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Classical and Operant Conditioning


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An entertaining and fresh look at Classical Conditioning, plus a simplifying framework for operant conditioning.

Published in: Education, Lifestyle, Technology
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Classical and Operant Conditioning

  1. 1. Classical Conditioning Kent Van Cleave, Ph.D.
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>I will tell you how I classically conditioned a baby squirrel. </li></ul><ul><li>We will discuss some ways you get classically conditioned. </li></ul><ul><li>I will tell you about how Watson classically conditioned an emotional response… </li></ul><ul><li>…and how Watson took his technique to the marketplace. </li></ul><ul><li>You will truly understand classical conditioning. </li></ul>
  3. 3. How I classically conditioned a squirrel <ul><li>We found an infant squirrel in back yard. </li></ul><ul><li>Went to squirrel rescue sites online to see best way to raise him. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Fed with syringe and puppy formula; initially, five times a day. </li></ul>
  5. 5. The setup… <ul><li>All mammals have a reflex called the gastro-colic reflex. </li></ul><ul><li>When they eat, they have a reflexive urge to excrete. </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>The squirrel rescue sites add that mother squirrels clean their babies after feeding to stimulate that reflex. </li></ul><ul><li>This is necessary, they state, to prevent the baby from developing fatal obstructions. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Procedure <ul><li>I would get the squirrel out of his cage… </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Then I would feed him… </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Then I would wash him with a warm, wet paper towel. </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>As he grew, the feeding schedule lightened up. </li></ul><ul><li>Soon I was feeding him three times a day, though he was eating more. </li></ul><ul><li>I crushed up Cheerios and mixed into the formula… </li></ul><ul><li>… and began putting cracked nuts and whole Cheerios in his cage. </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>The solid foods began disappearing, and one morning he refused his formula. </li></ul><ul><li>Then he chewed the end off of the syringe! </li></ul><ul><li>At this point, he was weaned. </li></ul>
  12. 12. The knockdown… <ul><li>Recalling what Kretch, Rozenzwig, Diamond and others learned about environment and brain development, I continued to get the squirrel out of his cage several times a day to play. </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>But a strange thing started happening… </li></ul>
  14. 14. Every time I would get him out of his cage, he would poo in my hand!
  15. 15. Hmmmm…. <ul><li>I thought about this for a while, and then I remembered a similar situation a Russian physiologist found himself in a century earlier. </li></ul><ul><li>Ivan Pavlov… </li></ul>
  16. 16. Pavlov was studying the gastric function (and salivation) of dogs. He externalized a salivary gland in each of his dogs, and collected the saliva for analysis. To trigger salivation, he blew a meat powder with chili powder into their mouths.
  17. 17. But he noticed that they also salivated from the sound of footsteps of his technicians on the platform on which the dogs were placed—before they were given meat powder. Initially calling this “psychic secretions”, he set out to find out why they did this.
  18. 18. Pavlov had discovered classical conditioning… <ul><li>Meat powder (UCS) Salivate (UCR) </li></ul><ul><li>Add to this event which comes just before or at the same time… </li></ul><ul><li>Footsteps (CS) (CR) </li></ul><ul><li>Meat powder (UCS) Salivate (UCR) </li></ul><ul><li>An association gets made between the footsteps and salivation… </li></ul>
  19. 19. Back to the squirrel… <ul><li>Feed (UCS) Excrete (UCR) </li></ul><ul><li>Add to this event which comes just before or at the same time… </li></ul><ul><li>Get out of cage (CS) (CR) </li></ul><ul><li>Feed (UCS) Excrete (UCR) </li></ul><ul><li>An association gets made between getting the squirrel out of the cage and excretion… </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>Fortunately, when the CS is presented repeatedly without the UCS… </li></ul><ul><li>… the association weakens and the conditioned response becomes extinct. </li></ul>
  21. 21. What are some examples of when YOU get classically conditioned?
  22. 22. <ul><li>John Watson, and his graduate student, Rosalie Rayner, used the same paradigm in the U.S. to condition an emotional response. </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>Unfortunately, Watson was smitten by his lovely assistant… </li></ul><ul><li>When his, errrr, indiscretion was discovered, his academic career was over. </li></ul><ul><li>So he divorced his wife, married his assistant, and went into advertising! </li></ul>
  24. 24. Watson’s genius… <ul><li>Watson created an advertising campaign that has been used down to the present day </li></ul><ul><li>The paradigm that he used – conditioned emotional response – is now more widely used than ever. </li></ul>
  25. 26. The campaign… <ul><li>Baby (UCS) Awwwwww! (UCR) </li></ul><ul><li>Add to this event which comes just before or at the same time… </li></ul><ul><li>Baby powder (CS) (CR) </li></ul><ul><li>Baby (UCS) Awwwwww! (UCR) </li></ul><ul><li>An association gets made between the baby powder and the Awwwwww! response… </li></ul>
  26. 27. Copycats…
  27. 28. Why is this such a powerful approach? <ul><li>When cognitive sales approaches are used, the attempt to influence us is overt, and we are likely to counter-argue. </li></ul><ul><li>For products with low differentiation, like beer and insurance, cognitive persuasion is not likely to be effective, anyway, in part because of brand loyalty – another concept that Watson pioneered. </li></ul><ul><li>With conditioned emotional responses, the persuasion is covert – we are not aware that we are being influenced. </li></ul>
  28. 29. Operant Conditioning <ul><li>Whereas classical conditioning is a passive paradigm, operant conditioning is an active paradigm. We “operate” in order to receive some reward or avoid some punishment. </li></ul><ul><li>With classical conditioning, the response comes after the stimulus. </li></ul><ul><li>With operant conditioning, the response comes first. </li></ul>
  29. 30. Operant Conditioning <ul><li>With operant conditioning, we may use behavioral contingencies with the goal of increasing a behavior. We “reinforce” the behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>We also may use behavioral contingencies with the goal of decreasing a behavior. In this case, we “punish” the behavior. </li></ul>
  30. 31. Operant Conditioning <ul><li>With operant conditioning, too, there are contingencies that we can add, and there are contingencies that we can take away. </li></ul><ul><li>Think math. The + of addition also is evaluated as “positive”, and the – of subtraction also is evaluated as “negative”. </li></ul><ul><li>Both of these options are available for either reinforcement or punishment. </li></ul><ul><li>Be careful about the connotation of negative, however. Adding something that someone does not like is still positive, even though they will evaluate it as negative. </li></ul>
  31. 33. Give me examples, please. <ul><li>Positive reinforcement </li></ul><ul><li>Negative reinforcement </li></ul><ul><li>Positive punishment </li></ul><ul><li>Negative punishment </li></ul>
  32. 34. Schedules of Reinforcement