Learning (Psychology) Lecture notes by Imran Ahmad Sajid
LearningImran Ahmad Sajid, T.A., ISSG, UOP April, 2012
Definition • acquiring of knowledge (James E. Mazur). • Learning is relatively permanent change in behaviour brought about by experience (Rod Plotnik, 1989).Knowledge: Information in the mind, e.g. facts, ideas, truths, principles, objects, images
Forms of learning• Conditioning – Classical conditioning – Operant/operational/instrumental/functional conditioning• Cognitive learning – Latent learning – Observational learning
• Classical conditioning is a form of learning in which people (or any organism) learns to associate two stimuli that occur in sequence. • Classical conditioning occurs when a person forms a mental association between two stimuli, so that encountering one stimulus means the person thinks of the other.Condition: to make people or animals act or react in a particular way bygradually getting them used to a specific pattern of events.
Terminologies used• Classical conditioning was discovered by Ivan Petrovich Pavlov in 1900s.• Neutral Stimulus: a stimulus that, before conditioning, has no effect on the desired response.• Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS): a stimulus that brings about a response without having been learned.• Unconditioned response (UCR): a response that is natural and needs no training.• Conditioned Stimulus (CS): Once-neutral stimulus that has been paired with an unconditioned stimulus to bring about a response formerly caused only by the unconditioned stimulus.• Conditioned response (CR): a response that, after conditioning, follows a previously neutral stimulus.
Principles of Classical Conditioning Process1. The acquisition phase is the initial learning of the conditioned response—for example, the dog learning to salivate at the sound of the bell. Acquisition: the act of acquiring something
2. Extinction is used to describe the elimination of the conditioned response by repeatedly presenting the conditioned stimulus without the unconditioned stimulus.• If a dog has learned to salivate at the sound of a bell, an experimenter can gradually extinguish the dog’s response by repeatedly ringing the bell without presenting food afterward.
3. Spontaneous Recovery.• Extinction does not mean, however, that the dog has simply unlearned or forgotten the association between the bell and the food.• After extinction, if the experimenter lets a few hours pass and then rings the bell again, the dog will usually salivate at the sound of the bell once again.• The reappearance of an extinguished response after some time has passed is called spontaneous recovery.
4. Generalization• After an animal has learned a conditioned response to one stimulus, it may also respond to similar stimuli without further training.• If a child is bitten by a large black dog, the child may fear not only that dog, but other large dogs.• This phenomenon is called generalization.• Less similar stimuli will usually produce less generalization.• For example, the child may show little fear of smaller dogs.
5. Discrimination• The opposite of generalization is discrimination, in which an individual learns to produce a conditioned response to one stimulus but not to another stimulus that is similar.• For example, a child may show a fear response to freely roaming dogs, but may show no fear when a dog is on a leash or confined to a pen.
Application of Classical Conditioning• classical conditioning explains some cases of phobias, which are irrational or excessive fears of specific objects or situations.• classical conditioning explains many emotional responses—such as happiness, excitement, anger, and anxiety—that people have to specific stimuli.
• classical conditioning procedures are used to treat phobias and other unwanted behaviors, such as alcoholism and addictions.• To treat phobias of specific objects, the therapist gradually and repeatedly presents the feared object to the patient while the patient relaxes.• Through extinction, the patient loses his or her fear of the object.• In one treatment for alcoholism, patients drink an alcoholic beverage and then ingest a drug that produces nausea.• Eventually they feel nauseous at the sight or smell of alcohol and stop drinking it.
• Operant or Instrumental Conditioning is a type of learning in which voluntary behavior is strengthened if it is reinforced and weakened if it is punished.• Note: Skinner referred to this as Instrumental Conditioning/Learning• The term operant conditioning refers to the fact that the learner must operate, or perform a certain behaviour, before receiving a reward or punishment.
Edward L. Thorndike’s Law of Effect• This law states that behaviors that are followed by pleasant consequences will be strengthened, and will be more likely to occur in the future.• Conversely, behaviors that are followed by unpleasant consequences Thorndike’s Puzzle box will be weakened, and will be less likely to be repeated in the future.
B.F. Skinner Experiments• American psychologist B. F. Skinner became one of the most famous psychologists in history for his pioneering research on operant conditioning.• In fact, he coined the term operant conditioning.
• Beginning in the 1930s, Skinner spent several decades studying the behavior of animals— usually rats or pigeons—in chambers that became known as Skinner boxes.• Like Thorndike’s puzzle box, the Skinner box was a barren chamber in which an animal could earn food by making simple responses, such as pressing a lever or a circular response key.• A device attached to the box recorded the animal’s responses.
