Learnin2 - that rats and pigeons could be shaped through...

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Learning 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
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Unformatted text preview: 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....
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