Psychology_and_your_Life_Ch05
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Psychology_and_your_Life_Ch05

Course Number: PSY 201, Spring 2010

College/University: University of the East,...

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5 learning 160 chapter chapter outline A Four-Legged Co-Worker Declan lies on his back wanting his belly scratched. The eight-year-old black Labrador cross swings his legs in the air for a few minutes before resigning himself to chewing on someone’s shoe. In the office he behaves like any pet dog, but in the field he is like a tornado—focused on finding illegal drugs being smuggled. Declan is a drug-detector...

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outline A 5 learning 160 chapter chapter Four-Legged Co-Worker Declan lies on his back wanting his belly scratched. The eight-year-old black Labrador cross swings his legs in the air for a few minutes before resigning himself to chewing on someone’s shoe. In the office he behaves like any pet dog, but in the field he is like a tornado—focused on finding illegal drugs being smuggled. Declan is a drug-detector dog for the Customs Service and has been busting drug smugglers with his handler, Kevin Hattrill, for eight years. Airport passengers look on with curiosity as Declan darts around people and their luggage. Within minutes he sniffs out a person of interest, who is taken away and questioned by airport authorities. Dogs like Declan are trained to detect illegal drugs, such as cannabis, methamphetamine, and cocaine, or explosives. Hattrill said the dogs were dual responsetrained when they detected something. “If the odor is around a passenger, they are trained to sit beside them. If it’s around cargo, they are trained to scratch. When they detect something, their whole temperament will change. “The dogs can screen up to 300 people within 10 to 15 minutes at the airport. Nothing else can do that.” (McKenzie-McLean, 2006, p. 7) module 15 Classical Conditioning The Basics of Classical Conditioning Applying Conditioning Principles to Human Behavior Extinction Generalization and Discrimination module 16 Operant Conditioning The Basics of Operant Conditioning Positive Reinforcers, Negative Reinforcers, and Punishment The Pros and Cons of Punishment: Why Reinforcement Beats Punishment Schedules of Reinforcement: Timing Life’s Rewards Shaping: Reinforcing What Doesn’t Come Naturally Becoming an Informed Consumer of Psychology: Using Behavior Analysis and Behavior Modification module 17 Cognitive Approaches to Learning Latent Learning Observational Learning: Learning Through Imitation Violence in Television and Video Games: Does the Media’s Message Matter? Exploring Diversity: Does Culture Influence How We Learn? Psychology on the Web The Case of . . . The Manager Who Doubled Productivity Full Circle: Learning Declan’s expertise did not just happen, of course. It is the result of painstaking training procedures—the same ones that are at work in each of our lives, illustrated by our ability to read a book, drive a car, play poker, study for a test, or perform any of the numerous activities that make up our daily routine. Like Declan, each of us must acquire and then refine our skills and abilities through learning. Learning is a fundamental topic for psychologists and plays a central role in almost every specialty area of psychology. For example, a developmental psychologist might inquire, “How do babies learn to distinguish their mothers from other people?” whereas a clinical psychologist might wonder, “Why do some people learn to be afraid when they see a spider?” Psychologists have approached the study of learning from several angles. Among the most fundamental are studies of the type of learning that is illustrated in responses ranging from a dog salivating when it hears its owner opening a can of dog food to the emotions we feel when our national anthem is played. Other theories consider how learning is a consequence of rewarding circumstances. Finally, several other approaches focus on the cognitive aspects of learning, or the thought processes that underlie learning. 161 looking a he ad module 15 Classical Conditioning Does the mere sight of the golden arches in front of McDonald’s make you feel pangs of hunger and think about hamburgers? If it classical conditioning and how does, you are displaying an elementary form of learning called clasthey relate to learning. sical conditioning. Classical conditioning helps explain such diverse phenomena as crying at the sight of a bride walking down the aisle, 15.2 Give examples of applying fearing the dark, and falling in love. conditioning principles to Classical conditioning is one of a number of different types of human behavior. learning that psychologists have identified, but a general definition encompasses them all: learning is a relatively permanent change in 15.3 Explain extinction. behavior that is brought about by experience. We are primed for learning from the beginning of life. Infants 15.4 Discuss stimulus exhibit a primitive type of learning called habituation. Habituation generalization and is the decrease in response to a stimulus that occurs after repeated discrimination. presentations of the same stimulus. For example, young infants may initially show interest in a novel stimulus, such as a brightly colored toy, but they will soon lose interest if they see the same toy over and Learning Learning A relatively permanent over. (Adults exhibit habituation, too: newlyweds soon stop noticing that change in behavior brought about by experience. they are wearing a wedding ring.) Habituation permits us to ignore things that have stopped providing new information. Most learning is considerably more complex than habituation, and the study of learning has been at the core of the field of psychology. Although philosophers since the time of Aristotle have speculated on the foundations of learning, the first systematic research on learning was done at the beginning of the twentieth century, when Ivan Pavlov (does the name ring a bell?) developed the framework for learning called classical conditioning. learning outcomes 15.1 Describe the basics of LO 1 The Basics of Classical Conditioning In the early twentieth century, Ivan Pavlov, a famous Russian physiologist, had been studying the secretion of stomach acids and salivation in dogs in response to the ingestion of varying amounts and kinds of food. While doing that he observed a curious phenomenon: sometimes stomach secretions and salivation would begin in the dogs when they had not yet eaten any food. The mere sight of the experimenter who normally brought the food, or even the sound of the experimenter’s footsteps, was enough to produce salivation in the dogs. 162 Chapter 5 learning Ivan Pavlov (center) developed the principles of classical conditioning. Pavlov’s genius lay in his ability to recognize the implications of this discovery. He saw that the dogs were responding not only on the basis of a biological need (hunger), but also as a result of learning—or, as it came to be called, classical conditioning. Classical conditioning is a type of learning in which a neutral stimulus (such as the experimenter’s footsteps) comes to elicit a response after being paired with a stimulus (such as food) that naturally brings about that response. To demonstrate classical conditioning, Pavlov (1927) attached a tube to the salivary gland of a dog, allowing allow him to measure precisely Classical Classical conditioning A t ype of learning in which a neutral stimulus the dog’s salivation. He then rang a bell and, just a few seconds later, precomes to bring about a response sented the dog with meat. This pairing occurred repeatedly and was careafter it is paired with a stimulus that fully planned so that, each time, exactly the same amount of time elapsed naturally brings about that response. between the presentation of the bell and the meat. At first the dog would Neutral stimulus A stimulus that, salivate only when the meat was presented, but soon it began to salivate before conditioning, does not naturally at the sound of the bell. In fact, even when Pavlov stopped presenting the bring about the response of interest. meat, the dog still salivated after hearing the sound. The dog had been Unconditioned stimulus (UCS) classically conditioned to salivate to the bell. A stimulus that naturally brings about a particular response without having As you can see in Figure 1, the basic processes of classical conditioning been learned. that underlie Pavlov’s discovery are straightforward, although the termiUnconditioned response (UCR) nology he chose is not simple. Consider first the diagram in Figure 1A. A response that is natural and needs Before conditioning, there are two unrelated stimuli: the ringing of a bell no training (e.g., salivation at the and meat. We know that normally the ringing of a bell does not lead to smell of food). salivation but to some irrelevant response, such as pricking up the ears or perhaps a startle reaction. The bell is therefore called the neutral stimulus because it is a stimulus that, before conditioning, does not naturally bring about the response in which we are interested. We also have meat, which naturally causes a dog to salivate—the response we are interested in conditioning. The meat is considered an unconditioned stimulus, or UCS, because food placed in a dog’s mouth automatically causes salivation to occur. The response that the meat elicits (salivation) is called an unconditioned response, or UCR—a natural, innate, reflexive response that is not associated with previous learning. Unconditioned responses are always brought about by the presence of unconditioned stimuli. Figure 1 (on the next page) Figure 1B illustrates what happens during conditioning. The bell is rung can help you learn and just before each presentation of the meat. The goal of conditioning is for understand the process (and the dog to associate the bell with the unconditioned stimulus (meat) and terminology) of classical therefore to bring about the same sort of response as the unconditioned conditioning, which can be stimulus. After a number of pairings of the bell and meat, the bell alone confusing. causes the dog to salivate. Module 15 classical conditioning 163 s tudy aler t A Before Conditioning Response unrelated to meat Pricking of ears Neutral stimulus Sound of bell Unconditioned stimulus (UCS) Unconditioned response (UCR) Salivation Meat B During Conditioning Unconditioned response (UCR) Neutral stimulus Sound of bell Salivation Unconditioned stimulus (UCS) Meat C After Conditioning Conditioned response (CR) Salivation Conditioned stimulus (CS) Sound of bell Figure 1 The basic process of classical conditioning. (A) Before conditioning, the ringing of a bell does not bring about salivation—making the bell a neutral stimulus. In contrast, meat naturally brings about salivation, making the meat an unconditioned stimulus and salivation an unconditioned response. (B) During conditioning, the bell is rung just before the presentation of the meat. (C) Eventually, the ringing of the bell alone brings about salivation. We now can say that conditioning has been accomplished: the previously neutral stimulus of the bell now is a conditioned stimulus that brings about the conditioned response of salivation. When conditioning is complete, the bell has evolved from a neutral stimulus to what is now called a conditioned stimulus, or CS. At this time, salivation that occurs as a response to the conditioned stimulus (bell) is considered a conditioned response, or CR. This situation is depicted in Figure 1C. After conditioning, then, the conditioned stimulus evokes the conditioned response. The sequence and timing of the presentation of the unconditioned stimulus and the conditioned stimulus are particularly important. Like a malfunctioning warning light at a railroad crossing that goes on after the train has passed by, a neutral stimulus that follows an unconditioned stimulus has little chance of becoming a conditioned stimulus. However, just as a warning light works best if it goes on right before a train passes, a neutral stimulus that is presented just before t he unconditioned stimulus is most apt to result in successful conditioning (Bitterman, 2006). Although the terminology Pavlov used to describe classical conditioning may seem confusing, the following summary can help make the relationships between stimuli and responses easier to understand and remember: ■ Conditioned learned. ■ Unconditioned not learned. ■ An unconditioned stimulus leads to an unconditioned response. ■ Unconditioned stimulus–unconditioned response pairings are unlearned and untrained. ■ During conditioning, a previously neutral stimulus is transformed into the conditioned stimulus. ■ A conditioned stimulus leads to a conditioned response, and a conditioned stimulus–conditioned response pairing is a consequence of learning and training. ■ A n unconditioned response and a conditioned response are similar (such as salivation in Pavlov’s experiment), but the unconditioned response occurs naturally, whereas the conditioned response is learned. 