is followed by the presentation of a rewarding stimulus Negative reinforcement: When a response is strengthened because it is followed by the removal of an aversive stimulus note that it is still reinforcement, as the response rate is strengthened For example, positive reinforcement rewards a rat with food when it presses a lever negative reinforcement is turning off an electrical shock when the rat presses a lever Escape learning: When an organism acquires a response that decreases or ends some aversive stimulus Avoidance learning: When an organism acquires a response that prevents an aversive stimulus from occurring For example, initially a rat will run to another compartment of a Skinner box only when a light comes on and it is shocked eventually, it will start running to the other compartment as soon as it notices a light coming on Initially, avoidance learning is reflexive, conditioned fear fleeing to the other part of the box is operant behaviour caused by negative reinforcement Phobias are a good example of avoidance learning they're never given the opportunity to extinguish because you're never exposed to the conditioned stimulus Punishment Punishment: When an event following a response weakens the tendency to make that response punishment typically involves presenting an aversive stimulus or removal rewarding stimuli Positive punishment: Application of aversive consequences Negative punishment: Removal of a reward

7 PSYC 1001 Page 7 This produces the opposite effect of negative reinforcement negative reinforcement is removing an aversive stimulus (not nagging your kid after he takes out the garbage strengthening the response) while punishment is adding an aversive stimulus (taking away your kid's cell phone if he doesn't take out the garbage weakening the response) Primary punisher: Something inherently punishing such as an electric shock, spanking, yelling Secondary punisher: A stimulus with punishing properties through association with a primary punisher Effectively giving punishments involves several steps: Apply punishment swiftly A delay undermines its impact Use punishment just severe enough to be effective Severe punishments are more effective in weakening the response, but they also increase the likelihood of negative side effects Make punishment consistent Punish the response every time Explain the punishment Explain the reason for punishment as fully as possible if they understand why they were punished, the punishment will be more effective Use noncorporal punishment Noncorporal punishments are a more prudent means to achieve disciplinary goals, as they have less likelihood for negative side effects

8 PSYC 1001 Page 8 disciplinary goals, as they have less likelihood for negative side effects Changing Directions in the Study of Conditioning (p. 261) Biological effects on conditioning There are limits to the generality of conditioning imposed by biology some are easier to learn, while others are nearly impossible Instinctive drift: When an animal's innate response tendencies interfere with the conditioning process for instance, giving food to raccoons when they picked up coins led them to obsessively rub the coins together as though washing food Conditioned taste aversion: Many people develop aversions to food that is followed by nausea normally, delays of more than 30 seconds makes association difficult, yet nausea experienced hours later can result in conditioning When followed by other types of noxious stimuli, taste aversions are not developed it only happens with nausea This seems to be an evolutionary trait to teach us what not to eat Preparedness: A speciesspecific predisposition to be conditioned in certain ways, and not others for example, most common phobias (snakes, spiders, heights) were once threats to survival Taste aversion learning is not that unique it's just an ecologically relevant conditioned stimulus, which gives much greater effects than the traditionally arbitrary, neutral stimuli In the real world, conditioned stimuli have natural relationships to the unconditioned stimuli they predict a heavy focus on arbitrary cues may have created a skewed view of conditioning Cognitive effects on conditioning Signal relations: The relationship between a conditioned stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus namely, whether the conditioned stimulus allows accurate prediction of the unconditioned stimulus Predictive value: The likelihood an unconditioned stimulus will follow a conditioned stimulus for example, if a shock is only sent half the time after a tone is played, then its predictive value is 50% Responseoutcome relations: The logical relationship between a stimulus and response reinforcement is not automatic, rather it happens when it seems that the response caused the stimulus Organisms actively try to figure out the contingencies (what leads to what) in the world around them good signals are used to minimize aversive experiences and maximize pleasant experiences Observational Learning (p. 265) Observational learning: Occurs when an organism's responding is influenced by the observation of others, called models Both classical and operant conditioning can occur through observational learning essentially, observational learning is being conditioned indirectly by observing another's conditioning Basic process Attention: You must pay attention to another person's behaviour and its consequences Retention: You have to store the observed response in your mind, so that you can replicate it in the future Reproduction: You enact the modelled response by converting your stored mental images into overt behaviour Motivation: You have to encounter a situation where you believe the response you observed will pay off

9 PSYC 1001 Page 9 behaviour Motivation: You have to encounter a situation where you believe the response you observed will pay off for you Acquisition vs performance Reinforcements affect which response are performed, rather than those which are acquired people emit the responses they think will be reinforced, but acquire many that they never end up performing Mirror neurons: Neurons that are activated by performing an action or by seeing another perform the same action located in the frontal lobe and parietal lobe in humans

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