Operant Conditioning (2)

Operant Conditioning (2) - Operant Conditioning Operant...

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Operant Conditioning Operant conditioning can be defined as a type of learning in which voluntary (controllable; non-reflexive) behavior is strengthened if it is reinforced and weakened if it is punished (or not reinforced) . Note: Skinner referred to this as Instrumental Conditioning/Learning A. The most prominent figure in the development and study of Operant Conditioning was B. F. Skinner 1. History: a) As an Undergraduate he was an English major, then decided to study Psychology in graduate school. b) Early in his career he believed much of behavior could be studied in a single, controlled environment (created Skinner box - address later). Instead of observing behavior in the natural world, he attempted to study behavior in a closed, controlled unit. This prevents any factors not under study from interfering with the study - as a result, Skinner could truly study behavior and specific factors that influence behavior. c) during the "cognitive revolution" that swept Psychology (discussed later), Skinner stuck to the position that behavior was not guided by inner force or cognition. This made him a "radical behaviorist". d) as his theories of Operant Conditioning developed, Skinner became passionate about social issues, such as free will, how they developed, why they developed, how they were propagated, etc. 2. Skinner's views of Operant Conditioning a) Operant Conditioning is different from Classical Conditioning in that the behaviors studied in Classical Conditioning are reflexive (for example, salivating). However, the behaviors studied and governed by the principles of Operant Conditioning are non-reflexive (for example, gambling). So, compared to Classical Conditioning, Operant Conditioning attempts to predict non-reflexive, more complex behaviors, and the conditions in which they will occur. In addition, Operant Conditioning deals with behaviors that are performed so that the organism can obtain reinforcement. b) there are many factors involved in determining if an organism will engage in a behavior - just because there is food doesn't mean an organism will eat (time of day, last meal, etc.). SO, unlike classical conditioning. ..(go to "c", below) c) in Op. Cond., the organism has a lot of control. Just because a stimulus is presented, does not necessarily mean that an organism is going to react in any specific way. Instead, reinforcement is dependent on the organism's behavior. In other words, in order for an organism to receive some type of reinforcement, the organism must behave in a specific manner. For example, you can't win at a slot machine unless several things happen, most importantly, you pull the lever. Pulling the lever is a voluntary, non-reflexive behavior that must be exhibited before reinforcement
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This note was uploaded on 12/04/2011 for the course PSY 2012 taught by Professor Scheff during the Fall '08 term at Broward College.

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Operant Conditioning (2) - Operant Conditioning Operant...

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