psychology unit 2 learning approach

notes covering all of the learning (behaviourist) approach

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Key Assumption- behaviour is measued buy using s+r

  • Early behavioural theorists believed that we could set up a stimulus and observe it. And that we could also measure its response.
  • This means that behaviour can be studied scientifically.
  • Thorndike (1900) based his theory on the idea of the stimulus and response approach.
  • A stimulus can be given to an animal and the response to the stimulus monitored.
  • Behaviour is difficult to study and draw scientific conclusions. So we single out a specific behaviour and see what leads to it and what can stop it.
  • EG- rat presses a lever to get food pellet. The rat will learn that it gets food only when the light turns green and not when it turns red.
  • Scientist saw they needed reliable data, so they looked at measurable aspects of behavior and scientific methodology.
  • All human mental actions and physical responses are conditioned.
  • This is Thorndike’s “Law of Effect”.
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our environment shapes out behaviour in may differ

  •  Watson said that our behaviour comes from conditioning and reinforcement, from certain stimuli in the environment.
  • Environment (nurture) shapes out behaviour not inherited characteristics (nature).Behaviour arises from experiences, theorists assume this from studying what causes an action (stimulus) and the action (response) 
  • Early behaviourists believed that inherited characteristics don’t cause behaviour and that actions don’t come from brain activity or inherited abilities but past experiences. 
  • EG- if a baby babbles “mmm” a mother will respond with “mummy” giving the child attention (reinforcement) the child is likely then to repeat the sound and eventually learn to talk. 
  • Punishment does the opposite to reinforcement when shaping behaviour, people are less likely to repeat the behaviour.
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Classical Conditioning

  • Classical conditioning is how a response is associated with a stimulus to cause conditioning.
  • A stimulus is something that causes a response; the response is either a reflex or automatic behaviour.
  • The responses are involuntary behaviours.
  • Ivan Pavlov (1849) used operating theatres exclusively for animals to conduct his experiments in.
  • The theatres were kept to the highest possible standard, this is because Pavlov realised if the animals suffered or in distress his results would not be reliable results.
  • Pavlov deducted that a dogs responses were in anticipation of a stimulus.
  • CC argues that there is an association between a neutral stimulus (something that doesn’t get a response) and an exsisting unconditioned stimulus which does.
  • The stimuli are then presented together a number of times. When the neutral stimulus elicits the response on its own, it is then a conditioned stimulus and a conditioned response.
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