Learning Approach

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  • Learning Approach
    • Behaviourism
      • 5 things behavioural psychologists state
        • psychology is a science
        • psychologists should study observable behaviour
        • people have no free will (environment determines behaviour
        • when born our mind is a tabula rasa (blank slate)
        • there is little difference between human and animal minds
      • Ivan Pavlov
        • first formulated classical conditioning
          • learning to associate one thing with another so responding to something associated with something else
          • gives no consideration to thought processes
          • lots of evidence to support it
        • noticed dogs salivated in response to food so began ringing a bell before feeding them
          • found the salivated at just the sound of the bell as they associated it with food
          • it is a lab experiment which gives confidence in his findings
          • unclear as to whether we can extrapolate the findings to explain human behaviour
            • extrapolation is taking findings from one species and applying it to another
      • Watson and Rayner
        • Little Albert - showed a baby a rat and produced it again accompanied with a loud noise
          • the baby eventually got scared of the rat
      • B.F. Skinner
        • believed the best way to understand behaviour was to consider its consequences
        • formulated operant conditioning
          • operant conditioning is learning to associate consequences of behaviour
          • can be applied to the world around us because it happens all the time e.g. lottery
          • you can extrapolate the findings to humans
          • it ignores thought processes
        • said different types of reinforcement has different effects on the likelihood of behaviour being repeated
          • reinforcement is anything which has the likelihood of behaviour being repeated
            • positive reinforcement
              • consequences that are pleasant when they happen so increase the likelihood of behaviour being repeated
            • negative reinforcement
              • consequences that are pleasant when they stop and so increased likelihood of behaviour being repeated
            • punishment
              • consequences that are unpleasant when they happen
        • put a rat in a Skinner box and had it run round until it pressed a lever which stopped the current in the floor
          • eventually the rat learnt to press the lever immediately to stop discomfort
          • used a reinforcement schedule to follow up his research - used different ratio schedules for when food was dispensed
            • found unpredictable reinforcement was more successful for conditioning than continuous reinforcement
          • reliable as he repeated it many times and it was a lab experiment meaning it was controlled
    • Social Learning Theory
      • proposed by Albert Bandura
        • Bobo Doll experiment - had an experimental group watch adults play aggressively with bobo dolls and a control group watch adults play calmly with them
          • each group imitated the behaviour they saw
          • had an experimental group watch either people or fantasy characters being violent on tv and a control group watch relaxing behaviour
            • both groups imitated what they saw, but the experimental group were even more aggressive than those who watched the bobo dolls
          • lacks ecological validity - fake setting and children don't often sit and watch people play
          • lab experiment so it is controlled, and the independent variable affected the dependent variable so it was reliable
        • used a lab experiment methodology with an independent groups design
        • independent variable = behaviour seen
        • dependent variable = behaviour shown
      • we learn though observing and imitating others, especially if they appear to be rewarded for their behaviour
      • there are 5 key concepts linked with SLT
        • modelling
          • observation of a person performing particular behaviour
          • 2 types; live and symbolic
        • identification
          • when someone can relate to a model - the stronger they identify, the more likely they are to copy
        • vicarious reinforcement
          • learning likely consequences and adjusting subsequent behaviour
        • imitation
          • copying behaviour
        • mediational processes
          • mental processes which decide whether to copy or not
          • occur after the stimulus and before the response
      • we learn from our environment e.g. different cultures greet each other differently
      • more valuable that behaviourism because it implies we have thoughts rather than acting like robots
      • overlooks alternative explanations for behaviour which might be more valid e.g. boys are more aggressive due to testosterone

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