THE LEARNING APPROACH(BEHAVIOURISTAPPROACH)AS EDEXCEL PSYCHOLOGY UNIT2
Learning Approach/Behaviourist Psychology:Definition & key terms: All behaviour according to the Learning approach is learned through observation,stimulus-response, association & conditioning. In terms of the nature-nurturedebate, the focus is on nurture. Conditioning: How behaviour is acquired by observing responses to certainstimuli, e.g., if a reward is given to a dog every time it lifts its paw to thecommand ‘paw’, it has been conditioned to behave in this way. (CC) Association: where we learn to associate 2 previously unconnected stimuli witheach other. (CC) Stimulus-response: When we pair a new stimulus with an existingbehavioural response we create a stimulus-response link – e.g., we learn toassociate bells with food when in school, so when we hear a bell we begin to feelhungry; feeling hungry is the response to a new stimulus: the sound of a bell.(CC)
Learning Approach/Behaviourist Psychology:Definition & key terms: Law of Effect: The effect or consequence of abehaviour determines whether the behaviour isrepeated, e.g., handing in work on time –effect/consequence is praise or merit card – if youvalue praise/merit cards the behaviour will be repeatedbecause of the perceived beneficial consequences ofthat behaviour.(OC) Model: Social Learning Theory suggests we imitate orcopy the behaviour of significant others, referred to asmodels & we model their behaviour, especially if ittheir is reinforced or rewarded. (SLT)
Learning Approach/Behaviourist Psychology:Definition & key terms: Vicarious Reinforcement: We learn or model the behaviour ofsignificant others, especially where they are rewarded for their behaviour– this is vicarious reinforcement, e.g., if we see a celebrity ‘rewarded’ forbeing thin we try & lose ourselves, i.e., it is not direct or immediatelypersonal reinforcement. (SLT) Stimulus generalisation: Where an association made between 2stimulus becomes generalised to other similar types of stimuli; e.g., if adog learns to associate a bell with food, then any type of bell sound willgenerate the association with food (famously with Pavlov’s dogs, theassociation with bells or light generated the behavioural response ofsalivation). (CC)
Learning Approach/Behaviourist Psychology:Definition & key terms: Discrimination: In this context discrimination is the oppositeof stimulus generalisation; I.e., instead of generalising a stimulusto the associated behavioural response, the response will occuronly to a very specific stimulus, e.g., a dog will only salivate to acertain pitch or tone of bell, not to any bell sound. (CC) Extinction: This refers to the process where the behaviourstops occurring in response to the stimulus, e.g., after a period ofnot being presented with food when a bell is rung, the dog stopssalivating when it hears a bell. (CC) Spontaneous Recovery: After extinction has occurred thebehavioural response may spontaneously return in response tothe associated stimulus, e.g., after a period of not salivating tothe sound of a bell & not hearing a bell for sometime, when a dogthat has previously associated bells with the presentation of foodhears a bell it begins to salivate again. (CC.)
Learning Approach/Behaviourist Psychology:Definition & key terms: Positive Reinforcement: This is giving something perceived as rewarding orpleasurable after the desired behaviour has been exhibited. E.g., With Skinner,after the rat pressed a lever in the Skinner box it received food. This results inbehaviour being repeated. (OC) Negative Reinforcement: This is behaviour designed to remove somethingunpleasant (or negative) and also results in behaviour being repeated; e.g., if,every time a rat presses a lever it stops a electric foot shock being delivered, therat will press the lever when the foot shock starts. (OC) Punishment: Unlike positive & negative reinforcement, punishment stopsbehaviour being repeated by presenting something unpleasant or painful inresponse to the behaviour being shown. E.g., when a rat presses a lever itreceives a small electric shock. (OC) Types of reinforcers: To encourage desired behaviours reinforcers are needed;there are 2 main types:
Learning Approach/Behaviourist Psychology:Definition & key terms: Primary reinforcers: are used to satisfy basic needs, such asfood, sex, water, love, affection. (OC) Secondary reinforcers: are only rewarding because they areassociated with a primary reinforcer; e.g., money, smiling. (OC).[NB., sometimes reinforcers can be given unintentionally.] Behaviour shaping: The principles of Operant conditioningcan be applied to complex behaviours. Broadly appropriatebehaviour is rewarded & reinforced but becomes gradually moreselective, I.e., reinforcement only follows more closely-relatedbehaviours. E.g., some autistic children cannot speak; toovercome this they may be reinforced for appropriate bodylanguage, eye contact, smiling etc., then only reinforced formaking speech-like sounds, then only reinforced for wordutterances, then only reinforced for sentences. (OC) Successive approximations: This refers to the way behaviourshaping only reinforces more & more closely related desiredbehavioural responses. (OC)
In depth area of study: Classical Conditioning;Operant Conditioning & Social Learning Theory Classical Conditioning: Pavlov developed the theory of Classical Conditioning from hisresearch on the salivary response of dogs: his research generated quantitative,behavioural & therefore observable data, the amount of saliva produced by his dogs inresponse to a learned, neutral stimulus. The response is referred to as Pavlovianconditioning. Key terms: conditioning, stimulus generalisation & discrimination, extinction &spontaneous recovery (see definitions). Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS): the natural stimulus, e.g., food; for a dog food is anatural stimulus. Unconditioned Response (UCR): the natural response to a natural stimulus, it is anassociation that does not have to be learned, e.g., a dog’s natural response to food is tosalivate. Conditioned Stimulus (CS): an unnatural or neutral ‘trigger’ to generate the UCR –salivation – this has to be learned through repeated associations, e.g., if a bell is rungrepeatedly before a dog is presented with food, the bell is the CR & the dog salivates UCR.(NB., salivation is still the UCR because food – UCS is still presented with the CS – thebell.) Conditioned Response (CR): when salivation occurs simply in response to the CR,e.g., the bell alone.