164 Chapter 5 learning LO LO 2 Applying Conditioning Principles to Human Behavior Although the initial conditioning experiments were carried out with animals, classical conditioning principles were soon found to explain many Conditioned response (CR) aspects of everyday human behavior. Recall, for instance, the earlier illusA response that, after conditioning, tration of how people may experience hunger pangs at the sight of McDon- follows a previously neutral stimulus ald’s golden arches. The cause of this reaction is classical conditioning: the (e.g., salivation at the ringing of a bell). previously neutral arches have become associated with the food inside the Extinction A basic phenomenon of restaurant (the unconditioned stimulus), causing the arches to become a learning that occurs when a previously conditioned response decreases in conditioned stimulus that brings about the conditioned response of hunger. frequency and eventually disappears. Emotional responses are especially likely to be learned through classical conditioning processes. For instance, how do some of us develop fears of mice, spiders, and other creatures that are typically harmless? In a now infamous case study, psychologist John B. Watson and colleague Rosalie Rayner (1920) showed that classical conditioning was at the root of such fears by conditioning an 11-month-old infant named Albert to be afraid of rats. “Little Albert,” like most infants, initially was frightened by loud noises but had no fear of rats. In the study, the experimenters sounded a loud noise just as they showed Little Albert a rat. The Emotional responses are especially noise (the unconditioned stimulus) evoked fear (the unconditioned response). However, after just a few likely to be learned through classical pairings of noise and rat, Albert began to show fear conditioning processes. of the rat by itself, bursting into tears when he saw it. The rat, then, had become a CS that brought about the CR, fear. Furthermore, the effects of the conditioning lingered: five days later, Albert reacted with fear not only when shown a rat, but when shown objects that looked similar to the white, furry rat, including a white rabbit, a white sealskin coat, and even a white Santa Claus mask. (By the way, we don’t know what happened to the unfortunate Little Albert. Watson, the experimenter, has been condemned for using ethically questionable procedures that could never be conducted today.) Learning by means of classical conditioning also occurs during adulthood. For example, you may not go to a dentist as often as you should because of prior associations of dentists with pain. On the other hand, classical conditioning also accounts for pleasant experiences. For instance, you may have a particular fondness for the smell of a certain perfume or aftershave lotion because the feelings and thoughts of an early love come rushing back whenever you encounter it. Classical conditioning, then, explains many of the reactions we have to stimuli in the world around us. Conditioned stimulus (CS) A onceneutral stimulus that has been paired with an unconditioned stimulus to bring about a response formerly caused only by the unconditioned stimulus. LO 3 Extinction What do you think would happen if a dog that had become classically conditioned to salivate at the ringing of a bell never again received food when the bell was rung? The answer lies in one of the basic phenomena of learning: extinction. Extinction occurs when a previously conditioned response decreases in frequency and eventually disappears. To produce extinction, one needs to end the association between conditioned stimuli and unconditioned stimuli. For instance, if we had trained a dog to salivate (the conditioned response) at the ringing of a bell (the conditioned Module 15 classical conditioning 165 Acquisition (conditioned response and unconditioned response presented together) Strong Strength of conditioned response (CR) Extinction (conditioned stimulus by itself ) Spontaneous recovery of conditioned response Extinction follows (conditioned stimulus alone) Weak Training A CS alone B Time Pause C Spontaneous recovery D Figure 2 Acquisition, extinction, and spontaneous recovery of a classically conditioned response. A conditioned response (CR) gradually increases in strength during training (A). However, if the conditioned stimulus is presented by itself enough times, the conditioned response gradually fades, and extinction occurs (B). After a pause (C) in which the conditioned stimulus is not presented, spontaneous recovery can occur (D). However, extinction typically reoccurs soon after. Spontaneous recovery The stimulus), we could produce extinction by repeatedly ringing the bell but not providing meat. At first the dog would continue to salivate when it heard the reemergence of an extinguished bell, but after a few such instances, the amount of salivation would probably conditioned response after a period of rest and with no further conditioning. decline, and the dog would eventually stop responding to the bell altogether. At that point, we could say that the response had been extinguished. In sum, extinction occurs when the conditioned stimulus is presented repeatedly without the unconditioned stimulus (see Figure 2). Once a conditioned response has been extinguished, has it vanished forever? Not necessarOnce a conditioned response has been ily. Pavlov discovered this phenomenon when he extinguished, has it vanished forever? returned to his dog a few days after the conditioned behavior had seemingly been extinguished. If he Not necessarily. rang a bell, the dog once again salivated—an effect known as spontaneous recovery, or the reemergence of an extinguished conditioned response after a period of rest and with no further conditioning. Spontaneous recovery helps explain why it is so hard to overcome drug addictions. For example, cocaine addicts who are thought to be “cured” can experience an irresistible impulse to use the drug again if they are subsequently confronted by a stimulus with strong connections to the drug, such as a white powder (DiCano & Everitt, 2002; Rodd et al., 2004; Plowright, Simonds, & Butler, 2006). From the perspective of . . . A Veterinary Assistant be useful in your career? Chapter 5 How might knowledge of classical conditioning 166 learning LO 4 Generalization and Discrimination s tudy aler t Remember that stimulus generalization relates to stimuli that are similar to one another, while stimulus discrimination relates to stimuli that are different from one another. Despite differences in color and shape, to most of us a rose is a rose is a rose. The pleasure we experience at the beauty, smell, and grace of the flower is similar for different types of roses. Pavlov noticed a similar phenomenon. His dogs often salivated not only at the ringing of the bell that was used during their original conditioning but at the sound of a buzzer as well. Such behavior is the result of stimulus generalization. Stimulus generalization occurs when a conditioned response follows a stimulus that is The greater the similarity between similar to the original conditioned stimulus. The two stimuli, the greater the likelihood greater the similarity between two stimuli, the greater the likelihood of stimulus generalization. of stimulus generalization. Little Albert, who, as we mentioned earlier, was conditioned to be fearful of white rats, grew afraid of other furry white things as well. However, according to the principle of stimulus generalization, it is unlikely that he would have been afraid of a Stimulus generalization Occurs when a conditioned response follows a black dog, because its color would have differentiated it sufficiently from the stimulus that is similar to the original original fear-evoking stimulus. conditioned stimulus; the more similar On the other hand, stimulus discrimination occurs if two stimuli are the two stimuli are, the more likely sufficiently distinct from each other that one evokes a conditioned response generalization is to occur. but the other does not. Stimulus discrimination provides the ability to difStimulus discrimination The ferentiate between stimuli. For example, my dog, Cleo, comes running into process that occurs if two stimuli the kitchen when she hears the sound of the electric can opener, which she are sufficiently distinct from each has learned is used to open her dog food when her dinner is about to be other that one evokes a conditioned response but the other does not; the served. She does not bound into the kitchen at the sound of the food procesability to differentiate between stimuli. sor, although it sounds similar. In other words, she discriminates between the stimuli of can opener and food processor. Similarly, our ability to discriminate between the behavior of a growling dog and that of one whose tail is wagging can lead to adaptive behavior—avoiding the growling dog and petting the friendly one. Because of a previous unpleasant experience, a person may expect a similar occurrence when faced with a comparable situation in the future, a process known as stimulus generalization. Can you think of ways this process is used in everyday life? Module 15 classical conditioning 167 recap Describe the basics of classical conditioning and how they relate to learning. ■ One major form of learning is classical conditioning, which occurs when a neutral stimulus—one that normally brings about no relevant response—is repeatedly paired with a stimulus (called an unconditioned stimulus) that brings about a natural, untrained response. (p. 163) ■ After repeated pairings, the neutral stimulus elicits the same response that the unconditioned stimulus brings about. When this occurs, the neutral stimulus has become a conditioned stimulus, and the response a conditioned response. (p. 164) Explain extinction. ■ Learning is not always permanent. Extinction occurs when a previously learned response decreases in frequency and eventually disappears. (p. 166) Discuss stimulus generalization and discrimination. ■ Stimulus generalization is the tendency for a conditioned response to follow a stimulus that is similar to, but not the same as, the original conditioned stimulus. The converse phenomenon, stimulus discrimination, occurs when an organism learns to distinguish between stimuli. (p. 167) Give examples of applying conditioning principles to human behavior. ■ Examples of classical conditioning include the development of emotions and fears. (p. 165) evaluate 1. 