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LECTURE 1: INTRODUCTION

Learning and Conditioning

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Aristotle (Empiricism)

Empiricism vs. Nativism: Nurture vs. Nature (Aristotle vs. Plato)

He believed in Empiricism: knowledge is learned

Laws of Association: ideas come to be connected with each other through certain laws

  • 1. Law of similarity: events that are similar to each other are readily associated to each other (e.g. cars and trucks – similar in terms of function and appearance, so easier to associate)

  • 2. Law of contrast: also easy to associate things that are opposite of each other (e.g. high/low, black/white)

  • 3. Law of contiguity: events that occur in close proximity, in time or space, are readily associated (e.g. lightning and thunder occur closely in time – one is predictive of the other)

  • 4. Law of frequency: more frequently the two items occur together, the more strongly they are associated (e.g. lightning and thunder occur together so they are strongly associated)

Plato was Aristotle’s teacher Believed that we come into this world with all the knowledge that we will ever need

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When we age, we look inwards, and bring that knowledge out

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Aristotle disagreed: believed that this knowledge we have must be acquired through experience

Descartes (Mind-Body Dualism)

Mind-Body Dualism: human beings have both a mind and a body Mind: has free will, and produces voluntary behaviours (e.g. I will pick up my phone) Body: functions like a machine, produces involuntary reflexive behaviours that respond to some kind of external stimulus; (does not have free will (e.g. dust blows up nose – body sneezes)

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Reflex: some behaviours are mechanistic – can be scientifically investigated Learning: use of animal models, because animals may also have these reflexes

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British Empiricists: John Locke

John Locke: disputed the idea of being born with all knowledge

Mind as a ‘blank slate’

Conscious mind: finite set of basic elements Specific colours, sounds, smells – gathered up as you move through the world, and combined through

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Did not do experiments, came up with these logical ideas

principles of associations, into complex thoughts, etc.

Importance of experience and interacting with the environment

Structuralism: Wundt & Titchener

 Wilhelm Wundt  Edward Titchener Experimental study of consciousness Determine the structure of the mind by identifying the basic elements of which it is composed

Method: Introspection (describe as much as possible what your experiences are)

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People have different experiences of the same situation

The person guiding the introspection could bias it as well – may affect what the person focuses on

This method decreased – not very structured

Contrasting previous: proposed experiments

Functionalism: William James

Study of the ADAPTIVE mind: idea that the mind has evolved to adapt to the world around us

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Influenced by Darwin evolution

William James: often regarded as founder of American psychology

Learning: is an adaptive process – what allows us to adapt to our environment

Method: also used introspection (didn’t work well), but also studied animal models to try to understand human behaviours

Behaviourism: Watson

Introspection unreliable – need to find a different method

“If you fail to reproduce my findings, it is not due to some fault in your apparatus or in the control of your stimulus, but it is due to the fact that your introspection is untrained…If you can’t observe 3-9 states of clearness in attention, your introspection is poor. If, on the other hand, a feeling seems reasonably clear to you, your introspection is again faulty. You are seeing too much. Feelings are never clear.” (Watson, 1913, p.

163)

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Different labs were not able to reproduce same findings – couldn’t agree

Study of observable behaviour: psychology to focus on what can be observed, instead of just introspection, because different researchers couldn’t agree

Natural science approach to psychology that emphasizes the study of environmental influences on observable

behaviour Principles that govern nonhuman species might also be relevant to humans:

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Therefore we can use animal models to learn about behaivour and what affects behaviour – can apply

 

to humans

Law of parsimony: “Simple” explanations are better than complex explanations. Watson said psychologists should avoid interpreting human behaviour/feelings – too complex.

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Behavioural psychology adheres to this law.

Five Schools of Behaviourism

1) Methodological Behaviourism

Watson

behaviourism)

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Watson behaviourism) o o o o

Study only those behaviours that can be directly

observed (most restricted/extreme version of

Most restricted/extreme version – ONLY observable behaviour is studied

Came to believe that all behaviours were reflexive

S-R: stimulus-response theory

Learning is simple connections that get made between the stimulus (environment) and response

(behaviour) Watson’s beliefs became more extreme over time:“give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own

specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief, and yes, even beggar-man and their, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors” (p.104)

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Babies come into the world with 3 basic emotions: love, fear, and rage Everything else is learned through experience (according to Watson)

Behaviourism: Watson  Introspection unreliable – need to find a different method  “If you fail

2) Hull’s Neobehaviourism

Intervening variables Physiological processes

Believed that Watson’s rejection of internal events is not right Science will make inferences about all kinds of things you can’t observe (e.g. gravity: can infer gravity by seeing something fall) Can use intervening variables to make inferences about things that cannot be “seen” or clearly observed Should specifically operationalize these internal physiological processes Agreed that we shouldn’t use introspection, but would operationalize by asking, for example, how many hours has it been since you last ate (instead of “how hungry are you”) Still an S-R theory: e.g. candy as a stimulus. It’s not see candy = eat candy. Prof only eats candy when she’s hungry driving home at night, not while she’s driving to work in the morning. Internal event: level of hunger (how long it has been since she last ate), which is an intervening variable to observable behaviour (eating the candy)