Classical Conditioning (continued) First Order Conditioning is where, for example, a dog learns to associate abell with food. However, if a bell & a buzzer where presented together & thenthe dog was given food, the dog would quickly learn to associate the sound of abuzzer alone with food & would salivate to the sound of a buzzer: this is called Second Order Conditioning or Higher Order Conditioning. This canexplain why sometimes behaviours can be triggered by seemingly quite bizarre,abstract or random stimuli, our associations or connections can be multi-layered.
Classical Conditioning (continued) Typically for classical conditioning to work the CSmust precede (come before) the UCS (the bell mustcome before the food). Simultaneous & backwardconditioning (the CS comes after the UCS; bellcomes after food) are ineffective in creatingbehavioural responses.
Classical Conditioning (continued) Usually the CS & UCS have to paired repeatedly; however,in some circumstances research has shown that 1-triallearning can take place (Garcia & Koelling, 1966). Theyshowed that if rats drank poisoned flavoured water theydemonstrated a strong aversion to the flavoured water (CR)after just 1 exposure to it. If the conditioned - or learned –response to a stimulus is strong enough we do not needrepeated exposure to make a powerful association betweenthe CS & CR.
Classical Conditioning (continued) Principles of classical conditioning have been used in advertising, e.g.,someone attractive, the UCS, is paired with the product, the CS togenerate a UCR, linking that product with the UCS. Classical conditioning can also be used to explain fear & some phobicresponses. For example, we may associate a neutral stimulus (CS) witha situation that causes anxiety, fear or stress (UCS); the naturalresponse to fearful, anxiety inducing situations is to try & avoid them(UCR). So, for example, an individual may get into a lift, then the liftgets stuck and that person is trapped inside for several hours, they maybecome anxious & claustrophobic etc., & may associate lifts with feelinganxious & claustrophobic. He lift is the CS & the fear the CR; the lift isno longer a neutral stimulus because it is has been paired with fear &anxiety (UCS).
Little Albert (Watson & Rayner 1920)UCSloud noise ironbar being struckUCRshock, fearCS/NSIntroductionof rat orfluffy objectsUCS UCRshock, fearCS/NSRat etc.CRshock,fearKeyUCS =UnconditionalStimulusUCR =unconditionalResponseCS/NS =ConditionalStimulus/NeutralStimulusCR=ConditionalResponseN.B. When rat originally introduced Little Albertshowed no fear
Operant Conditioning Unlike classical conditioning, which is learning through association, operant conditioning islearning through consequence. It was famously pioneered by B.F. Skinner & involved hisresearch using mainly pigeons & rats in a device he developed called the Skinner box. (Pg 136) Skinner described the ABC model of operant conditioning using his Skinner box: A=Antecedent: the box or chamber could present a stimulus (lights, noises, levers etc.) thatriggers behaviour. B=Behaviour: a response that could be observed & measured as a result of the antecedent(e.g., pressing a lever). C=Consequence: a reward or punishment followed the behaviour, e.g., pressing levercould=reward – food, or punishment – electric shock.. The stimulus-response association, or desired behaviour, is only repeated if the consequencesof the response (or behaviour) to the stimulus (handing in work on time) is somehow beneficialor rewarding, i.e., praise=positively reinforcing; or the removal of something unpleasant, e.g.,detention, teacher shouting=negative reinforcement.
Operant Conditioning continued Key terms: positive & negative reinforcement, punishment, primary & secondaryreinforcers, behaviour shaping, successive approximations (see definitions we did at thebeginning). Operant conditioning in action: if, when a mother takes her 5 year old shopping, thechild cries & stamps its feet demanding chocolate, if the mother gives in to thisbehaviour, the child has been positively reinforced. The child has learned that thisbehaviour ensured desirable consequences, in this case chocolate. The mother has beennegatively reinforced, by giving in to the child, the mother has learned that theconsequences of giving in are removal of the unpleasant, embarrassing behaviour of thechild. Possibly the best way to prevent a cycle if similar behaviour & to eliminate thebehaviour would be punishment, in the supermarket. However, for punishment to beeffective it has to be carried out immediately following the undesired behaviour, if notthe punishment is not necessarily associated with the undesired behaviour, the intervalbetween punishment & behaviour is too great.
Operant Conditioning continued Avoidance Learning: where a rat learns thatwhen a bell sounds, if it presses a lever it will avoidan electric shock.. The rat quickly learns not towait for the shock, but as soon as it hears the bell itpresses the lever. This can be compared to phobiasin humans; e.g., if you are scared of spiders you donot wait for the spider to come near you, yousimply leave the room. Thus you never learn thatthe spider cannot harm you, there are in fact nobad consequences of having a spider near you, yousimply avoid spiders at all costs.