2. involves changes brought about by experience. is the name of the scientist responsible for discovering the learning phenomenon known as conditioning, in which an organism learns a response to a stimulus to which it normally would not respond. Refer to the passage below to answer questions 3 through 5: The last three times little Theresa visited Dr. Lopez for checkups, he administered a painful preventive immunization shot that left her in tears. Today, when her mother takes her for another checkup, Theresa begins to sob as soon as she comes face-to-face with Dr. Lopez, even before he has a chance to say hello. that 3. The painful shot that Theresa received during each visit was a(n) , her tears. elicited the 4 . Dr. Lopez is upset because his presence has become a for Theresa’s crying. 5. Fortunately, Dr. Lopez gave Theresa no more shots for quite some time. Over that period she gradually stopped crying and even came to like him. had occurred. 168 Chapter 5 learning rethink How likely is it that Little Albert, Watson’s experimental subject, went through life afraid of Santa Claus? Describe what could have happened to prevent his continual dread of Santa. Answers to Evaluate Questions 1. learning; 2. Pavlov, classical; 3. unconditioned stimulus, unconditioned response; 4. conditioned stimulus; 5. extinction key terms Learning p. 162 Classical conditioning p. 163 Neutral stimulus p. 163 Unconditioned stimulus (UCS) p. 163 Unconditioned response (UCR) p. 163 Conditioned stimulus (CS) p. 165 Conditioned response (CR) p. 165 Extinction p. 165 Spontaneous recovery p. 166 Stimulus generalization p. 167 Stimulus discrimination p. 167 Module 15 classical conditioning 169 module 16 Operant Conditioning learning outcomes 16.1 Define the basics of operant conditioning. 16.2 Explain reinforcers and punishment. Very good . . . What a clever idea . . . Fantastic . . . I agree . . . Thank you . . . Excellent . . . Super . . . Right on . . . This is the best paper you’ve ever written; you get an A . . . You are really getting the hang of it . . . I’m impressed . . . You’re getting a raise . . . Have a cookie . . . You look great . . . I love you . . . Few of us mind being the recipient of any of the preceding comments. But what is especially noteworthy about them is that each of these 16.3 Present the pros simple statements can be used, through a process known as operant and cons of punishment. conditioning, to bring about powerful changes in behavior and to teach the most complex tasks. Operant conditioning is the basis for 16.4 Discuss schedules many of the most important kinds of human, and animal, learning. of reinforcement. Operant conditioning is learning in which a voluntary response 16.5 Explain the concept is strengthened or weakened, depending on its favorable or unfavorable consequences. When we say that a response has been strengthof shaping. ened or weakened, we mean that it has been made more or less likely to recur regularly. Unlike classical conditioning, in which the original behaviors are the natOperant Operant conditioning Learning ural, biological responses to the presence of a stimulus such as food, water, in which a voluntary response is or pain, operant conditioning applies to voluntary responses, which an strengthened or weakened, depending on its favorable or unfavorable organism performs deliberately to produce a desirable outcome. The term consequences. operant emphasizes this point: the organism operates on its environment to produce a desirable result. Operant conditioning is at work when we learn that toiling industriously can bring about a raise or that exercising hard results in a good physique. LO 1 The Basics of Operant Conditioning The inspiration for a whole generation of psychologists studying operant conditioning was one of the twentieth century’s most influential psychologists, B. F. Skinner (1904–1990). Skinner was interested in specifying how behavior varies as a result of alterations in the environment. Skinner conducted his research using an apparatus called the Skinner box (shown in Figure 1), a chamber with a highly controlled environment that was used to study operant conditioning processes with laboratory animals. Let’s consider what happens to a rat in the typical Skinner box (Pascual & Rodríguez, 2006). 170 Chapter 5 learning Suppose you want to teach a hungry rat to press a lever that is in its box. At first the rat will wander around the box, exploring the environment in a relatively random fashion. At some point, however, it will probably press the lever by chance, and when it does, it will receive a food pellet. The first time this happens, the rat will not learn the connection between pressing a lever and receiving food and will continue to explore the box. Sooner or later the rat will press the lever again and receive a pellet, and in time the frequency of the pressing response will increase. Eventually, the rat will press the lever continually until it satisfies its hunger, thereby demonstrating that it has learned that the receipt of food is contingent on pressing the lever. Food dispenser Response lever Reinforcement: The Central Concept of Operant Conditioning Figure 1 B. F. Skinner with a Skinner box used to study operant conditioning. Laboratory rats learn to press the lever in order to obtain food, which is delivered in the tray. Skinner called the process that leads the rat to continue pressing the key “reinforcement.” Reinforcement is the process by which a stimulus increases the probability that a preceding behavior will Reinforcement Reinforcement The process by which be repeated. In other words, pressing the lever is more likely to occur again a stimulus increases the probability because of the stimulus of food. that a preceding behavior will be In a situation such as this one, the food is called a reinforcer. A reinforcer repeated. is any stimulus that increases the probability that a preceding behavior will Reinforcer Any stimulus that increases the probability that a occur again. Hence, food is a reinforcer because it increases the probability that the behavior of pressing (formally referred to as the response of press- preceding behavior will occur again. ing) will take place. What kind of stimuli can act as reinforcers? Bonuses, toys, and good grades can serve as reinforcers—if they strengthen the probability of the response that occurred before their introduction. There are two major types of reinforcers. A primary Bonuses, toys, and good grades reinforcer satisfies some biological need and works naturally, regardless of a person’s prior experience. can serve as reinforcers—if they Food for a hungry person, warmth for a cold person, and relief for a person in pain all would be classified strengthen the probability of the as primary reinforcers. A secondary reinforcer, in con- response that occurred before their trast, is a stimulus that becomes reinforcing because of its association with a primary reinforcer. For introduction. instance, we know that money is valuable because we have learned that it allows us to obtain other desirable objects, including primary reinforcers such as food and shelter. Money thus becomes a secondary reinforcer. LO 2 Positive Reinforcers, Negative Reinforcers, and Punishment s tudy aler t Remember that primary reinforcers satisfy a biological need; secondary reinforcers are effective due to previous association with a primary reinforcer. In many respects, reinforcers can be thought of in terms of rewards; both a reinforcer and a reward increase the probability that a preceding response will occur again. But the term reward is limited to positive occurrences, and this is where it differs from a reinforcer—for it turns out that reinforcers can be positive or negative. Module 16 operant conditioning 171 A positive reinforcer is a stimulus added to the environment that brings about an increase in a preceding response. If food, water, money, or praise is provided after a response, it is more likely that that response will occur again in the future. The paychecks that workers get at the end of the week, for example, increase the likelihood that they will return to their jobs the following week. In contrast, a negative reinforcer refers to an unpleasant stimulus whose removal leads to an increase in the probability that a preceding response will Positive Positive reinforcer A stimulus added be repeated in the future. For example, if you have an itchy rash (an unpleasto the environment that brings about an increase in a preceding response. ant stimulus) that is relieved when you apply a certain brand of ointment, you are more likely to use that ointment the next time you have an itchy Negative reinforcer An unpleasant stimulus whose removal leads to rash. Using the ointment, then, is negatively reinforcing, because it removes an increase in the probability that a the unpleasant itch. Negative reinforcement, then, teaches the individual preceding response will be repeated that taking an action removes a negative condition that exists in the enviin the future. ronment. Like positive reinforcers, negative reinforcers increase the likeliPunishment A stimulus that hood that preceding behaviors will be repeated. decreases the probability that a Note that negative reinforcement is not the same as punishment. previous behavior will occur again. Punishment refers to a stimulus that decreases the probability that a prior behavior will occur again. Unlike negative reinforcement, which produces an increase in behavior, punishment reduces the likelihood of a prior response. If we receive a shock that is meant to decrease a certain behavior, then, we are receiving punishment, but if we are already receiving a shock and do something to stop that shock, the behavior that stops the shock is considered to be negatively reinforced. In the first case, the specific behavior is apt to decrease because of the punishment; in the second, it is likely to increase because of the negative reinforcement. There are two types of punishment: positive punishment and negative punishment, just as there are positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. (In both cases, “positive” means adding something, and “negative” means removing something.) Positive punishment weakens a response through the application of an unpleasant stimulus. For instance, spanking a child for misbehaving, or spending 10 years in jail for committing a crime, is positive punishment. In contrast, negative punishment consists of the removal of something pleasant. For instance, when a teenager is told she is “grounded” and will no longer be able to use the family car because of her poor grades, or when an employee is informed that he has been demoted with a cut in pay because of a poor job evaluation, negative punishment is being administered. Both positive and negative punishment result in a decrease in the likelihood that a prior behavior will be repeated. The following rules (and the summary in Figure 2) can help you distinguish these concepts from one another: ■ Reinforcement increases the frequency of the behavior preceding it; punishment decreases the frequency of the behavior preceding it. ■ The application of a positive stimulus brings about an increase in the frequency of behavior and is referred to as positive From the perspective of . . . A Retail Supervisor How might you use the principles of operant conditioning to change employee behavior involving tardiness, customer service, or store cleanliness? 