Psych Short Answer Prep

Benjamin Fairhurst
Short Answer Prep
16.Give an example of how one could test an absolute threshold (using any sense of your
choosing). Be sure to describe the steps you would use to carry out the testing. Explain how you
would identify the threshold (draw and label a figure to illustrate this part)
Answer : In my experiment, I would have a participant sit in a chair with a pair of headphones
on. In this experiment, I would play sounds varying in Hertz units until the participant could
clearly detect a stimulus. By starting this experiment at very low levels of pitch and increasing it
slightly each interval, the experiment would show the absolute threshold for the perception of
audible sound. Absolute threshold means the minimum intensity required to perceive a stimulus
and in this case, the ear would finally be able to pick up the sound at about 20 hz.
17.How is auditory pitch encoded according to place theory?
Answer : Pitch is encoded by frequency and location in the cochlea. Following place theory, low
frequency waves move and displace hair cells in the cochlea that are near the tip while higher
frequencies displace hair cells near the base. This helps the brain encode auditory pitch and
decide wether it is high or low pitch.
18.For each of the following stimuli, identify whether you would expect habituation or
sensitization to follow stimulus repetition and why:
a. gun shots - I believe that sensitization would follow the repetition of this stimulus because it is
a threatening stimulus. Because it is a threatening stimulus, we can expect an increase in
behavioural response.
b. traffic noise - This stimulus in non-threatening and as a result we can expect to see a decrease
in behavioural response after repeated stimulation.
c. cricket song - This stimulus in non-threatening and as a result we can expect to see a decrease
in behavioural response after repeated stimulation.
d. nearby car alarm - This stimulus has the capability of being threatening and as a result we can
expect to see heightened behavioural response to the stimulus.
19. You regularly eat lunch at exactly 12pm. After months of timing your lunch to noon (based
on your wrist watch), you forget to bring your watch to campus with you one day. When you feel
hunger pangs, you look at a campus clock and discover that it is exactly 12pm. Diagram out this
conditioning scenario, identifying all the pieces of the classical conditioning scenario: neutral
stimulus, unconditioned stimulus, unconditioned response, conditioned stimulus, conditioned
Answer : Hunger (US) —> Eating Lunch (UR)
Noon (NS) —> Nothing
Noon (NS) : Hunger (US) —> Eating Lunch (UR)
Noon (CS) —> Eating lunch (CR)
20. You notice that your pet dragon seems to reflexively breathe fire whenever startled by a loud
noise. Inspired, you decide to create the ultimate smore machine. Harnessing your dragon’s
reflex, you repeatedly present marshmallows immediately before startling the dragon with loud
noises. After many repetitions, the presence of the marshmallow alone causes your dragon to
breathe fire, and voila! Toasted marshmallows. Diagram out this conditioning scenario,
identifying all the pieces of the classical conditioning scenario: neutral stimulus, unconditioned
stimulus, unconditioned response, conditioned stimulus, conditioned response
Loud noise (US) —> Breathing fire (UR)
Marshmallow (NS) —> Nothing
Marshmallow (NS) : Loud Noise (US) —> Breathing fire (UR)
Marshmallow (CS) —> Breathing fire (CR)
21. Jimmy wants to teach a chipmunk in his backyard to eat out of his hand. To accomplish this,
he first leaves peanuts on the ground near the picnic table in his yard. Each afternoon, he sits
quietly at the table, watching while the chipmunk approaches the peanuts and disappears with its
treat. Later, he puts the peanuts on the table surface itself, so that the chipmunk must approach
even closer to get access to the food. After some time, when the chipmunk comes readily onto
the table for the peanuts, Jimmy starts putting the peanuts in the flat palm of his hand, so that the
chipmunk must approach his hand to access the food. By gradually shifting how close the
chipmunk must come to receive its reward, what technique is Jimmy employing? Consider the
end phase of training, when the chipmunk is eating out of Jimmy’s hand. Name the three main
parts of the operant conditioning procedure: The discriminative stimulus, The response, The
reinforcing stimulus.
Answer : Jimmy is using a tactic called shaping to make the chipmunk more comfortable with
his presence and finally eating out of his hand. Shaping means small changes to reinforce closer
and closer approximations of the desired behaviour. The small changes, in this experiment, are
moving the peanut closer to his hand with a positive effect each time. This results in the
chipmunk eating out of his hand which is the desired behaviour. The discriminative stimulus in
this case is Jimmy. He represents that a reward or punishment is available. The response is
wether the chipmunk comes and gets the peanut or not and the reinforcing stimulus is the peanut
which is a positive reinforcement.
