Psychology (Learning) AQA GCSE

Psychology revision cards for learning.

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Learning is a relatively permanent change in behaviour that is due to experience.

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Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning is the type of conditioning where we learn to associate a new stimuli with a previously done behaviour. For example....

 A Cat purrs when it see's food.

Whenever food is present the electric tin opener goes on.

Eventually after enough incidences with both the tin opener and the food the cat would learn to associate the tin opener with food.

Hence the cat will purr when the tin opener is used.

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Pavlov's dogs

A: Pavlov was checking digestion in dogs. The study was not originally related to conditioning.

P: He presented the dogs with food in a bowl several times, So that eventually the dogs would salivate even ti an empty bowl. He then changed the stimulus to a bell to see if dogs would salivate when the bell is rung.

F: Eventually the dogs did salivate when no food was present and the bell was rung.

C: Classical conditioning can be used to broaden known behaviours to new stimuli.

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Unconditional response (UCR)

A UCR is a behaviour over which one has no control. A behaviour that is automatic if you will.

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Unconditional stimulus (UCS)

Anything that causes an unconditioned response.

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Conditional stimulus (CS)

A CS is a stimulus that causes a does not cause an unconditioned response and so is presented with unconditioned stimulus so as to generate new conditional responses.

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Conditional response

A conditional response is a response that occurs naturally when the conditioned stimulus is present.

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Neutral Stimulus

A neutral stimulus is a stimulus that produces no specific response but when presented with an unconditioned stimulus it becomes a conditioned stimulus.

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Extinction is where the conditioned stimulus is presented continously without the unconditioned stimulus and so the response becomes less and less until is dissappears completely.

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Spontaneous recovery

After extinction, if a delay is used then the conditioned stimulus is presented again then the conditioned stimulus often re-appears.

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This is when a stimulus similar to the original occurs and the response is still triggered.

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This is when a the conditioned stimulus is used several times and then other stimuli which are similar to it are used but with no unconditioned stimuli present eventually they can discriminate inbetween the original stimuli and any imposteres.

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Watson & Rayner (1920): Little albert

A: To see if somebody could become phobic of an object through use of classical conditioning.

P: Little Albert an 11 month old boy, was presented with a white rat and allowed to play with it. When he played with the rat a metal bar was struck against the floor generating a noise which scared albert. This repeated whenever Albert tried to play with the rat.

F: The researcher stopped striking the metal bar and gave albert the rat to play with Albert was scared and tried to crawl away.

C: Albert learned to associate the rat with fear through operant conditioning. This also generalised with other white objects.

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Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning is where we learn to associate behaviours with given effects for example.

You make pancakes, they taste delicious, you make pancakes again.

Operant conditioning unlike classical conditioning is not about broadening previously known stimuli to new situations, it is about generating entirely new behaviours.

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Thorndike (1898)

A: to see the effect of operant conditioning on animals.

P: A cat was put in a cage and food wwas placed outside the cage. The cat wandered around the cage until eventually it knocked off the latch that was keeping the cage door locked. It then went outside the cage ate the food and then the researchers returned it to it's cage.

F: Each time the cat did this there was less and less time before it escaped again because it had learned to associate the behaviour of knocking the latch with reward of getting food.

C: Even animals can learn new behaviours through operant conditioning.

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Thorndike's Law of effect

Thorndikes law of effect states that....

If a behaviour leads to pleasant circumstances it will be learned and repeated.

If a behaviour leads to unpleasnat circumstances it will not be repeated.

The consequnece must occur very soon after the initial action.

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Positive reinforcement - This is when a behaviour is encouraged through actively rewarding it.

Negative reinforcement - When behaviour is used to stop something unpleasnat or unwanted happening.

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Punishment is a consequence which makes behaviour less likely to occur.

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Behaviour Shapong

This is where reinforcement is used to create completely new behaviours and not just generalise old responses.

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Skinner (1938)

A: To see if new behaviours could be shaped and maintained purely by consequences.

P: Skinner placed an animal in a box and when the animal pressed a lever a food pellet was released.

F: Once the animal discovered that the lever released food they continually repeated behaviour.

C: Behaviour can be shaped and maintained purely through conditioning.

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Systematic desensitisation

This is where we use a hierarchy of fear in order to reduce or remove a phobia.

For Example......

If you have phobia of heights you would exposed to stimuli which get progressively more and more powerful. It would go something like this...

Step ladder



Cliff face

empire state building.

And then you would eventually lose your fear of heights because the response would become extinct.

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This is where the phobic is exposed to the most fearful situation staright away. Then because a fearful response cannot be maintained by the human body it is extinguished.

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Aversion therapy

This is where the behaviour we are trying to remove becomes associated with an unpleasant consequence.

For example an alcholic is given a drug which makes them feel sick.

the patient is given this with alcohol and thusly learns to associate alcohol with nausea and stops drinking.

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Token economy

This is where a person who is trying to get rid of a behaviour is rewarded when they do a behaviour which opposes the unwanted the behaviour or is punished by removal of tokens when they commit the behaviour and thusly learn to stop the behaviour. The tokens they are given can be redeemed for prizes.

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