172 Chapter 5 learning Intended Result When Stimulus Is Added, the Result Is . . . Positive Reinforcement When Stimulus Is Removed or Terminated, the Result Is . . . Negative Reinforcement Example: Applying ointment to relieve an itchy rash leads to a higher future likelihood of applying the ointment Result: Increase in response of using ointment Increase in behavior (reinforcement) Example: Giving a raise for good performance Result: Increase in response of good performance Positive Punishment Decrease in behavior (punishment) Example: Yelling at a teenager when she steals a bracelet Result: Decrease in frequency of response of stealing Negative Punishment Example: Teenager’s access to car restricted by parents due to teenager’s breaking curfew Result: Decrease in response of breaking curfew Figure 2 Types of reinforcement and punishment. reinforcement; the application of a negative stimulus decreases or reduces the frequency of behavior and is called punishment. ■ The removal of a negative stimulus that results in an increase in the frequency of behavior is negative reinforcement; the removal of a positive stimulus that decreases the frequency of behavior is negative punishment. s tudy aler t The differences between positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment are tricky, so pay special attention to Figure 2 and the rules in the text. LO LO 3 The Pros and Cons of Punishment: Why Reinforcement Beats Punishment Is punishment an effective way to modify behavior? Punishment often presents the quickest route to changing behavior that, if allowed to continue, might be dangerous to an individual. For instance, a parent may not have a second chance to warn a child not to run into a busy street, and so punishing the first incidence of this behavior may prove to be wise. Moreover, the use of punishment to suppress Punishment has several behavior, even temporarily, provides an opportunity to reinforce a person for subsequently behavdisadvantages that make ing in a more desirable way. Punishment has several disadvantages that its routine use questionable. make its routine use questionable. For one thing, punishment is frequently ineffective, particularly if it is not delivered shortly after the undesired behavior or if the individual is able to leave the setting in which the punishment is being given. An Module 16 operant conditioning 173 employee who is reprimanded by the boss may quit; a teenager who loses the use of the family car may borrow a friend’s car instead. In such instances, the initial behavior that is being punished may be replaced by one that is even less desirable. Even worse, physical punishment can convey to the recipient the idea that physical aggression is permissible and perhaps even desirable. A father who yells at and hits his son for misbehaving teaches the son that aggression is an appropriate, adult response. The son soon may copy his father’s behavior by acting aggressively toward others. In addition, physical punishment is often administered by people who are themselves angry or enraged. It is unlikely that individuals in such an emotional state will be able to think through what they are doing or control carefully the degree of punishment they are inflicting (Baumrind, Larzelere, & Cowan, 2002; Sorbring, Deater-Deckard, & Palmerus, 2006). In short, the research findings are clear: reinforcing desired behavior is a more appropriate technique for modifying behavior than using punishment (Hiby, Rooney, & Bradshaw, 2004; Sidman, 2006). LO LO 4 Schedules of Reinforcement: Timing Life’s Rewards © The New Yorker Collection, 2001 C. Weyant from cartoonbank.com. All rights reserved. The world would be a different place if poker players never played cards again after the first losing hand, fishermen returned to shore as soon as they missed a catch, or telemarketers never made another phone call after their first hangup. The fact that such unreinforced behaviors continue, often with great freSchedules of reinforcement quency and persistence, illustrates that reinforcement need not be received Different patterns of frequency and continually for behavior to be learned and maintained. In fact, behavior that timing of reinforcement following is reinforced only occasionally can ultimately be learned better than can desired behavior. behavior that is always reinforced. Continuous reinforcement When we refer to the frequency and timing of reinforcement that folschedule Reinforcing of a behavior every time it occurs. lows desired behavior, we are talking about schedules of reinforcement. Partial (or intermittent) Behavior that is reinforced every time it occurs is said to be on a continuous reinforcement schedule Reinforcing reinforcement schedule; if it is reinforced some but not all of the time, it of a behavior some but not all of the is on a partial (or intermittent) reinforcement schedule. Although learntime. ing occurs more rapidly under a continuous reinforcement schedule, behavior lasts longer after reinforcement stops when it is learned under a partial reinforcement schedule (Staddon & Cerutti, 2003; Gottlieb, 2004; Casey, Cooper-Brown, & Wacher, 2006). Why should intermittent reinforcement result in stronger, longer-lasting learning than continuous reinforcement? We can answer the question by examining how we might behave when using a candy vending machine compared with a Las Vegas slot machine. When we use a vending machine, prior experience has taught us that every time we put in the appropriate amount of money, the reinforcement, a candy bar, ought to be delivered. In other words, the schedule of 174 Chapter 5 learning reinforcement is continuous. In comparison, a slot machine offers intermittent reinforcement. We have learned that after putting in our cash, most of the time we will not receive anything in return. At the same time, though, we know that we will occasionally win something. Now suppose that, unknown to us, both the candy vending machine and the slot machine are broken, and so neither one is able to dispense anything. It would not be very long before we stopped depositing coins into the broken candy machine. Probably at most we would try only two or three times before leaving the machine in disgust. But the story would be quite different with the broken slot machine. Here, we would drop in money for a considerably longer time, even though there would be no payoff. In formal terms, we can see the difference between the two reinforcement schedules: partial reinforcement schedules (such as those provided by slot Remember that the different machines) maintain performance longer than do continuous reinforcement schedules of reinforcement schedules (such as those established in candy vending machines) before affect the rapidity with extinction—the disappearance of the conditioned response—occurs. which a response is Certain kinds of partial reinforcement schedules produce stronger and learned and how long it lengthier responding before extinction than do others. Although many diflasts after reinforcement is ferent partial reinforcement schedules have been examined, they can most no longer provided. readily be put into two categories: schedules that consider the number of responses made before reinforcement is given, called fixed-ratio and variableratio schedules, and those that consider the amount of time that elapses before reinforcement is provided, called fixed-interval and variable-interval schedules (Svartdal, 2003; Pellegrini et al., 2004; Gottlieb, 2006). s tudy aler t Fixed- and Variable-Ratio Schedules In a fixed-ratio schedule, reinforcement is given only after a specific number Fixed-ratio Fixed-ratio schedule A schedule by of responses. For instance, a rat might receive a food pellet every 10th time which reinforcement is given only after it pressed a lever; here, the ratio would be 1:10. Similarly, garment workers a specific number of responses are are generally paid on fixed-ratio schedules: they receive a specific number made. of dollars for every blouse they sew. Because a greater rate of production Variable-ratio schedule A schedule means more reinforcement, people on fixed-ratio schedules are apt to work by which reinforcement occurs after a varying number of responses rather as quickly as possible (see Figure 3). than after a fixed number. In a variable-ratio schedule, reinforcement occurs after a varying number of responses rather than after a fixed number. Although the specific number of responses necessary to receive reinforcement varies, the number of responses usually hovers around a specific average. A good example of a variable-ratio schedule is a telephone salesperson’s job. She might make a sale during the third, eighth, ninth, and twentieth calls without being successful during any call in between. Although the number of responses that must be made before making a sale varies, it averages out to a 20 percent success rate. Under these circumstances, you might expect that the salesperson would try to make as many calls as possible in as short a time as possible. This is the case with all variable-ratio schedules, which lead to a high rate of response and resistance to extinction. Fixed- and Variable-Interval Schedules: The Passage of Time In contrast to fixed- and variable-ratio schedules, in which the crucial factor is the number of responses, fixed-interval and variable-interval schedules focus on the amount of time that has elapsed since a person or animal was rewarded. Module 16 operant conditioning 175 Fixed-Ratio Schedule Cumulative frequency of responses Cumulative frequency of responses Variable-Ratio Schedule There are short pauses after each response Time Responding occurs at a high, steady rate A B Time Fixed-Interval Schedule Cumulative frequency of responses Cumulative frequency of responses Variable-Interval Schedule There are typically long pauses after each response Responding occurs at a steady rate C Time D Time Figure 3 Typical outcomes of different reinforcement schedules. (A) In a fixedratio schedule, short pauses occur after each response. Because the more responses, the more reinforcement, fixed-ratio schedules produce a high rate of responding. (B) In a variable-ratio schedule, responding also occurs at a high rate. (C) A fixedinterval schedule produces lower rates of responding, especially just after reinforcement has been presented, because the organism learns that a specified time period must elapse between reinforcements. (D) A variable-interval schedule produces a fairly steady stream of responses. One example of a fixed-interval schedule is a weekly paycheck. For people who receive regular, weekly paychecks, it typically makes relatively little difference exactly how much they produce in a given week. Because a f ixed-interval schedule provides reinforcement for a response only if a fixed time period has elapsed, overall rates of response are relaFixed-interval Fixed-interval schedule A schedule tively low. This is especially true in the period just after reinforcement, that provides reinforcement for a response only if a fixed time period when the time before another reinforcement is relatively great. Students’ has elapsed, making overall rates of study habits often exemplify this reality. If the periods between exams are response relatively low. relatively long (meaning that the opportunity for reinforcement for good performance is given fairly infrequently), students often study minimally or not at all until the day of the exam draws near. Just before the exam, however, students begin to cram for it, signaling a rapid increase in the rate of their 176 Chapter response. 