Principles of Operant Conditioning1. Reinforcement refers to any process that strengthens a particular behavior—that is, increases the chances that the behavior will occur again. – Positive reinforcement: a method of strengthening behavior by following it with a pleasant stimulus. – Negative reinforcement: Negative reinforcement is a method of strengthening a behavior by following it with the removal or omission of an unpleasant stimulus. 1. Escape: In escape, performing a particular behavior leads to the removal of an unpleasant stimulus. 2. Avoidance: In avoidance, people perform a behavior to avoid unpleasant consequences.
2. Punishment weakens a behaviour, reducing the chances that the behavior will occur again. – Positive: involves reducing a behavior by delivering an unpleasant stimulus if the behavior occurs. – Negative: involves reducing a behavior by removing a pleasant stimulus if the behavior occurs.
Types of Reinforcement and Punishment Positive Negative Punishment Reinforcement ReinforcementStimulus is Added Removed Added or removedDesired effect on Increases in response Increase in response Decrease inbehaviour strength strength response strengthExample Giving a raise for Taking an aspirin to Penalizing for good performance relieve a headache misbehaving leads leads to increase in leads to a higher future to a decrease in good performance likelihood of taking frequency of that aspirin behaviourstimulus Behaviour/action
3. Shaping is a reinforcement technique that is used to teach animals or people behaviours that they have never performed before.•• In this method, the teacher begins by reinforcing a response the learner can perform easily, and then gradually requires more and more difficult responses.• For example, to teach a rat to press a lever that is over its head, the trainer can first reward any upward head movement, then an upward movement of at least one inch, then two inches, and so on, until the rat reaches the lever.
4. extinction is the elimination of a learned behavior by discontinuing the reinforcer of that behavior.A behaviour learned is not always permanent.If a rate has learned to press a lever because it receives food for doing so, its lever-pressing will decrease and eventually disappear if food is no longer delivered.
5. Generalization and discrimination occur in operant conditioning in much the same way that they do in classical conditioning.• In generalization, people perform a behaviour learned in one situation in other, similar situations.• For example, a man who is rewarded with laughter when he tells certain jokes at a bar may tell the same jokes at restaurants, parties, or wedding receptions. Generalizing Pakhtoons or Punjabis or Sardars etc.
• Discrimination is learning that a behavior will be reinforced in one situation but not in another.• The man may learn that telling his jokes in church or at a serious business meeting will not make people laugh.
Application of Operant Conditioning• Parents• Teachers• Behavior therapists use shaping techniques to teach basic job skills to adults with mental retardation.• Therapists use reinforcement techniques to teach self- care skills to people with severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, and use punishment and extinction to reduce aggressive and antisocial behaviors by these individuals.• to treat stuttering, marital problems, drug addictions, impulsive spending, eating disorders, and many other behavioral problems.
Comparison of Classical & Operant ConditioningClassical Conditioning Operant Conditioning• Learning occurs by • Learning depends on pairing of two what the learner stimuli, no matter does—learning occurs what the learner when a reinforcer consistently follows a does. particular response.• Responses learned in • Responses are regularly Classical Conditioning followed by are stereotyped and reinforcement or reflexes. reward.
Cognitive Approaches to Learning• Cognitive learning theory is an approach to the study of learning that focuses on the thought processes ( ) that underlie learning.• Rather than concentrating solely on external stimuli, responses, and reinforcements, Cognitive-Social Learning theorists focus on the unseen mental processes that occur during learning.
1. Latent Learning• Latent learning is learning in which a new behaviour is acquired but is not demonstrated until some incentive is provided for displaying it.Latent: hidden; present but unexpressed
Tolman’s Maze ExperimentMaze: puzzle made of connecting parts.
• Rats: one maze trial/day• One group found food every time (red line)• Second group never found food (blue line)• Third group found food on Day 11 (green line) – Sudden change, day 12• Learning isn’t the same as performance
• Cognitive-map –a mental representation of spatial locations and directions.
2. Observational Learning• Learning through observing the behaviour of another person called a model (Robert S. Feldman., 2005. p.211).•
a. Attention• First, the learner must pay attention to the crucial details of the model’s behavior.• A young girl watching her mother bake a cake will not be able to imitate this behavior successfully unless she pays attention to many important details—ingredients, quantities, oven temperature, baking time, and so on.
b. Retention• Retention—the learner must be able to retain all of this information in memory until it is time to use it.• If the person forgets important details, he or she will not be able to successfully imitate the behavior. Retention: the ability to remember things
c. Reproduction• Third, the learner must have the physical skills and coordination needed for reproduction of the behavior.• The young girl must have enough strength and dexterity to mix the ingredients, pour the batter, and so on, in order to bake a cake on her own.
d. Motivation• Finally, the learner must have the motivation to imitate the model.• That is, learners are more likely to imitate a behavior if they expect it to lead to some type of reward or reinforcement.• If learners expect that imitating the behavior will not lead to reward or might lead to punishment, they are less likely to imitate the behavior.