Operant Conditioning continuedSchedules of Reinforcement Continuous ratio reinforcement: Every time a behaviour isexhibited it gets rewarded; this can result in fairly quick, steady learningbut the behaviour is quickly extinguished if the reward or reinforcementis withdrawn. This schedule is easy to carry out in a laboratory setting,but is rare in everyday life. All other reinforcement schedules are partialas rewards are only offered for the desired behaviour some of the time. Fixed ratio reinforcement: A reward/reinforcement is given after afixed number of the required behaviours, e.g., a reward is given to a dogevery 5th time it obeys the command sit. This schedule tends to producehigh, steady & fairly well-enduring response rates, but extinction is quiterapid once reinforcement is removed. There may be a post-reinforcement pause (PRP) – or gap between receivingreinforcement & resuming performance of the behaviour, e.g., theremight be a gap between the dog being reinforced & obeying the ‘sit’command again.
Social Learning Theory (SLT) Social learning is learning through observation, not association orconsequence. Reinforcement does not have to be direct to reproducebehaviour (vicarious reinforcement). In SLT we can learn behaviourwithout being reinforced for it; however, reinforcement may play a partin the performance of the observed behaviour; e.g., child may learnoffensive language from its parents, but only repeat them in situationsthat will be rewarding – to impress peers or annoy parents An observer learns behaviour through observing & imitating, ormodelling another person (a model). Both humans & animals learn through modelling. Cook (1988) foundthat Rhesus monkeys raised in captivity displayed fear of snakes, afterpreviously showing no fear, when they observed the anxious reactions ofwild rhesus monkeys to snakes. Bandura is most closely associated with Social Learning Theory (SLT).He believed that social learning was only achieved if 4 criteria were met:attention, retention, reproduction & motivation.
Social Learning Theory (SLT) Attention: to the role model – if we do not pay attention we willnot learn. Retention: of the observed behaviour, basically being able toremember the behaviour. Reproduction: of the target behaviour – if the behaviour isbeyond our capabilities we cannot reproduce it, e.g., seeing adance routine on tv – we cannot reproduce it if we have norhythm & cannot dance! Motivation: imitating the observed behaviour must be seen asrewarding in some way. We tend to imitate key models: significant others, e.g., parents,peers, those with power or status & media figures who aresuccessful, people of the same sex, people who we feel we havesome affinity with & people who we see being reinforced for theirbehaviour (vicarious reinforcement).
Social Learning Theory (SLT) Key terms: observation, vicarious reinforcement, models,imitation. An example: A child watches an older sibling use a spoonto eat (attention); remembers it (retention); imitates thatbehaviour next mealtime (reproduction); is praised bymother for using spoon (motivation).
Treatments & therapies: 1 from thelist belowCan you describe & evaluate either:Aversion therapy, OR:Token economy, OR:Flooding, OR:Systematic Desensitisation.
Treatments/therapies based on The Learning Approach:AO1 & AO2. Aversion therapy Aversion therapy: is based on the principles of ClassicalConditioning. It aims to remove undesirable behaviour, e.g.,alcoholism, by associating the behaviour with an aversive stimulus,leading to a conditioned response where the undesired, maladaptivebehaviour is associated with something unpleasant. Alcoholism has been treated using aversion therapy. Alcoholics aregiven an emetic drug (something which induces vomiting), likeantabuse; the alcohol becomes paired or associated with vomiting, sothat vomiting becomes a conditioned response to alcohol & the alcoholicstops drinking. Aversion therapy has also been used to treat sexuallydeviant behaviour, self-harm in children &, rather controversially,homosexuality in the 1960s. In these cases the aversive stimuli could beelectric shocks or negative social, emotional & physical consequences ofthe ‘deviant’ behaviour.
Treatments/therapies based on The Learning Approach:Aversion therapy E.g., UCS (Antabuse) UCR(vomiting) UCS + CS (alcohol) UCR(vomiting) CS (alcohol) CR(unpleasant expectation-vomiting) A more recent version of aversion therapy is covertsensitisation. This is where an imagined associationwith the undesirable behaviour, e.g., if you wanted togive up eating chocolate imagine chocolate beingcovered in spiders. It is obviously more ethical toimagine something aversive, like vomiting or beingsmall electric shocks than to actually experience thesethings.
Treatments & therapies: Aversion therapy – evaluation(AO2) Aversion therapy depends on the person being treatedbeing prepared to undergo the aversive stimuli; an alcoholicmight simply think it’s the antabuse making them sick &can stop taking it; the association will be lost if the alcoholicstops taking the antabuse. It is arguably quite unethical as it causes some distress tothe patient (see covert sensitisation as an alternative); it hasalso been used controversially to treat sex offenders & as a‘cure’ for homosexuality. It can be abused & used as way ofcontrolling what society regards as unacceptable socialbehaviour. It has mixed results, with some studies showing it to beaffective, while others suggest that extinction of theaversive stimulus & spontaneous recovery occurs, I.e., theundesired or maladaptive behaviour returns over time.
Duker & Seys (2000) showed that self-harm in 41 children withlearning difficulties was reduced using aversion therapy (electric shocksadministered remotely if the individual began to self-harm). However,a long-term follow-up (108 months later) showed that in some of thechildren the self-harming behaviour had reappeared. Weinrott et al., (1997) used aversion therapy to treat young sexoffenders; the aversive stimuli were the negative social, emotional,physical, & legal consequences of sex offences. Physiological & self-report measures of deviant sexual arousal seemed to be reducedfollowing the treatment. Howard (2001) tested aversion therapy with a group of alcoholics &found that after the treatment patients felt confident that they couldresist alcohol in high risk situations were they would normally drink &that this effect was specific to alcoholic beverages. However, thetreatment was less effective with more long-term alcoholics. It can only be used to eradicate maladaptive behaviour, not introduce amore adaptive new one & only where a suitable aversive stimulus existsfor the maladaptive behaviour displayed. It does not solve the underlying problem, e.g., the cause of thealcoholism, so is not a long-term solution & works best if an alternative,adaptive behaviour is being reinforced alongside the aversion therapy.