5 learning studying As you might expect, immediately after the exam there is a rapid decline in the rate of responding, with few people opening a book the day after a test. Fixed-interval schedules produce the kind of “scalloping effect” shown in Figure 3. One way to decrease the delay in responding that occurs just after reinforcement, and to maintain the desired behavior more consistently throughout an interval, is to use a variable-interval schedule. In a variable-interval schedule, the time between reinforcements varies around some average rather than being fixed. For example, a professor who gives surprise quizzes that vary from one every three days to one every three weeks, averaging one every two weeks, is using a variable-interval schedule. Compared to the study habits we observed with a fixed-interval schedule, students’ study habits under such a variable-interval schedule would most likely be very different. Students would be apt to study more regularly because they would never know when the next surprise quiz was coming. Variable-interval schedules, in general, are more likely to produce relatively steady rates of responding than are fixed-interval schedules, with responses that take longer to extinguish after reinforcement ends. psych 2.0 www.mhhe.com/psychlife Schedules of Reinforcement LO LO 5 Shaping: Reinforcing What Doesn’t Come Naturally Consider the difficulty of using operant conditioning to teach people to Variable-interval schedule repair an automobile transmission. If you had to wait until they chanced A schedule by which the time between reinforcements varies around some to fix a transmission perfectly before you provided them with reinforceaverage rather than being fixed. ment, the Model T Ford might be back in style long before they mastered Shaping The process of teaching a the repair process. complex behavior by rewarding closer There are many complex behaviors, ranging from auto repair to zoo and closer approximations of the management, that we would not expect to occur naturally as part of anydesired behavior. one’s spontaneous behavior. For such behaviors, for which there might otherwise be no opportunity to provide reinforcement (because the behavior would never occur in the first place), a procedure known as shaping is used. Shaping is the process of teaching a complex behavior by rewarding closer and closer approximations of the desired behavior. In shaping, you start by reinforcing any behavior that is at all similar to the behavior you want the person to learn. Later, you reinforce only responses that are closer to the behavior you ultimately want to teach. Finally, you reinforce only the desired response. Each step in shaping, then, moves only slightly beyond the previously learned behavior, permitting the person to link the new step to the behavior learned earlier. Shaping allows even lower animals to learn complex responses that would never occur naturally, ranging from lions jumping through hoops, dolphins rescuing divers lost at sea, or rodents finding hidden land mines. Comparing Classical and Operant Conditioning We’ve considered classical conditioning and operant conditioning as two completely different processes. And, as summarized in Figure 4, there are a number of key distinctions between the two forms of learning. For example, the key concept in classical conditioning is the association between stimuli, whereas in Module 16 operant conditioning 177 Concept Basic principle Classical Conditioning Building associations between a conditioned stimulus and conditioned response. Based on involuntary, natural, innate behavior. Behavior is elicited by the unconditioned or conditioned stimulus. Before conditioning, an unconditioned stimulus leads to an unconditioned response. After conditioning, a conditioned stimulus leads to a conditioned response. After a physician gives a child a series of painful injections (an unconditioned stimulus) that produce an emotional reaction (an unconditioned response), the child develops an emotional reaction (a conditioned response) whenever he sees the physician (the conditioned stimulus). Operant Conditioning Reinforcement increases the frequency of the behavior preceding it; punishment decreases the frequency of the behavior preceding it. Organism voluntarily operates on its environment to produce particular consequences. After behavior occurs, the likelihood of the behavior occurring again is increased or decreased by the behavior’s consequences. Reinforcement leads to an increase in behavior; punishment leads to a decrease in behavior. A student who, after studying hard for a test, earns an A (the positive reinforcer) is more likely to study hard in the future. A student who, after going out drinking the night before a test, fails the test (punishment) is less likely to go out drinking the night before the next test. Nature of behavior Order of events Example conditioning. Figure 4 Comparing key concepts in classical conditioning and operant operant conditioning it is reinforcement. Furthermore, classical conditioning involves an involuntary, natural, innate behavior, but operant conditioning is based on voluntary responses made by an organism. becoming an informed consumer of psychology Using Behavior Analysis and Behavior Modification A couple who had been living together for three years began to fight frequently. The issues of disagreement ranged from who was going to do the dishes to the quality of their love life. Disturbed, the couple went to a behavior analyst, a psychologist who specialized in behavior-modification techniques. He asked them to keep a detailed written record of their interactions over the next two weeks. When they returned with the data, he carefully reviewed the records with them. In doing so, he noticed a pattern: each of their arguments had occurred just after one or the other had left a household chore undone, such as leaving dirty dishes in the sink or draping clothes on the only chair in the bedroom. 178 Chapter 5 learning Using the data the couple had collected, the behavior analyst asked them to list all the chores that could possibly arise and assign each one a point value depending on how long it took to complete. Then he had them divide the chores equally and agree in a written contract to fulfill the ones assigned to them. If either failed to carry out one of the assigned chores, he or she would have to place $1 per point in a fund for the other to spend. They also agreed to a program of verbal praise, promising to reward each other verbally for completing a chore. The couple agreed to try it for a month and to keep careful records of the number of arguments they had during that period. To their surprise, the number declined rapidly. This case provides an illustration of behavior modification, a formalized Behavior Behavior modification A formalized technique for promoting the frequency of desirable behaviors and decreastechnique for promoting the frequency ing the incidence of unwanted ones. Using the basic principles of learning of desirable behaviors and decreasing theory, behavior-modification techniques have proved to be helpful in a the incidence of unwanted ones. variety of situations. People with severe mental retardation have, for the first time in their lives, started dressing and feeding themselves. Behavior modification has also helped people lose weight, give up smoking, and behave more safely (Wadden, Crerand, & Brock, 2005; Delinsky, Latner, & Wilson, 2006; Ntinas, 2007). The techniques used by behavior analysts are as varied as the list of processes that modify behavior. They include reinforcement scheduling, shaping, generalization training, discrimination training, and extinction. Participants in a behavior-change program do, however, typically follow a series of similar basic steps that include the following: ■ Identifying goals and target behaviors. The first step is to define desired behavior. Is it an increase in time spent studying? A decrease in weight? A reduction in the amount of aggression displayed by a child? The goals must be stated in observable terms and must lead to specific targets. For instance, a goal might be “to increase study time,” whereas the target behavior would be “to study at least two hours per day on weekdays and an hour on Saturdays.” ■ Designing a data-recording system and recording preliminary data. To determine whether behavior has changed, it is necessary to collect data before any changes are made in the situation. This information provides a baseline against which future changes can be measured. ■ Selecting a behavior-change strategy. The most crucial step is to select an appropriate strategy. Because all the principles of learning can be employed to bring about behavior change, a “package” of treatments is normally used. This might include the systematic use of positive reinforcement for desired behavior (verbal praise or something more tangible, such as food), as well as a program of extinction for undesirable behavior (ignoring a child who throws a tantrum). Selecting the right reinforcers is critical, and it may be necessary to experiment a bit to find out what is important to a particular individual. ■ Implementing the program. Probably the most important aspect of program implementation is consistency. It is also important to reinforce the intended behavior. For example, suppose a mother wants her daughter to spend more time on her homework, but as soon as the child sits down to study, she asks for a snack. If the mother gets a snack for her, she is likely to be reinforcing her daughter’s delaying tactic, not her studying. Module 16 operant conditioning 179 ■ Keeping careful records after the program is implemented. Another crucial task is record keeping. If the target behaviors are not monitored, there is no way of knowing whether the program has actually been successful. ■ Evaluating and altering the ongoing program. Finally, the results of the program should be compared with baseline, preimplementation data to determine its effectiveness. If the program has been successful, the procedures employed can be phased out gradually. For instance, if the program called for reinforcing every instance of picking up one’s clothes from the bedroom floor, the reinforcement schedule could be modified to a fixedratio schedule in which every third instance was reinforced. However, if the program has not been successful in bringing about the desired behavior change, consideration of other approaches might be advisable. Behavior-change techniques based on these general principles have enjoyed wide success and have proved to be one of the most powerful means of modifying behavior. Clearly, it is possible to employ the basic notions of learning theory to improve our lives. recap Define the basics of operant conditioning. ■ Operant conditioning is a form of learning in which a voluntary behavior is strengthened or weakened. According to B. F. Skinner, the major mechanism underlying learning is reinforcement, the process by which a stimulus increases the probability that a preceding behavior will be repeated. (p. 170) ■ Primary reinforcers are rewards that are naturally effective without prior experience because they satisfy a biological need. Secondary reinforcers begin to act as if they