PSY 2012 General Psychology Chapter 6: Learning Samuel R. Mathews, Ph.D. Associate Professor The Department of Psychology The University of West Florida Which is learned? • Sneezing when dust gets in your nose • Blinking your eye when a puff of air hits it • Drooling when you taste a lemon • Increasing heart rate when you see a spider What is NOT “learning?” • Instincts: behaviors that occur as a result of the organism’s genotype • Reflexes: behaviors that occur as a result of an automatic reaction to some environmental change or condition Defining Learning • Relatively permanent change in behavior or mental state based on experience – Relatively permanent change: Can be altered with future learning – Behavior: Some response to a situation or event – Mental state: knowledge, attitude, belief, strategy Theories of Learning • Behavioral or Environmental Theories: – Change in the individual’s behavior or mental state is in response to something in the environment – By controlling the environment, one’s learning can be controlled – Only those behaviors we can directly observe are worthy of study Theories of Learning • Cognitive Theories of Learning: – Change in the individual’s behavior or mental state is based on internal mental processes not directly observable – The environment only indirectly influences our behaviors and mental states – Internal states and processes are legitimate objects of study Behavioral or Environmental Theories of Learning • Habituation: after repeated exposures to a stimulus, our response to it decreases – What did we discuss in Sensation/Perception that is related to this? • Exposure Effect: preference for a stimulus to which we have had previous exposures – Seeing a face in a crowd that belongs to someone in the class who we do not know Behavioral or Environmental Theories of Learning: Classical Conditioning • Identify a stimulus response relationship that occurs naturally (e.g. eye blink in response to a puff of air) • Identify a stimulus that does not elicit the response naturally (e.g. a tone) • Present the tone immediately prior to the puff of several times • When the tone elicits the blink without the puff, then Classical Conditioning has occurred Classical Conditioning • The puff of air eye blink reflex did not have to be taught or conditioned – The puff of air then, is the Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS) – The eye blink is the Unconditioned Reflex (UCR) – The UCSUCR reflex requires NO LEARNING Classical Conditioning • The tone did not initially elicit an eye blink. – The tone eye blink connection was neutral at the onset of the conditioning • Following the conditioning trials, the tone was conditioned to elicit the eye blink • The tone became the Conditioned Stimulus (CS) and the eye blink the Conditioned Response (CR). • CS (tone) CR (eye blink). Classical Conditioning • Alex has a startled reaction to the sound of a loud “pop.” immediately before the loud pop, a light flashes. After several times, Alex has a startled reaction to the flash of light. • What is the UCS? • What is the UCR? • What is the CS? • What is the CR? Classical Conditioning • Sam fed his dog, Olga, each morning. He would pour food from the container into her food bowl and Olga would smell the food and come to the kitchen to eat. Soon, the noise made by the food when Sam poured it into the bowl would bring Olga to the kitchen to eat her food. • What was the UCS? • What was the UCR? • What was the CS? • What was the CR? Classical Conditioning • Terminating the behavior—Extinction – When the Conditioned Stimulus is presented repeatedly without the Unconditioned Stimulus, the Conditioned Response ceases to occur. – If Sam made the sound of Olga’s food being poured into the bowl and did not put food into the bowl Olga would stop running to the kitchen when she heard the sound. Classical Conditioning • Recovering the behavior—Spontaneous Recovery – If the CS is withheld for some time and reintroduced, the CR returns at some level – If Sam stops making the noise of Olga’s food dropping in her food bowl for some days and they makes the noise again, Olga is likely to come. She will most likely return more slowly and perhaps only look into the kitchen to check for food. Classical Conditioning • Stimulus Generalization: the elicitation of the Conditioned Response by similar but different stimuli – In Alex’s example above, if Alex had a startle reaction to a different light he would be demonstrating stimulus generalization. Classical Conditioning • Stimulus Discrimination: the organism produces the Conditioned Response to one Conditioned Stimulus but not to a similar but different stimulus. – Alex (see above) startles to a flash of red light (CS) but not to another light of similar intensity but different color. Operant Conditioning: Learning New Behaviors • B.F. Skinner’s “Radical Behaviorism: – The factor controlling an organism’s behavior was the consequence of that behavior. – There was no need to hypothesize internal processes. – The only appropriate object of study is overt, observable behavior – The laws governing “learning” via operant conditioning were the same for all organisms. Operant Conditioning: Learning New Behaviors • Key concepts in Operant Conditioning – Reinforcement: “Any condition that follows and strengthens a behavior.” (Zimbardo, et al., 2006, pg. 236) • Positive Reinforcement: an event that occurs after a response that increases the likelihood of that response occurring again • Negative Reinforcement: removal of an aversive condition that increases the likelihood of that response occurring again – Extinction: similar to Extinction in Classical Conditioning—removing the reinforcement tends to terminate the behavior Reinforcement • Jennifer’s father decided to give her a trip to Paris if she made the dean’s list. She made the dean’s list and received the trip to Paris. – Is this positive or negative reinforcement? – Why do you think so? Reinforcement • David had a habit of leaving his keys in his car when he filled up with gasoline. Once he locked his keys in his car. He had a buzzer installed such that it sounded when the keys were in the car and the engine was turned off. When he removed the keys, the buzzer stopped. – Is this positive or negative reinforcement? – Why do you think so? Reinforcement Contingencies • Contingencies reflect conditions that must be met in order for reinforcement to be dispensed; • The reinforcement must be meaningful to the organism (e.g. food for a dog) • The reinforcement must follow the behavior; Reinforcement