Treatments & Therapies: Token Economies Token economy: This is based on the principles of operant conditioning;it aims to use positive reinforcement to encourage desirable behaviour. Whendesired behaviour is exhibited tokens are given; these tokens act as secondaryreinforcers & they can be exchanged for primary reinforcers (such as privileges &luxuries) when a sufficient number of tokens have been saved. The use of tokens as indirect rewards allows for immediate reinforcement ofappropriate behaviour, enabling patients to be positively reinforced straightawayeven though they cannot be given primary reinforcers continuously. Behaviourshaping can also be used, I.e., tokens can be used in an increasingly selectivemanner. Evaluation: Token economy reflects how the real world operates, I.e., we donot get primary reinforcers continuously but have to exchange money for thethings that we want. Lots of research suggest that token economies are effective; e.g., Ayllon & Azrin(1968) found it successful in reinforcing self-care in schizophrenic patients in apsychiatric hospital; Paul & Lentz (1977) showed improvements in self-care &pro-social behaviour using token economies in psychiatric hospitals; Petry et al.(2006) found it effective in treating alcoholics when tokens where entries to aprize draw were used as tokens; and Sindelar et al;. (2007) demonstrated similarsuccess with 120 cocaine users on a 12 week programme.
Token Economies They are cheap & easy to administer & can be more ethical thanother methods of modifying behaviour, as no distress is caused. However, token economies can lead to dependency wherepatients only produce the desired behaviour to receive a token. Once outside the institution tokens are less easy to administer; itcan be hard to transfer the token economy system to the outsideworld, as tokens are more subtle & often delayed & behaviouroften does not get so easily observed & rewarded. Token economies might not be used for the benefit of the patient,I.e., behaviour which is compliant might be rewarded rather thanbehaviour which is beneficial for the patient. Token economies do not address the underlying cause of theproblems, but modify behaviour. Patients with severe clinical conditions might be given tokens forthings which they should have automatically & which are basicrights; they should get certain primary reinforcers withouthaving to earn tokens to exchange for them: this is unethical.
Treatments & Therapies: Flooding Flooding: This is a treatment based on classical conditioning,most commonly used to treat phobias. It works on the principle that we cannot stay in a state of heightenedarousal, anxiety or stress for a prolonged time, eventually we will returnto a normal state. The patient is confronted to massive exposure to the object of their fear,causing much stress. However, if they endure this stress eventuallytheir arousal/stress will return to normal & they will associate theobject of their fear not with feeling stressed & anxious but with feelingnormal. For example, if you are scared of spiders you should place a large spideron your hand, or place your hand in a jar of spiders. This will initiallybe very unpleasant & your heart rate will increase dramatically, butafter a short time it should begin to return to normal & you will begin toassociate the spider not with feeling anxious & having racing heart rate,but with feeling calm.
Flooding Evaluation: Flooding can be very successful intreating simple phobias; however, it is less successfulwith more complex phobias, like agoraphobia. It can be stressful for the patient, but they do agree tothe procedure beforehand. If the patient withdraws half way through thetreatment it can make the phobia worse. Spontaneous recovery may be a feature, I.e., thephobia may return if the patient is not exposed to theobject of their fear for some time & is confronted withit again. It works best if there is regular exposure afterthe initial flooding.
Treatments & Therapies: SystematicDesensitisation Systematic Desensitisation: This is a treatment based onClassical conditioning The aim is to extinguish an undesirable behaviour (e.g., phobia) bysubstituting the response with something, e.g., relaxation: this is calledreciprocal inhibition, as 2 contrasting emotions cannot co-exists,you cannot be relaxed & scared at the same time. The treatment involves a series of steps, or hierarchies, you begin byimaging the object of your fear in a least threatening scenario, throughto the most, e.g., spider outside to spider on your arm. This is referredto as a hierarchy of fears. The patient is given relaxation training & techniques & asked to workthrough their hierarchy of fears in order, starting with the lowest; asthe patient imagines their fear they should also use their relaxationtechniques to combat the fear until it subsides: they then move on tothe next stage of the fear hierarchy.
Systematic Desensitisation Evaluation: This treatment has been very successfulwith specific phobias, but not with more complexphobias like social phobias & agoraphobia. It is not as stress inducing as aversion therapy &flooding (although to prove the systematicdesensitisation has worked an individual will need toconfront the object of their fear & be flooded). The patient has more control over their treatment asthey determine when they are sufficiently relaxed tomove to the next stage of the fear hierarchy. It requires the patient to imagine the object of theirfear vividly which they might not be prepared to do.
The Learning Approach:Gender Development See also Psychodynamic approach. Social Learning Theory & Operant conditioning offer explanations of genderdevelopment through observation, modelling, imitation of gender appropriatebehaviours in parents, peers, shaping & others & reinforcement, e.g., positivereinforcement in the form of praise & attention for ‘appropriate’ genderbehaviour & punishment for that deemed inappropriate, e.g. teasing, telling off. Children observe their parents as role models & may be encouraged to engagewith the same sex parent when performing stereotypical activities, such ashousework & repairing a car. Gender-appropriate behaviour is often encouraged from birth, e.g., choice ofclothes, names, décor of nursery/bedroom, type of toys given as presents. This approach suggests that a child’s biological sex determines the way they aretreated & the behaviours they display. Gender-stereotypical behaviours areencouraged through reinforcement & inappropriate gender behaviour ispunished. This punishment may be worse for boys who display femininebehaviour in front of their fathers (Langlois & Downs, 1980).