were primary reinforcers through association with a primary reinforcer. (p. 171) ment, in which the goal is to increase the incidence of behavior, punishment is meant to decrease or suppress behavior. (p. 172) Present the pros and cons of punishment. ■ Although punishment often presents the quickest route to changing behavior that, if allowed to continue, might be dangerous to an individual, it has disadvantages that make its routine use questionable. For example, punishment is frequently ineffective, particularly if it is not delivered shortly after the undesired behavior. Worse, physical punishment can convey to the recipient the idea that physical aggression is permissible and perhaps even desirable. (p. 173) ■ The research findings are clear: reinforcing desired behavior is a more appropriate technique for modifying behavior than using punishment. (p. 174) Explain reinforcers and punishment. ■ Positive reinforcers are stimuli that are added to the environment and lead to an increase in a preceding response. Negative reinforcers are stimuli that remove something unpleasant from the environment, also leading to an increase in the preceding response. (p. 172) • Punishment decreases the probability that a prior behavior will occur. Positive punishment weakens a response through the application of an unpleasant stimulus, whereas negative punishment weakens a response by the removal of something positive. In contrast to reinforce180 Chapter 5 learning Discuss schedules of reinforcement. ■ Schedules and patterns of reinforcement affect the strength and duration of learning. Generally, partial reinforcement schedules—in which reinforcers are not delivered on every trial— produce stronger and longer-lasting learning than do continuous reinforcement schedules. (p. 174) ■ Among the major categories of reinforcement schedules are fixed- and variable-ratio schedules, which are based on the number of responses made; and fixed- and variableinterval schedules, which are based on the time interval that elapses before reinforcement is provided. (p. 175) Explain the concept of shaping. ■ Shaping is a process for teaching complex behaviors by rewarding closer and closer approximations of the desired final behavior. (p. 177) evaluate 1. conditioning describes learning that occurs as a result of reinforcement. 2. Match the type of operant learning with its definition: 1. An unpleasant stimulus is presented to decrease behavior. a. Positive reinforcement 2. An unpleasant stimulus is removed to increase behavior. b. Negative reinforcement 3. A pleasant stimulus is presented to increase behavior. c. Positive punishment 4 . A pleasant stimulus is removed to decrease behavior. d. Negative punishment 3. Sandy had had a rough day, and his son’s noisemaking was not helping him relax. Not wanting to resort to scolding, Sandy told his son in a serious manner that he was very tired and would like the boy to play quietly for an hour. This approach worked. For Sandy, the change in his son’s behavior was a. Positively reinforcing b. Negatively reinforcing 4 . In a reinforcement schedule, behavior is reinforced some of the time, whereas in a reinforcement schedule, behavior is reinforced all the time. 5. Match the type of reinforcement schedule with its definition: 1. Reinforcement occurs after a set time period. a. Fixed-ratio 2. Reinforcement occurs after a set number of responses. b. Variable-interval 3. Reinforcement occurs after a varying time period. c. Fixed-interval 4 . Reinforcement occurs after a varying number of responses. d. Variable-ratio rethink Using scientific literature as a guide, what would you tell parents who wish to know if the routine use of physical punishment is a necessary and acceptable form of child rearing? Answers to Evaluate Questions 1. operant; 2 . c-1; b-2; a-3; d-4 3. b 4 . partial (or intermittent), continuous; 5. c-1, a-2, b-3, d-4 Module 16 operant conditioning 181 key terms Operant conditioning p. 170 Reinforcement p. 171 Reinforcer p. 171 Positive reinforcer p. 172 Negative reinforcer p. 172 Punishment p. 172 Schedules of reinforcement p. 174 Continuous reinforcement p. 174 Partial (or intermittent) reinforcement schedule p. 174 Fixed-ratio schedule p. 175 Variable-ratio schedule p. 175 Fixed-interval schedule p. 176 Variable-interval schedule p. 177 Shaping p. 177 Behavior modification p. 179 182 Chapter 5 learning module 17 Cognitive Approaches to Learning Consider what happens when people learn to drive a car. They don’t just get behind the wheel and stumble around until they randomly 17.1 Explain latent learning put the key into the ignition, and later, after many false starts, acci- and how it works in dentally manage to get the car to move forward, thereby receiving humans. positive reinforcement. Instead, they already know the basic elements of driving from prior experience as passengers, when they 17.2 Discuss the influence more than likely noticed how the key was inserted into the ignition, of observational learning in the car was put in drive, and the gas pedal was pressed to make the acquiring skills. car go forward. Clearly, not all learning is due to operant and classical condi- 17.3 Describe research tioning. In fact, activities like learning to drive a car imply that findings about observational some kinds of learning must involve higher-order processes in learning and media which people’s thoughts and memories and the way they process violence. information account for their responses. Such situations argue against regarding learning as the unthinking, mechanical, and automatic acquisition of associations between stimuli and responses, as in classical conditioning, or the presentation of reinforcement, as in operant conditioning. Cognitive Some psychologists view learning in terms of the thought processes, or Cognitive learning theory An approach to the study of learning that cognitions, that underlie it—an approach known as cognitive learning thefocuses on the thought processes that ory. Although psychologists working from the cognitive learning perspecunderlie learning. tive do not deny the importance of classical and operant conditioning, they have developed approaches that focus on the unseen mental processes that occur during learning, rather than concentrating solely on external stimuli, responses, and reinforcements. Remember that the cognitive In its most basic formulation, cognitive learning theory suggests that it is learning approach focuses not enough to say that people make responses because there is an assumed on the internal thoughts link between a stimulus and a response—a link that is the result of a past and expectations of history of reinforcement for a response. Instead, according to this point learners, whereas classical of view, people, and even lower animals, develop an expectation t hat they and operant conditioning will receive a reinforcer after making a response. Two types of learning in approaches focus on external which no obvious prior reinforcement is present are latent learning and stimuli, responses, and reinforcement. observational learning. learning outcomes s tudy aler t Module 17 cognitive approaches to learning 183 LO LO 1 Latent learning Learning in which Latent Learning a new behavior is acquired but is not demonstrated until some incentive is provided for displaying it. Evidence for the importance of cognitive processes comes from a series of animal experiments that revealed a type of cognitive learning called latent learning. In latent learning, a new behavior is learned but not demonstrated until some incentive is provided for displaying it (Tolman & Honzik, 1930). In short, latent learning occurs without reinforcement. In the studies demonstrating latent learning, psychologists examined the behavior of rats in a maze such as the one shown in Figure 1A. In one experiment, a group of rats was allowed to wander around the maze once a day for 17 days without ever receiving a reward. Understandably, those rats made many errors and spent a relatively long time reaching the end of the maze. A second group, however, was always given food at the end of the maze. Not surprisingly, 10 Average number of errors 8 Unrewarded control 6 One-way door A Curtain 4 Rewarded control 2 Experimental group B 0 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 Days Figure 1 (A) In an attempt to demonstrate latent learning, rats were allowed to roam through a maze of this sort once a day for 17 days. (B) The rats that were never rewarded (the nonrewarded control condition) consistently made the most errors, whereas those that received food at the finish every day (the rewarded control condition) consistently made far fewer errors. But the results also showed latent learning: rats that were initially unrewarded but began to be rewarded only after the 10th day (the experimental group) showed an immediate reduction in errors and soon became similar in error rate to the rats that had been rewarded consistently. According to cognitive learning theorists, the reduction in errors indicates that the rats had developed a cognitive map—a mental representation—of the maze. Can you think of other examples of latent learning? 184 Chapter 5 learning those rats learned to run quickly and directly to the food box, making few errors. A third group of rats started out in the same situation as the unrewarded rats, but only for the first 10 days. On the 11th day, a critical experimental manipulation was introduced: from that point on, the rats in this group were given food for completing the maze. The results of this manipulation were dramatic, as you can see from the graph in Figure 1B. The previously unrewarded rats, which had earlier seemed to wander about aimlessly, showed such reductions in running time and declines in error rates that their performance almost immediately matched that of the group that had received rewards from the start. To cognitive theorists, it seemed clear that the unrewarded rats had learned the layout of the maze early in their explorations; they just never displayed their latent learning until the reinforcement was offered. Instead, those rats seemed to develop a cognitive map of the maze—a mental representation of spatial locations and directions. People, too, develop cognitive People, too, develop cognitive maps of their of their surroundings. surroundings. For example, latent learning may permit you to know the location of a kitchenware store at a local mall you’ve frequently visited, even though you’ve never entered the store and don’t even like to cook. The possibility that we develop our cognitive maps through latent learning presents something of a problem for strict operant conditioning theorists. If we consider the results of the maze-learning experiment, for instance, it is unclear what reinforcement permitted the rats that initially received no reward to learn the layout of the maze, because there was no obvious reinforcer present. Instead, the results support a cognitive view of learning, in which changes occurred in unobservable mental processes (Beatty, 2002; Voicu & Schmajuk, 2002; Frensch & Rünger, 2003; Stouffer & White, 2006). maps LO LO 2 Observational Learning: Learning Through Imitation psych 2.0 www.mhhe.com/psychlife Let’s return for a moment to the case of a person learning to drive. How can we account for instances in which an individual with no direct experience in carrying out a particular behavior learns the behavior and then performs it? To answer this question, psychologists have focused on another aspect of cognitive learning: observational learning. According to psychologist