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A Brief Lecture on Behavior and Learning by Dr. Brouk

 

Introduction to Psychology

Brain & Behavior

Behavior & Learning

Consciousness and Sleep Disorders

Development

Emotions & Motivation

Memory

Methods in Psychology

Theories of Personality

Psychological Disorders

Causes Psychological Disorders

Therapy & Treatment

Sensation & Perception

Stress

 
 
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Learning is a relatively (moderately) permanent (fix) change in the organism’s behavior because of experience in the environment. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “Behavior is the way a person, animal, machine or substance acts, reacts or function.” Behavior is observable and measurable. These are examples of various behaviors

  • Admire
  • Admit
  • Advise
  • Advise
  • Apologize
  • Bake
  • Blink
  • Blush
  • Cough
  • Salivate
  • Pray
  • Relax
  • Shop
  • Smile
  • Startle/Jump
 
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Where Do Behaviors Come From?

Some behaviors we are born with (inborn behavior), and some other we learn through experience (learned behavior).

Psychological questions go back to Plato and Aristotle (who were two well-known Greek philosophers). One of these questions was where does knowledge come from? Are we born with it or do we learn it from our experiences?

Inborn Behaviors

Behaviors that we are born with and thus ARE NOT learned are called Unconditioned Responses (UR). These behaviors are automatic and involuntary. They are biologically based and are associated with the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).
Can you identify the unconditioned responses listed above? You are correct, if you listed the following:

  • Blink
  • Blush
  • Cough
  • Salivate
  • Startle/Jump
Learned Behaviors

We learn a behavior through experiences in our environment. Specifically through:

1. Observation

2. Consequences and Result of that Behavior

3. Association and Connection (that is, linking the behavior to other behaviors)

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1. Learning through Observation - Observational Learning

We often learn behaviors by watching and imitating people around us. This is termed observational learning.

   
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2. Learning through Consequences and Results of Behavior - Operant Conditioning

If the result of a particular behavior is positive, the likelihood of that behavior reoccurring is increased. In contrast, behaviors with negative consequences are less likely to reoccur (be repeated). This is the basis for Operant Conditioning.

     
Reinforcement and Punishment
Reinforcement

Reinforcement is the application of any consequence (or result) that will increase the likelihood (probability) of a desirable behavior happening again.
There are two types of reinforcements that aim to increase the likelihood of a desirable to reoccur.

  1. Positive - In positive reinforcement, something that is rewarding follows the desirable behavior to increase the likelihood (probability) of that behavior happening again.
  2. Negative - In negative reinforcement, something that is NOT rewarding is removed following the desirable behavior to increase the likelihood (probability) of that behavior happening again.
Punishment

Punishment involves any consequence (or result) that will decrease the likelihood (probability) of an undesirable behavior happening again.
There are two types of punishments that aim to decrease the likelihood of an undesirable to reoccur.

  1. Positive – In positive punishment, something that is not rewarding follows the undesirable behavior to decrease the likelihood (probability) of that behavior happening again.
  2. Negative – In negative punishment, something that is rewarding is removed following the undesirable behavior to decrease the likelihood (probability) of that behavior happening again.
 

Schedules of Reinforcement - How Is Reinforcement Delivered?

Continuous vs. Intermittent Reinforcement

Reinforcement can be continuous or intermittent (sporadic)
A. In continuous reinforcement schedule of reinforcement, the desirable behavior is reinforced every time it occurs.

B. In intermittent reinforcement schedule of reinforcement, only some of the desirable behaviors are reinforced. There are 4 basic types of schedules of reinforcement. Two of these reinforcements are interval (time) schedules.

  1. Fixed interval schedule – in this schedule, the desirable behavior is reinforced only after certain amount time has passed.
    For instance, in FI 8sec., the desirable response is only reinforced after 8 seconds has passed.
  2. Variable interval schedule – in this schedule, the desirable behavior is reinforced only after certain average of time has passed.
    For instance in VI 1hour schedule, the desirable response is reinforced every hour on the average.

The two others are ratio schedules. That is, the reward depends on the number of responses.

  1. Fixed ratio – in this schedule, reinforcement occurs after a certain number of responses.
    For instance in FR 5response, a psychology student will earn 10 points (the reward) for every 5-class attendance.
  2. Variable ratio – in this schedule, the desirable behavior is reinforced only after certain average of responses.
    For instance in VR 5, on the average every five sales is reinforced but number of sales might vary between 1 and 10.
   

 

 

 
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3. Learning through Association - Classical Conditioning

Through association and connection, we can learn to behave in a way that is very similar and sometimes identical to our inborn and involuntary behaviors (which are called Unconditioned Responses). Example of inborn and involuntary behaviors include:

  • Blinking Caused by a Foreign Object Approaching the Eye
  • Blushing Caused by Excitement
  • Salivating Caused by Putting Food in the Mouth
  • Startling/Jumping Caused by loud Noise

This process is referred to as Classical Conditioning and it is defined as:

“A conditioning procedure that through repeated pairing of a neutral stimulus with a stimulus that automatically causes a response, the neutral stimulus will become a Conditioned Stimulus and will cause a new response.”

A more in-depth explanation is:

“A conditioning procedure that through repeated pairing (association) of a neutral stimulus (something that originally does not cause a response) with a stimulus that automatically causes a response (called Unconditioned Stimulus); the neutral stimulus will become a Conditioned Stimulus and will cause a new response (called the Conditioned Response). The Conditioned Response is similar or identical to the Unconditioned Response.”

         

Three Questions to Help You Undertand the Concept of Classical Conditioning

  1. Which of the following pictures are Unconditioned Stimuli? Please explain why.
  2. Which of the following pictures are Unconditioned Responses? Please explain why.
  3. Which of the following pictures are Neutral Stimuli and through association could become Conditioned Stimuli? Please explain why.

Ringing Phone

Donuts

The See

 

 

 

The Excited Adults

Bakery Shop

The Excited Boy

 

 

 

The Ship Wreck

Salivation

The Sailor

 
An Example to Demonstrate Classical Conditioning
Donuts
Cause

Salivation

Stack of Doughnuts Causes Salivation

An Unconditioned Stimulus Causes Unconditioned Response

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Telephone Ringing

Causes

No Responses (Reaction)

The Phone Ringing Causes No Rsponse

Neutral Stimulus Causes No Response

 
 

Telephone Ringing

 

Paired with

Donuts

The Phone Ringing Paired with a Stack of Doughnuts Serveral Timese

A Neutral Stimulus Paired with An Unconditioned Stimulus Several Times

 

Telephone Ringing

 

Causes

Salivation

Phone Ringing Causes Salivation

Conditioned Stimulus Causes A Conditioned Response

 
Classical conditioning is “A conditioning procedure that through repeated pairing (association) of a neutral stimulus (the phone ringing) with a stimulus (a stacks of doughnuts) that automatically causes a response called Unconditioned Response (Salivation to a Stack of Doughnuts), the neutral stimulus (the phone ringing) will become a Conditioned Stimulus and will cause a new response called the Conditioned Response. Thus, the amount of salivation to the phone ringing is the Conditioned Response and it is similar or identical to the Unconditioned Response (the amount of salivation to the cake with frosting).
 
 
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