The Learning Approach:Gender Development Gender-stereotypical toys encourage gender-appropriate behaviour; e.g., dollsreinforce quiet nurturing behaviour in girls, whereas cars encourage noisy,physical play in boys. Underwood et al. (2004) investigated how boys & girls responded to a ‘difficult’play partner; there were few differences but boys tended to be more verballyaggressive & to socially exclude the partner more; girls used a wider range of non-verbal behaviours, incl. Glaring, rolling their eyes & being more negative about thepartner when they were absent (boys stereotypically seen as more aggressive; girlsmore prone to malicious gossip). The Learning approach suggests people make assumptions about & behaviourtowards others according to gender expectations. Golombok & Fivush (1994)suggest that male stereotypes=instrumental, I.e. making things happen,aggressive, active, competitive; female stereotypes=relational, concern forinteractions between people & how they feel, nurturing, passive, cooperative. These gender stereotypes seem to be repeated across cultures. NB., male traitstypically seem to be valued more highly than female ones. These gender stereotypes influence the behaviour that we see exhibited,the behaviour we observe, how we treat people & how they subsequentlybehave.
The Learning Approach: Gender Development - EvaluationPositive Aspects Negative AspectsThere is experimental support for the influence of available rolemodels, e.g., Bandura (see later).There are differences between boys & girls at birth & thesecannot be learned at this early stage; e.g., girls seem to be moresensitive to noise at birth; and new-born baby girls maintain eyecontact with a speaking adult for longer.Evans & Davies (2000) studied children’s books published in1997 and found that although male & female were roughlyequally represented, they were still somewhat stereotypical.Milburn et al. (2001) found that in computer clip art makes aremore often portrayed as active & non-nurturing.However, there are developmental similarities in girls & boysacross cultures, e.g., girls & boys develop gender identity at thesame age no matter where they are the world. Suchdevelopmental similarities cannot be explained across differentsocieties with different norms & values. If all gender behaviouris learned through imitation, modelling & reinforcement wewould not expect such similarities - as different cultures, withdifferent values, would reinforce different gender behaviours.Cordua et al. (1979) studied whether young children’s genderschemas (or gender script stereotypes) affected their memories.128 children aged 5-6 were shown films with males & females aseither doctors or nurses. It was found that gender-consistentcombinations (i.e., male=doctor/female=nurse) was well-remembered; conversely, male nurses & female doctorcombinations were less well-remembered & there was strongtendency to re-label the male nurse as a doctor, thus indicating agender schema in operation.Lytton & Romney (1991) conducted a meta-analysis of parents &their treatment of their children re. gender. They found that sex-typed behaviour was encouraged in both girls & boys (i.e.,children were treated in a gender stereotypical way according totheir sex), e.g., in leisure activities & interests. However, therewere also many similarities in the way that boys & girls wereraised & concluded that differences in reinforcement could notaccount for the degree of difference between girls & boys in theacquisition of sex-typed behaviour.
Positive Aspects Negative AspectsCordua et al. (1979) studied whether young children’s genderschemas (or gender script stereotypes) affected their memories.128 children aged 5-6 were shown films with males & females aseither doctors or nurses. It was found that gender-consistentcombinations (i.e., male=doctor/female=nurse) was well-remembered; conversely, male nurses & female doctorcombinations were less well-remembered & there was strongtendency to re-label the male nurse as a doctor, thus indicating agender schema in operation.The case study of David Reimer (the boy raised as a girl aftersurgical error resulted in the removal of his penis – seePhysiological Approach) suggests that being raised & reinforcedin a way that was counter to his original sex cannot make you the‘opposite’ sex. There seems to be more to gender behaviour thanjust nurture. Biological determinants of gender behaviour, suchas the presence or not of Y chromosome & levels of testosterone& oestrogen during development & beyond, cannot be ignored.Morgan (1982) found that girls with the heaviest TV viewing hadthe highest expectations of themselves. This might seem counter-intuitive, we expect tv to abound with gender stereotypes & weknow that children are responsive to them & model them (NB.,Bandura). However, there are increasingly large numbers offemale role models with professional status on television.Summary: The Learning Approach can explain many features ofgender development; we know that children do tend to imitatesame sex models, especially if they are high status & arereinforced, and parents – especially the same sex parent, as in theOedipus complex, play a vital role. However, it cannot be theonly explanation of gender development: biological factors areclearly very influential also.Cherney & London (2006) found a preference among children forown-gender toys, although this decreased with girls as they grewolder. Boys spent more time in leisure activities & girls spentmore time watching television & became more sex-typed as theygrew older, I.e., watched more female orientated programmes.Yanowitz & Weathers (2004) conducted a content analysis ofmale & female representation in undergraduate level textbooks.They found a slight bias towards men, but also many similaritieswith both genders being portrayed very positively. Thusmodelling is important & can have positive, as well as negativeinfluences.
2 Key Studies in Detail from The LearningApproachCan youdescribe &evaluate 2 keystudies fromthe following:One must beBandura, Ross& Ross (1961)Transmissionof aggressionthroughimitation ofaggressivemodels.And 1 other:Either: Watson& Rayner(1920)ConditionedEmotionalResponses.OR: Skinner(1948)Superstition inthe pigeon.OR: Pickens &Thompson(1968)Cocaine-reinforcedbehaviour inrats; effects ofreinforcementmagnitude &fixed-ratio size.