Albert Bandura and colleagues, a major part of human learning consists of observational learning, which is learning by watching Observational Learning the behavior of another person, or model. Because of its reliance on observation of others—a social phenomenon—the perspective taken by Bandura is often referred to as a social cognitive approach to learning (Bandura, 2004). Observational learning Learning Bandura dramatically demonstrated the ability of models to stimulate by observing the behavior of another learning in a classic experiment. In the study, young children saw a film of person, or model. an adult wildly hitting a five-foot-tall inflatable punching toy called a Bobo Module 17 cognitive approaches to learning 185 © The New Yorker Collection 1995 Grahan Wilson from cartoonbank.com. All rights reserved. Albert Bandura examined the principles of observational learning. doll (Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1963a, 1963b). Later the children were given the opportunity to play with the Bobo doll themselves, and, sure enough, most displayed the same kind of behavior, in some cases mimicking the aggressive behavior almost identically. Not only negative behaviors are acquired through observational learning. In one experiment, for example, children who were afraid of dogs were exposed to a model— dubbed the Fearless Peer—playing with a dog (Bandura, Grusec, & Menlove, 1967). After exposure, observers were considerably more likely to approach a strange dog than were children who had not viewed the Fearless Peer. Observational learning is particularly important in acquiring skills in which the operant conditioning technique of shaping is inappropriate. Piloting an airplane and performing brain surgery, for example, are behavA key point of observational iors that could hardly be learned by using trial-and-error methods without learning approaches is that grave cost—literally—to those involved in the learning process. the behavior of models who are rewarded for a given Observational learning may have a genetic basis. For example, we find behavior is more likely to be observational learning at work with mother animals teaching their young imitated than behavior in such activities as hunting. In addition, the discovery of mirror neurons that which the model is punished fire when we observe another person carrying out a behavior (discussed in for the behavior. the chapter on neuroscience) suggests that the capacity to imitate others may be inborn (see Figure 2; Thornton & McAuliffe, 2006; Lepage & Theoret, 2007; Schulte-Ruther et al., 2007). Not all behavior that we witness is learned or carried out, of course. One crucial factor that determines whether we later imitate a model is whether the model is rewarded for his or her behavior. If we observe a friend being rewarded for putting more time into her studies by receiving higher grades, we are more likely to imitate her behavior than we would if her behavior resulted only in being stressed and tired. Models who are rewarded for behaving in a particular way are more apt to be mimicked than are models who receive punishment. Observing the punishment of a model, however, does not necessarily stop observers from learning the behavior. Observers can still describe the model’s behavior—they are just less apt to perform it (Bandura, This girl is displaying 1977, 1986, 1994). observational learning based on Observational learning is central to prior observation of her mother. a number of important issues relating How does observational to the extent to which people learn simlearning contribute to defining gender roles? ply by watching the behavior of others. s tudy aler t 186 Chapter 5 learning Figure 2 This fMRI scan shows the activation of specific regions of the brain related to mirror neuron systems when participants in an experiment observed three different kinds of behavior: hand movements (such as twisting a lid), shown in blue; body-referred movements (such as brushing teeth), shown in green; and expressive gestures (such as threatening gestures), shown in red. The brain activation occurred in perception-related areas in the occipital and temporal lobes of the brain as well as the mirror neuron system in the lateral frontal and superior parietal lobes.(Source: Lotze et al., 2006, p. 1790.) For instance, the degree to which observation of media aggression produces subsequent aggression on the part of viewers is a crucial—and controversial— question, as we discuss next. Violence in Television and Video Games: Does the Media’s Message Matter? LO 3 In an episode of “The Sopranos” television series, fictional mobster Tony Soprano murdered one of his associates. To make identification of the victim’s body difficult, Soprano and one of his henchmen dismembered the body and dumped the body parts. A few months later, two real-life half brothers in Riverside, California, strangled their mother and then cut her head and hands from her body. Victor Bautista, 20, and Matthew Montejo, 15, were caught by police after a security guard noticed that the bundle they were attempting to throw in a Dumpster had a foot sticking out of it. They told police that the plan to dismember their mother was inspired by “The Sopranos” epi- Do you think observation of “The Sopranos” television show resulted in an upswing in viewer violence? sode (Martelle, Hanley, & Yoshino, 2003). Module 17 cognitive approaches to learning 187 Like other “media copycat” killings, the brothers’ cold-blooded brutality raises a critical issue: Does observing violent and antisocial acts in the media lead viewers to behave in similar ways? Because research on modeling shows that people frequently learn and imitate the aggression that they observe, this question is among the most important issues being addressed by psychologists. Certainly, the amount of violence in the mass media is enormous. By the time of elementary school graduation, the average child in the United States will have viewed more than 8,000 murders and more than 800,000 violent acts on network television (Huston et al., 1992; Mifflin, 1998). Most experts agree that watching high levels of media violence makes viewers more susceptible to acting aggressively, and recent research supports this claim. For example, one survey of serious and violent young male offenders incarcerated in Florida showed that one-fourth of them had attempted to commit a media-inspired copycat crime (Surette, 2002). A significant proportion of those teenage offenders noted that they paid close attention to the media. Several aspects of media violence may contribute to real-life aggressive behavior (Bushman & Anderson, 2001; Johnson et al., 2002). For one thing, experiencing violent media content seems to lower inhibitions against carrying out aggression—watching television portrayals of violence makes aggression seem a legitimate response to particular situations. Exposure to media violence also may distort our understanding of the meaning of others’ behavior, predisposing us to view even nonaggressive acts by others as aggressive. Finally, a continuous diet of aggression may leave us desensitized to violence, and what previously would have repelled us now produces little emotional response. Our sense of the pain and suffering brought about by aggression may be diminished (Bartholow, Bushman, & Sestir, 2006; Weber, Ritterfeld, & Kostygina, 2006; Carnagey, Anderson, & Bushman, 2007). From the perspective of . . . A Video Game Designer What responsibility would you have regarding how much violence was projected in your design? e x p l o r i n g d iver sit y Does Culture Influence How We Learn? When a member of the Chilcotin Indian tribe teaches her daughter to prepare salmon, at first she only allows the daughter to observe the entire process. A little later, she permits her child to try out some basic parts of the task. Her response to questions is noteworthy. For example, when the 188 Chapter 5 learning try it! What’s Your Receptive Learning Style? Read each of the following statements and rank them in terms of their usefulness to you as learning approaches. Base your ratings on your personal experiences and preferences, using the following scale: 1 2 3 4 5 Not at all useful Not very useful Neutral Somewhat useful Very useful 1 1. Studying alone 2. Studying pictures and diagrams to understand complex ideas 3. Listening to class lectures 4. Performing a process myself rather than reading or hearing about it 5. Learning a complex procedure by reading written directions 6. Watching and listening to film, computer, or video presentations 7. Listening to a book or lecture on tape 8. Doing lab work 9. Studying teachers’ handouts and lecture notes 10. Studying in a quiet room 11. Taking part in group discussions 12. Taking part in hands-on classroom demonstrations 13. Taking notes and studying them later 14. Creating flash cards and using them as a study and review tool 15. Memorizing and recalling how words are spelled by spelling them “out loud” in my head 16. Writing key facts and important points down as a tool for remembering them 17. Recalling how to spell a word by seeing it in my head (continued) 2 3 4 5 Module 17 cognitive approaches to learning 189 try it! —concluded 18. Underlining or highlighting important facts or passages in my reading 19. Saying things out loud when I’m studying 20. Recalling how to spell a word by “writing” it invisibly in the air or on a surface 21. Learning new information by reading about it in a textbook 22. Using a map to find an unknown place 23. Working in a study group 24. Finding a place I’ve been to once by just going there without directions Scoring The statements cycle through four receptive learning styles: ■ Read/write: If you have a read/write learning style, you prefer information that is presented visually in a written format. You feel most comfortable reading, and you may recall the spelling of a word by thinking of how the word looks. You probably learn best when you have the opportunity to read about a concept rather than listening to a teacher explain it. ■ Visual/graphic: Students with a visual/graphic learning style learn most effectively when material is presented visually in a diagram or picture. You might recall the structure of a chemical compound by reviewing a picture in your mind, and you benefit from instructors who make frequent use of visual aids such as videos, maps, and models. Students with visual learning styles find it easier to see things in their mind’s eye—to visualize a task or concept—than to be lectured about them. Auditory/verbal: Have you ever asked a friend to help you put something together by having her read the directions to you while you worked? If you did, you may have an auditory/verbal learning style. People with auditory/verbal learning styles prefer listening to explanations rather than reading them. They love class lectures and discussions, because they can easily take in the information that is being talked about. ■ ■ Tactile/kinesthetic: Students with a tactile/kinesthetic learning style prefer to learn by doing—touching, manipulating objects, and doing things. For instance, some people enjoy the act of writing because of the feel of a pencil or a computer keyboard—the tactile equivalent of thinking out loud. Or they may find that it helps them to make a three-dimensional model to understand a new idea. To find your primary learning style, disregard your 1, 2, and 3 ratings. Add up your 4 and 5 ratings for each learning style (i.e., a “4” equals 4 points and a “5” equals 5 points). Use the following chart to link the statements to the learning styles and to write down your summed ratings: Learning Style Read/write Visual/graphic Auditory/verbal Statements 1, 5, 9, 13, 17, and 21 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, and 22 3, 7, 11, 15, 19, and 23 Total (Sum) of Rating Points Tactile/kinesthetic 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, and 24 The total of your rating points for any given style will range from a low of 0 to a high of 30. The highest total indicates your main receptive learning style. Don’t be surprised if you have a mixed style, in which two or more styles receive similar ratings. 