3) Tolman’s Cognitive Behaviourism

Molar approach

Intervening variables -> more mentalistic

Behaviourism: Watson  Introspection unreliable – need to find a different method  “If you fail

E.g. Seeing a big dog:

 

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What I say to myself will change how I behave (observable behaviour)

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“I am afraid of big dogs” = back away

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“I am afraid of big dogs but I will try to overcome fear by getting to know them” – move toward dog

Belief: Need to analyze behaviour at a broader level – not enough to look at it as a chain of stimulus-

responses. E.g. rat in a maze, with food at the end of the maze

Watson would look at it as a series of stimulus responses (go down a corridor, walk down, see a wall (a

stimulus to stop), turn, etc.) Tolman: that’s too simplistic, need to look at it as a whole – the rat’s behaviour is not just stimulus response,

but a goal-directed behaviour à wants to exit the maze to find the food (not just looking at all the little pieces) The whole was greater than the sum to the parts

Latent learning experiment

Had 3 groups of rats Experiment divided into 2 times

First 10 ten days of experiment: had two groups of rats. o 1 st group of rats (dashed line) got put in the maze and found the food at the end. Measured number of errors rat made (how many times they hit a dead end). Over time, they learned how to get to the food faster and faster. 2 nd group: no food at the end, they just wandered through the maze. Errors decreased a bit, but not by a lot, and they just plateaued.

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Grey line (NR-R): no reward, then suddenly a reward on day

 E.g. Seeing a big dog: o What I say to myself will change how I

11. Would expect that learning would “start” on day 11 (rate of learning should be slow, like the “R” group). However that’s not what they found – by day 12, they found the fruit loop just as fast as the “R” group. This means that they had learned the layout of the maze during the first 10 days, they just didn’t show it until they had incentive (food).

Latent learning: learning will happen even if you don’t see evidence of learning. Cognitive map: aimless walking around builds a structure in their mind of a map. Once they had a reason to get to the end, they were able to use this cognitive map to find it more quickly.

4) Social Learning Theory (Bandura)

Bandura: felt that intervening, internal variables were important (they are actual events that influence our behavoiur as strongly as an external event) Cognitive-behavioural approach Emphasizes: observational learning & cognitive variables

Reciprocal determinism: all affect each other (not just linear like the previous models)

E.g. dog example Environmental event: dog Thought: that’s a scary dog affects observable behaviour – shaking This makes the dog bark – affects environment. Dog barks: and I jump, freaking out Makes dog bark more, and makes me feel more scared (affects internal events)

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 E.g. Seeing a big dog: o What I say to myself will change how I

5) Radical Behaviourism (Skinner)

Skinner: proposed return to a more “strict” method

Emphasizes the influence of the environment on observable behaviour

Difference between Skinner and Watson: Doesn’t reject internal behaviours But, rejects them as

explanations of behaviour Believed: these internal behaviours are worthy of study, however we don’t really know how to study them well (introspection doesn’t work, need to find better methodology) – in the meantime, we should start with what we CAN study

What are we going to study?

Behaviour: there is no single good definition

dead man test” (from Malott, Malott, & Trojan): If a dead man can do it, it’s not a behaviour. If the dead man can’t do it, it’s a behaviour. (Not 100% accurate, but use as a guideline)

Can divide behaviours into internal and external

External: Skinner focused on external because they’re easier to study Talking

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Writing

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Sleeping

Reading?

Breathing?

*Exercising

*Aggression

Eating

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Crying

*Listening

Internal (difficult to study) Thinking

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Feeling anxious

Daydreaming

*Exercise Want to increase exercise What is my behavioural definition of exercising? Is walking back and forth exercising? I can count the number of steps I take. Or is it the number of hours I spend at the gym? Need to make a precise and specific behavioural definition.

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*Aggression Behaviour that I want to change Measure instances of aggression and see whether program decreases the kid’s aggression Behavioural definition: e.g. physical aggression – was there intent and physical harm? How do we know if there was intent? This adds complexity with an internal behaviour. Definition of aggression: kicking, punching, slapping, spitting, etc. What counts as verbal aggression? Can take out certain factors such as intent if it makes it too complex or “cloudy” Bottom line: it can also be difficult to define external behaviours

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What approach are we going to take?

Behavioural approach detailed precise research-based

Behavioural definitions:

careful, detailed, & objective

Criteria (for a good behavioural definition): can be…

observed

measured

counted

tabulated

analyzed

Example:

Tabulate and make analyses (e.g. make a graph)

Measuring anxiety

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Physiological arousal

Reports (e.g. do you have anxious thoughts, such as “what if ”) ..

Behaviours (how it’s impacting on their ability to get their work done for example)

Anxiety avoidance behaviours (moving away from situations)

External Behaviour

Internal Behaviour