Bandura, Ross & Ross (1961) Transmission ofaggression through imitation of aggressive models Name: See above. Aim: To investigate whether exposure to a real-lifeaggressive model increases aggression in children;can aggression be acquired through modelling & arechildren more likely to imitate same-sex models. Method: 72 children from Stanford Universitynursery aged 3-6 (36 boys/36girls) were placed into1 of 2 experimental groups; the remaining childrenwere placed in the control group. In theexperimental groups the children saw either anaggressive or non-aggressive role model of eitherthe same sex or opposite. All the children werematched for physical & verbal aggression before theexperiment started. The children observed theaggressive model assemble a toy for 1 minute beforeattacking a bobo doll (punching it & hitting it on thehead with a rubber mallet etc.); the non-aggressivemodel simply assembled the toy for 10 minutes.The control group did not see any model. After 10minutes all the children were then deliberatelyannoyed to ensure they were all equally frustrated;this was done by taking them to a room with nicetoys & giving them only a short time to lay withthem before they had to stop. The children werethen taken to the experimental room containing justa bobo doll. They were then observed playing withthe bobo doll through a 1-way mirror for 20minutes. Generalisability: The children were allfrom US & from Stanford Universitynursery, so may not be entirelyrepresentative of the general targetpopulation. Reliability: Standardised procedure wasused, e.g., in terms of aggressive behaviour,verbal & physical displayed, punching,hitting bobo doll on head with mallet, ‘kickhim’, ‘pow’. The behaviour of the childrenwas also assessed by more than 1observer, togive high inter-rater reliability. Subjectivitywas avoided by agreeing beforehand onwhat counted as aggressive behaviour. Application to real life: The study wasinfluential in helping our understanding ofhow children acquire behaviour throughobserving others. This has implications formedia violence, film & game certification &the ‘watershed’ on tv. Validity: The experiment lacks someecological validity because the experiencewas very unusual for the children.
Bandura, Ross & Ross (1961) Transmission of aggressionthrough imitation of aggressive models Results: Children exposed to imitativeaggressive acts, I.e., where they observed anaggressive model (physical & non-verbalaggression) were significantly moreaggressive than those who did not receiveaggressive modelling. Both boys & girlsdisplayed more non-imitative aggressionafter observing the aggressive role model.Modelling aggressive behaviour was greater ifthe model was the same sex, although theeffect was more pronounced for boys. Bothsexes showed tendency to copy violentbehaviour, although this was stronger forboys; boys tended to imitate physicalaggression more, girls verbal aggression. Conclusion: Observation & imitation canexplain how we learn specific behaviourswithout obvious reinforcement. We have atendency to imitate sex-models more. Validity cont’d: The children had not seenbobo dolls before so would not know how toplay with them so their only reference forhow to play would be the models;nevertheless, they copied the models veryprecisely. The children may simply havebeen showing obedience to the adult & maynot copy older children. Ethics: The children modelled anti-socialbehaviour by being exposed to an aggressiverole model; it would have been better toexpose the children to a pro-social modelmodelling good behaviour. The childrenwere caused distress initially by having toyswithdrawn from them to make them allequally frustrated.
Watson & Rayner (1920) Conditioned emotionalresponses Name: See above. Aim: To investigate whether emotionalresponses, such as fear, could be conditioned(using principles of classical conditioning) Method: 9 month old infant called LittleAlbert was selected & assessed for hisemotional stability. He was unafraid of arange of stimuli, incl. a white rat and a rabbit.At 11 months he was presented with the whiterat again, this time, when he reached for it asbefore, the researchers struck a steel bar witha hammer behind him. This loud noisescared him. When Little Albert next reachedour for the rat the steel bar was struck again.This was repeated 5x, 1 week later. After 31days he was presented a range of objects.(Lab. Exp. IV=object of fear, rat etc;DV=emotional response to rat etc. UCS=loudnoise; UCR=fear; CS/NS=rat, cotton wooletc; CS by itself – CR=fear.) Generalisability: It is a single caseexperiment, so may be limited in terms ofgeneralising results – some replications ofthe procedure have failed to reproduce thefindings. Reliability: See above – also difficult torepeat exactly because of ethical issues. Application to real life: It can explainphobias & therefore treatments can be basedon classical conditioning. Validity: There would be no demandcharacteristics due to Little Albert’s age; hisbehaviour would not have been affected bythe presence of the researchers or from beingin a study. Sudden loud noises due inducefear, or at least alarm & surprise.
Watson & Rayner (1920) Conditioned emotionalresponses Results: By the 2nd trial Little Albert wascautious about the rat & a further 5 days laterhe cried in response to the rat & various similarobjects, incl. a rabbit, a seal pelt, a dog, cottonwool & Father Christmas beard (NB., hegeneralised his fears – stimulusgeneralisation). He maintained theseresponses 7 weeks after the start of the study.However, his fear showed a marked reductionin his level of fear towards these objects & hereached out to touch the rabbit. Conclusion: It is possible to classicallycondition the emotional response of fear,although this response seems to diminish inintensity over time, extinction begins to lessonfear. Ethics: Clearly Little Albert wascaused some distress; also he was dueto leave the nursery he was in shortlyafter the experiment ceased, so therewas no chance to recondition him toextinguish his fear & prevent any long-term effects. However, long-termdamage seems unlikely as the effects ofthe fear conditioning were alreadyreducing in intensity before he left thenursery.