190 Chapter 5 learning daughter asks about how to do “the backbone part,” the mother’s response is to repeat the entire process with another salmon. The reason? The mother feels that one cannot learn the individual parts of the task apart from the context of preparing the whole fish. (Tharp, 1989) It should not be surprising that children raised in the Chilcotin tradition, which stresses instruction that starts by communicating the entire task, may have difficulty with traditional Western schooling. In the approach to teaching most characteristic of Western culture, tasks are broken down into their component parts. Only after each small step is learned is it thought possible to master the complete task. Do the differences in teaching approaches Do the differences in teaching between cultures affect how people learn? Some psychologists, taking a cognitive perspective on approaches between cultures affect learning, suggest that people develop particular how people learn? learning styles, characteristic ways of approaching material, based on their cultural background and unique pattern of abilities (Anderson & Adams, 1992; Barmeyer, 2004; Wilkinson & Olliver-Gray, 2006). Learning styles differ along several dimensions. For example, one central dimension relates to our receptive learning style, or the way in which we initially receive information from our sense organs and then process that information. As you can see for yourself in the accompanying Try It!, you probably have a receptive learning style in which you prefer to have material presented in a particular manner. For example, you may prefer to learn from visual/graphic material, rather than through reading written material. Another important learning style is relational versus analytical approaches to learning. As illustrated in Figure 3, people with a relational learning style Relational Style 1 2 Perceive information as part of total picture Exhibit improvisational and intuitive thinking More easily learn materials that have a human, social content and are characterized by experimental/cultural relevance Have a good memory for verbally presented ideas and information, especially if relevant Are more task-oriented concerning nonacademic areas Are influenced by authority figures’ expression of confidence or doubt in students’ ability Prefer to withdraw from unstimulating task performance Style conflicts with the traditional school environment Analytical Style Able to dis-embed information from total picture (focus on detail) Exhibit sequential and structured thinking More easily learn materials that are inanimate and impersonal 3 4 5 Have a good memory for abstract ideas and irrelevant information Are more task-oriented concerning academics Are not greatly affected by the opinions of others Show ability to persist at unstimulating tasks Style matches most school environments 6 7 8 Figure 3 A comparison of analytical versus relational approaches to learning offers one example of how learning styles differ along several dimensions. Module 17 cognitive approaches to learning 191 master material best through exposure to a full unit or phenomenon. Parts of the unit are comprehended only when their relationship to the whole is understood. In contrast, those with an analytical learning style do best when they can carry out an initial analysis of the principles and components underlying a phenomenon or situation. By developing an understanding of the fundamental principles and components, they are best able to understand the full picture. According to James Anderson Even though these friends have grown up next door to one another and are and Maurianne Adams, particular similar in many ways, they have very different learning styles. What might minority groups in Western societaccount for this? ies display characteristic learning styles. For instance, they argue that Caucasian females and African American, Native American, and Hispanic American males and females are more apt to use a relational style of learning than Caucasian and Asian American males, who are more likely to employ an analytical style (Anderson & Adams, 1992; Adams et al., 2000). The conclusion that members of particular ethnic and gender groups have similar learning styles is controversial. Because there is so much diversity within each particular racial and ethnic group, critics argue that generalizations about learning styles cannot be used to predict the style of any single individual, regardless of group membership. Still, it is clear that values about learning, which are communicated through a person’s family and cultural background, have an impact on how successful students are in school. One theory suggests that members of minority groups who were voluntary immigrants are more apt to be successful in school than those who were brought into a majority culture against their will. For example, Korean children in the United States—the sons and daughters of voluntary immigrants—perform quite well, as a group, in school. In contrast, Korean children in Japan, who were often the sons and daughters of people who were forced to immigrate during World War II, essentially as forced laborers, tend to do poorly in school. Presumably, children in the forced immigration group are less motivated to succeed than those in the voluntary immigration group (Ogbu, 1992, 2003; Foster, 2005). recap Explain latent learning and how it works in humans. ■ Cognitive approaches to learning consider learning in terms of thought processes, or cognition. Phenomena such as latent 192 Chapter 5 learning learning—in which a new behavior is learned but not performed until some incentive is provided for its performance—and the apparent development of cognitive maps support cognitive approaches. (p. 184) Discuss the influence of observational learning in acquiring skills. ■ Learning also occurs from observing the behavior of others. The major factor that determines whether an observed behavior will actually be performed is the nature of the reinforcement or punishment a model receives. (p. 185) ■ Observational learning, which may have a genetic basis, is particularly important in acquiring skills in which the operant conditioning technique of shaping is inappropriate. (p. 186) Describe research findings about observational learning and media violence. ■ Observation of violence is linked to a greater likelihood of subsequently acting aggressively. (p. 188) ■ Experiencing violent media content seems to lower inhibitions against carrying out aggression; may distort our understanding of the meaning of others’ behavior, predisposing us to view even nonaggressive acts by others as aggressive; and desensitizes us to violence. (p. 188) evaluate 1. Cognitive learning theorists are concerned only with overt behavior, not with its internal causes. True or false? 2. In cognitive learning theory, it is assumed that people develop a(n) about receiving a reinforcer when they behave a certain way. 3 . In is presented. learning, a new behavior is learned but is not shown until appropriate reinforcement 4 . Bandura’s theory of learning states that people learn through watching a(n) —another person displaying the behavior of interest. rethink The relational style of learning sometimes conflicts with the traditional school environment. Could a school be created that takes advantage of the characteristics of the relational style? How? Are there types of learning for which the analytical style is clearly superior? Answers to Evaluate Questions 1. false; cognitive learning theorists are primarily concerned with mental processes; 2. expectation; 3. latent; 4. observational, model key terms Cognitive learning theory p. 183 Latent learning p. 184 Observational learning p. 185 Module 17 cognitive approaches to learning 193 looking back Psychology on the Web 1. B. F. Skinner had an impact on society and on thought that is only hinted at in our discussion of learning. Find additional information on the Web about Skinner’s life and influence. See what you can find out about his ideas for an ideal, utopian society based on the principles of conditioning and behaviorism. Write a summary of your findings. 2. Select a topic discussed in this set of modules that is of interest to you—for example, reinforcement versus punishment, teaching complex behaviors by shaping, violence in video games, relational versus analytical learning styles, behavior modification, and so on. Find at least two sources of information on the Web about your topic and summarize the results of your quest. It may be most helpful to find two different approaches to your topic and compare them. 194 Chapter 5 the case of… the manager who doubled produc tivit y good job. He set daily production goals for them, and every Friday afternoon he bought lunch for all staff members who met their goals every day that week. Moreover, Cliff randomly conducted spot checks on what staff members were doing, and if he found them hard at work, he gave them small rewards such as extra break time. Within just three months, productivity in Cliff’s department nearly doubled. It became the most efficient department in the company. When Cliff Richards took over as the new department manager, he discovered that the existing staff was unusually inefficient and unproductive. Cliff learned that the previous manager often criticized and chided staff members for every little mistake until many of the best people had left, and the rest felt demoralized. Cliff resolved not to criticize or punish staff members unless it was absolutely necessary. Instead, he frequently complimented them whenever they did a 1. How did Cliff take advantage of principles of operant conditioning to modify his staff’s behavior? 2. Why did Cliff’s predecessor’s strategy of punishing undesirable behavior not work very well? Even if punishment and reinforcement strategies were equally effective at controlling behavior, why would reinforcement remain preferable? 3. How did Cliff make use of partial reinforcement schedules? What kinds of schedules did he use? 4 . How could Cliff use his technique to train his staff to complete a complex new task that they had never done before? 5. How might Cliff make use of principles of cognitive learning theory to improve his staff’s productivity even further? learning 195 full circle learning Classical Conditioning The Basics of Classical Conditioning Applying Conditioning Principles to Human Behavior Extinction Generalization and Discrimination 196 Chapter 5 Operant Conditioning The Basics of Operant Conditioning Positive Reinforcers, Negative Reinforcers, and Punishment The Pros and Cons of Punishment: Why Reinforcement Beats Punishment Schedules of Reinforcement: Timing Life’s Rewards Shaping: Reinforcing What Doesn’t Come Naturally Cognitive Approaches to Learning Latent Learning Observational Learning: Learning Through Imitation Violence in Television and Video Games: Does the Media’s Message Matter? LEARNING 197

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