Chapter8NarrativeSummary - Chapter 8 Summary CHAPTER...

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Chapter 8 Summary CHAPTER 8 (SUMMARY): LEARNING Overview Learning helps us adapt to our environment. For example, through classical conditioning, we learn to anticipate events, such as being fed or experiencing pain. In his famous studies, Pavlov presented a neutral stimulus just before an unconditioned stimulus, which normally triggered an unconditioned response. After several repetitions, the neutral stimulus alone began triggering a conditioned response resembling the unconditioned response. Pavlov’s work laid a foundation for John Watson’s emerging belief that psychology should study only overt behavior, a position he called behaviorism. The behaviorists’ optimism that learning principles would generalize from one response to another and from one species to another has been tempered. We now know that conditioning principles are cognitively and biologically constrained. While in classical conditioning we learn to associate two stimuli, in operant conditioning we learn to associate a response and its consequence. Skinner showed that rats and pigeons could be shaped through reinforcement to display successively closer approximations of a desired behavior. Researchers have also studied the effects of positive and negative reinforcers, primary and conditioned reinforcers, and immediate and delayed reinforcers. Critics point to research on latent learning and overjustification to support their claim that Skinner underestimated the importance of cognitive constraints. Although Skinner’s emphasis on external control also stimulated much debate regarding human freedom and the ethics of managing people, his operant principles are being applied in schools, businesses, and homes. A third type of learning important among higher animals is what Albert Bandura calls observational learning. Children tend to imitate what a model does and says, whether the behavior is prosocial or antisocial. Research suggests that violence on television leads to aggressive behavior by children and teenagers who watch the programs. The importance of learning and the process of learning associations. Learning is a relatively permanent change in an organism’s behavior due to experience. Nature’s most important gift to us may be our adaptability—our capacity to learn new behaviors that enable us to cope with ever-changing experiences. We learn by association; our mind naturally connects events that occur in sequence. The events linked in associative learning may be two stimuli (as in classical conditioning) or a response and a rewarding or punishing stimulus (as in operant conditioning). Early behaviorists such as John Watson argued that psychology should be an objective science and that it should study only overt behavior without reference to mental processes. They believed that the learned behaviors of various organisms could be reduced to universal stimulus- response mechanisms.
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