Skinner (1948) Superstition in the pigeon Aim: to demonstrate that superstitious behaviours could be acquired by animals. Method/Procedure: 8 pigeons were given limited food to reduce their weight to75% of normal to ensure they were hungry. Each pigeon was then placed in aSkinner box for a few minutes each day & received a food pellet every 15 secondsregardless of its behaviour. The time interval between food pellet release wasincreased to 1 minute after several days of conditioning. Finally, the observedbehaviours were extinguished by stopping the release of the food pellets. In onepigeon food pellets were again released after 20 minutes of behaviour extinction. Results: 6 of the 8 pigeons engaged in repetitive behaviours between the releaseof food pellets, incl. turning anti-clockwise, hopping, head tossing & pendulumswings of the head. These behaviours were not exhibited before the experimentstarted & seemed entirely dependent on the food rewards. Increased delay in foodrelease (to 1 minute) made the behaviour quite frantic. Extinction of the newbehaviours was slow. The bird that acquired the hopping behaviour hopped10000 times without receiving food before extinction occurred. When the foodwas introduced at 15 second intervals the hopping behaviour quickly returned.
Skinner (1948) Superstition in the pigeon Conclusion: The pigeons seemed to behave as though the foodpellets they received depended upon the behaviour even thoughit did not (the food pellets were dispensed on a fixed intervalsystem, every 15 seconds or 1 minute). This is similar tosuperstitious behaviour in humans, e.g., not walking underladders, or having lucky mascots. Since the behaviour isreinforced intermittently, not continuously, it is difficult toextinguish & if extinction does occur, the behaviour can relativelyeasily be reconditioned (re-introduced).reinforcement. Validity: As the research was conducted on pigeons,generalising to humans has to be treated with some degree ofcaution because of the much higher level of sophistication ofhumans & more complex biological, social & psychologicalinteractions that occur with humans. However, as we haveevolved from animals & share many similar brain & behaviouralfeatures some parallels may be drawn.
Cocaine-reinforced behaviour in rats, Pickens &Thompson (1968) Aim: To investigate the effects of cocaine as a positive reinforcement for rats &how different doses & different fixed-ratio schedules affected respondingbehaviour. Method/Procedure: 3 albino rats were laboratory-reared with free access tofood & water. Each rat was fitted with an intravenous device that allowed it toself-administer a cocaine solution when a lever was pressed (continuously or afixed-ratio schedule). Results: A high behaviour response was achieved, i.e., the rats pressed thelevers to get the cocaine. When the fixed-interval between lever pressing &administering of cocaine was increased the rats simply pressed the leversquicker so that the total reinforcement per hour remained the same. However,when the dose increased the response decreased (the more you have in 1 go theless you crave – as the effects last longer). However, unlike food reinforcement,when the cocaine dose exceeded a certain amount there was an abrupt loss ofresponse behaviour. This does not indicate extinction, the cocaine was nolonger desired so the behaviour was exhibited to get the cocaine; rather thatwhen the high dosage was reached the rats were not able to respond, the effectsof the cocaine at that amount had incapacitated them (they were too high!).
Cocaine-reinforced behaviour in rats, Pickens& Thompson (1968) Conclusion: Cocaine reinforces behavioursignificantly, we will behave in characteristic ways toget more of it, but as the dosage increases, theresponse behaviour decreases. Validity/Ethics: The research was conducted on ratsso cannot necessarily be translated to humans, but ratsphysiology & behavioural responses not too differentfrom humans in this context. The research may havecaused distress to the rats, side-effects of cocaine etc.,but obviously not ethical to conduct this type ofresearch on human participants (why?)
1 Key issue from The Learning Approach(Behaviourism)The influence of role models onanorexia. OR:The influence of advertising onpeople’s behaviour. OR:The increase in female violencerelated to changing role models. OR:Media Violence
Learning theory & anorexia Anorexia nervosa mainly affects women - 90% - & age of onset is typically late teens-earlytwenties. For a diagnosis of anorexia the sufferer must be less than 85% of their normalbody weight, other symptoms might include loss of menstruation for 3 consecutive months(amenorrhea). Social Learning Theory=we have a tendency to imitate same sex models, especially if theyare seen as high status, or their behaviour is seen as reinforcing in someway (vicariousreinforcement). Celebrities are often praised for being thin & criticised for beingoverweight. We tend to model behaviour that is important to us, such as being liked,popular with members of the opposite sex – thin models seem to be popular with men.Women especially are under pressure in Western media to be thin. When people lose weight they are often complimented, this can be positively reinforcing –fitting into clothes we could not before might also be positively reinforcing. There is now a backlash against size 0 – this might be seen as a form of punishment, a wayof stopping obsessive concern over size. Are parents might provide unhealthy role models with regard to attitudes towards food. There are alternative explanations: one psychodynamic explanation is that of wanting tostay in a state of arrested development/pre-sexual. There are also biological explanations,such as problems with neurotransmitters like serotonin, or a structural problem with thehypothalamus (which regulates hunger, among other functions). Evidence supporting SLT is strong, e.g., Bandura, but it is not related directly to anorexia& his research arguably lacked ecological validity.