22. The library wants Corey to return his books on time. To accomplish this, the library can fine
Corey for returning late books. However, the librarians realize they can frame the same
consequence in four possible different ways: For framings a-d, identify the type of consequence
involved (i.e. positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, or negative
a. “You will receive a fine, if you return your book late” - This is positive punishment because
in this case, you are applying something negative to reduce behaviour. In this case, the
negative aspect is the fine and the bad behaviour is bringing in books late.
b. “You will lose money, if you return your book late” - This is an example of negative
punishment because it implies that you will lose something good in order to change behaviour.
The good thing you ar elosing is money and the behaviour is bringing books back late.
c. “You will NOT receive a fine, if you return your book on time” - This is an example of
negative reinforcement because it shows that it will remove something bad if the behaviour is
corrected. Negative reinforcement works by taking away something bad if behaviour is
d. “You will save more money, if you return your book on time” - This is an example of positive
reinforced because you are promised something good if behaviour is changed.
23. Explain Thorndike’s law of effect, and how his work with puzzle boxes helped him to
develop it. What aspect of Thorndike’s law of effect did Skinner later reject?
Thorndike’s law of effect states that behaviours leading to a positive consequence are ‘stamped
in’ or strengthened within the individual while behaviours that result in negative consequences
are ‘stamped out’. Skinner countered this later on by saying that behaviour occurs because it is
reinforced not just because of the possible consequences.
24. Compare and contrast classical and operant conditioning.
Classical conditioning can be simply defined as when we learn that a stimulus predicts another
stimulus. Operant conditioning is when we learn that a behaviour leads to a certain outcome. The
comparison between these two is that they are both associative learning techniques meaning that
it is the learning of pairings of events. However they do this in different fashions.
25. You decide to train your pet parrot to say “Polly wants a cracker” every time you present
your pet parrot with a cracker. To reward the behaviour, the parrot is given the cracker as a
reward after each successful utterance. Based on this scenario, name the following operant
conditioning components:
a. discriminative stimulus - You training it to say something specific like “Polly wants a
cracker”. You are the stimulus because it presents the possibility of a reward or consequence
b. operant response - The bird saying “Polly wants a cracker”
c. reinforcing stimulus - The positive reinforcement of receiving a cracker.
d. Explain what shaping is and why it might be useful in this context?
Shaping is used to reinforce closer and closer approximations of the designed behaviour. It’s
useful when behaviour is difficult or low probability and will take work to achieve.
26. Name and explain two disadvantages of using punishment.
There are 3 main disadvantages in the use of punishment. I will focus on two. Firstly,
punishment takes constant monitoring. If punishments are not being carried out on a regular
interval when negative behaviour is committed, then the punishment has little effect on the
behaviour. Secondly, punishments cause emotional distress and damage. Punishments cause fear
and anger in the participant and can result in anger towards the one trying to train.
27. Explain the bobo doll study and how it demonstrates vicarious learning.
The bobo doll study was a study to prove vicarious learning which is learning of consequences
(operant learning) without having to experience the consequences oneself. In this study, children
in 3 groups were shown different videos of adults being aggressive towards a bobo doll. In the
first group, children were shown adults being aggressive towards the doll and receiving treats
and praise. In the second group, the children were shown the same aggression but the adult was
scolded and punished for the aggression. In the third video, it was neutral with no praise or
scolding. When the groups were told to interact with the Bobo doll after watching the videos,
group 2 showed much less aggression towards the doll in fear of receiving a punishment. The
conclusion is that people can learn from others without having to learn the behaviour through
consequence or reward themselves.
28. Compare and contrast somnabulism and REM behaviour disorder.
The comparison between somnambulism and REM behaviour disorder is that they are both sleep
disorders. They result in loss of muscle paralysis during sleep and therefore allow the sleeper to
move around. However, they occur in much different ways. Somnambulism is common with
young children and occurs in slow wave sleep. They are able to get up and walk around which is
why it is also called sleep walking. REM behaviour disorder occurs commonly in older men.
Normal REM paralysis does not occur which enables these individuals to act out their dreams.
29. Explain why extinction is not the same thing as “unlearning” the original association.
Extinction and “unlearning” of the original association are two very different things. The main
reason that extinction is not the same as “unlearning” is because extinction does not mean that
the original association is completely lost and “unlearnt”. Extinction means that the specific
association is no longer used by the individual but still leaves the opportunity for spontaneous
recovery of the association which means that individuals quickly relearn and utilize the early
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