Psychology_and_your_Life_Ch05 - l e a r n i n g 5 chapter...

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Unformatted text preview: l e a r n i n g 5 chapter 160 161 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 tornadofocused 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 response- trained 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 tempera- ment 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) A Four-Legged Co-Worker Declan's expertise did not just happen, of course. It is the result of painstaking training proceduresthe 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 fundamen- tal 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. ahead looking chapter outline 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...
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