Contingencies: Timing and Schedules of Reinforcement • Continuous reinforcement: the reinforcement is administered following each behavior; – Excellent for initial learning of new behaviors; – Problems: • Habituation to the reinforcer: the reinforcement loses its reinforcing qualities • Satiation: the organism becomes glutted with the reinforcer. Reinforcement Contingencies: Timing and Schedules of Reinforcement • Intermittent Reinforcement: periodic administration of the reinforcement. – Maintains behaviors with fewer reinforcement trials following initial learning; – More resistant to extinction Reinforcement Contingencies: Timing and Schedules of Reinforcement • Ratio Schedules: based on the number of responses before a reinforcement is administered. • Fixed Ratio: reinforcement is contingent on a certain number of responses and that number is constant. As the number of responses approaches the required number, the rate of response increases • Variable Ratio: the number of responses for which a behavior will be reinforces varies. Typically some average number is maintained over trials. The rate of responding tends to be consistent. Reinforcement Contingencies: Timing and Schedules of Reinforcement • Alexander works at a manufacturing plant and is paid a certain amount for every 35 units he produces. • Upon which schedule is his pay based on a fixed or variable ratio? • Lucy likes to play the slot machines in the casino. She never knows how many times she will play before a payoff. • Is her winning based on a fixed or variable ratio? Reinforcement Contingencies: Timing and Schedules of Reinforcement • Interval Schedules: Based on the amount of time between reinforcement. The first response following the minimum time is reinforced. – Fixed Interval: reinforcement is contingent on the first response following a set amount of time. Rate of behavior increases slightly as the interval approaches. – Variable Interval: the amount of time between reinforcement is typically varied around some average. In uncontrolled settings, the variance is not controlled around an average. Reinforcement Contingencies: Timing and Schedules of Reinforcement • Damon receives $24.00 each hour he works and is paid every week for 40 hours work. • Is this a fixed or variable interval schedule? • Elecia is a supervisor in a technology development firm. She makes unscheduled visits to the office in which her staff works. Her staff members never know when Elecia will arrive. • Is this a fixed or variable interval schedule? Food and Money: Primary and Secondary Reinforcers • If the reinforcer is based on a natural biological need or drive it is a primary reinforcer – Food, Water, Sex, Oxygen • If the reinforcer is a related to but in reality not based on a natural biological need, it is a secondary or conditioned reinforcer – Money, Praise, Grades Doing what I like for Doing what I Do Not Like to Do • The Premack Principle: – Using a desired or high frequency behavior to reinforce a less desirable or lower frequency behavior; • If you do your chores, you can go to the movies with your friends; • If you complete your paper assignment early, you can enjoy the weekend before it is due. Using the Stick instead of the Carrot: Punishment • Punishment: any condition that follows and reduces the likelihood of a behavior – Positive Punishment: a condition that occurs following a behavior and reduces the likelihood of that behavior – Negative Punishment: removal of a desirable condition following a behavior that reduces the likelihood of that behavior. Using the Stick instead of the Carrot: Punishment • Alison’s parents take away her instant messaging service to get her to study and improve her grades. – Is this positive or negative punishment? • Simone was placed on restriction for violating her parents’ curfew. – Is this positive or negative punishment? Punishment vs. Reinforcement • Punishment does not usually result in long term behavioral change; • Punishment does not provide a vehicle for building a more desirable behavior; • Reinforcement gives the reinforcing individual more control over others’ behavior; • Punishment typically leads to escape behavior; Something to help you remember: • Reinforcement always increases the likelihood of the behavior; • Punishment always decreases the likelihood of the behavior; • Positive means doing or giving something following the behavior • Negative means stopping or taking something away. Problems for thought: • Jamal wanted his dog to learn to walk on a leash. In order to train the dog Jamal bought a “choke” collar that constricted the dog’s neck when the dog ran too fast. • Is this an example of positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, or negative punishment? • Why? Problems for thought • Aaron’s parents wanted him to improve his grades. They decided they would allow him to stay out an extra hour on Saturday night if he made the A-B honor roll. • Is this an example of positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, or negative punishment? • Why? The Cognitive Revolution • Two events marked the transition from a radical behavioral or environmental perspective on learning to one that involved cognition – Noam Chomsky published a critique of Skinner’s perspective on language development: • Skinner proposed that all language was learned through conditioning; • Chomsky proposed that the high degree of creativity, diversity, and inconsistency in any individual’s language negated a strictly behavioral approach The Cognitive Revolution – The development of the computer as a way to process information: • Led to the recognition that information can be transformed in representation, processed, and reproduced in the original form; • Researchers and scholars used the computer as a metaphor for conducting research on the mental processes viewed as inaccessible by behaviorists. The Cognitive Revolution • Gestalt Psychology (Kohler): – Saw problem solving as the culmination of mental processes that created representations of the problem situation; – Behaviorists lacked explanations of “insight” learning; • Social Learning Theory (Bandura) – Individuals could learn a behavior by observing others engaging in the behavior and being reinforced; – Individuals form a mental representation of the behavior prior to practicing the behavior. Cognitive Psychology: Learning and Mental Processes • Cognitive Psychology covers much: – Memory – Problem Solving – Decision Making – Intellectual Skills These aspects of the human condition will follow in the next chapters.