Learning theory & the influence of advertising Classical conditioning principles are applied to advertising, e.g., pairedassociation. Something that is naturally exciting, such as white waterrafting, might be paired with a particular product, e.g., deodorant – so thatwe associate the product with being exciting. Operant conditioning suggests that positive reinforcement changesbehaviour, e.g., if we get some kind of reward we might alter our behaviour,such as buying a product to get a prize or points on a store card. Advertisers can suggest that a product or lifestyle is rewarding, if we seeothers rewarded for buying that particular product, e.g., attracting membersof the opposite sex we might buy that product too (vicarious reinforcement –(SLT)). Role models might also influence behaviour – e.g., celebrity endorsement ofproducts (SLT). However, there are also social & psychodynamic explanations foradvertising, e.g., conformity, appealing to id part of personality etc.
Learning theory & increase of female violence There appears to be a rise in the number of crimes committed by women – atleast statistically (it might be that women are now more likely to be reported forviolent behaviour). SLT suggests that we model significant others, there are now more violent femalerole models in the media (as well as more pro-social female role models - seeearlier slides on gender). SLT suggests that we are more likely to imitate role models if we see themrewarded for their behaviour (vicarious reinforcement). This might be the casewith regard to violent female role models – female violence is no longerportrayed as deeply shocking & as having severe repercussions for the femaleconcerned, e.g., Lara Croft, ‘Kill Bill’. However, explanations might be socioeconomic – women have more political,social & economic freedom & are simply exercising these freedoms in the sameway as men, it is now easier, socially & economically, for women to get drunk &so sometimes be violent, just like men.
Learning theory & media violence SLT & operant conditioning are powerful arguments against too much violence beingportrayed in the media, especially if the consequences are seen as rewarding. In mostHollywood films, even the hero engages in frequent violence to get HIS way & get the girl –violence is rewarding & is carried out by someone we are supposed to admire & has status& prestige. Lots of research, e.g., Bandura shows how easily children model behaviour. However, not all research shows the pernicious effects of media violence. A naturalexperiment conducted by Charlton e al., 2000, on the island of St.Helena, found that thechildren who inhabited the island did not become more violent after being exposed tosatellite television where previously there had been none. One argument is that violent media simply reflects social violence, it holds a mirror up tosociety, it does not cause violence, and it is important to know everything that happens inthe world if we want to improve the world, not just know the good things. Finally, not everyone who is exposed to violent media models this violence & becomesviolent themselves, in fact most do not. Violent people tend to seek out violent media, suggesting the violence comes first. A desirefor violence might reflect a faulty id, or a biological problem, such as too muchtestosterone, or a personality problem - such as psychopathy.
Research Methods/How Science Works In this section for The Learning Approach (Behaviourism) you will need to beable to describe & evaluate a range of methodological issues, including: Observation as a research method – structured, naturalistic, covert, overt,participant & non-participant. Tallying procedures – qualitative & quantitative. Ethical guidelines for human & animal participants. Laboratory & animal experiments. Participant design.
ObservationsType Definition Advantage DisadvantageStructured Where observation is conducted in a semi-controlled environment, where apparatus mightreadily be available, e.g., childcare etc. &behaviour can be observed through 2-way mirroretc., e.g., Bandura (1961)There are greater controls, makingcausal conclusions easier to reach dueto fewer extraneous variablesaffecting what is observed; they arealso easier to repeat due to greatercontrols so are more reliable.Can lack validity because of thecontrived, controlled nature of thestructured observation.Naturalistic Observations take place in the participants’natural environment, e.g, if children=schoolplaygroundHave greater validity due to morenatural setting=more naturally-occurring behaviourCan lack reliability as are hard toreplicate; behaviour at 1 momentunlikely to be repeated exactly.This might be overcome by well-controlled, regular observations.Participant The observer is also a participant, they are partof the phenomena being observed, e.g.,observing gang membership by joining a gang.High validity because a ‘strange’observed is not influencing behaviour(no demand characteristics). Canunderstand data in a way non-participant cannot (why?).Difficult to maintain objectivity;hard to record behaviour & alsoparticipate in activities observing.Non-participantThe observer is not part of the observedsituation.More objective than participantobservation, able to concentrate moreon recording observed behaviour.May get demand characteristics,people ‘perform’ for the observer;data may not be fullyappreciated/understood by an‘outside’ observer.Overt Participants know they are beingobserved, & might know why also.Good ethically, informedconsent & right to withdraw notissues.Lack validity, people may actdifferently because they knowthey are being observed(demand characteristics)Covert Participants are unaware they are beingobserved.Greater validity due to more naturalbehaviour – participants more likely toact & behave naturally.The opposite ethical issues to overtobservation (NB., privacy not anissue if observation takes place in apublic place = public behaviour).
Laboratory experiments : a summary (seeCognitive Approach also) An IV is manipulated & the effect on DVmeasures. Experimental hypothesis explains what ispredicted (directional or non-directional). Experimental & control group compared Extraneous variables controlled for toenable a causal – cause & effectrelationship - to be proved, e.g.,situational & participant variables,experimenter bias & demandcharacteristics – standardised procedure& instructions. Concepts are operationalised, i.e., IV &DV. Careful sampling to avoid participantvariables. Can be matched pairs, repeated orindependent measures design. Tend to gather quantitative data Tend to reliable due to experimentalcontrols. Tend to lack ecological validity. May be low experimentalvalidity/credibility because ofcontrived/artificial nature of task (e.g.,Milgram?) Data gathered tends to be quite objectivebecause it is quantitative in nature,therefore, little need for elaborateinterpretation & also IV is often tightlycontrolled & well operationalised so littleinterpretation required. Can be generalised because sample canbe carefully selected & screened. Tend not to be ethical problems, easy tobrief & debrief participants, get informedconsent, participants can withdraweasily.