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GRE PSYCH (Learning)


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relatively permanent or stable change in behaviour as the result of experience.
E.L. Thorndike
suggested the "Law of Effect", which was the precursor of operant conditioning
Law of Effect
postulates a cause and effect chain of behaviour revolving around reinforcement. People do what rewards them and stop doing what doesn't bring some reward.
Kurt Lewin
developed "theory of Association", which was a forerunner of behaviourism.
Theory of Association
association is grouping things together based on the fact that they occur together in time and space. Organisms associate certain behaviours with rewards and certain cues with certain situations. This idea is what Pavlov later proved experimentally.
Ivan Pavlov
Nobel prize for work on digestion. Accidentally discovered the concept now called classical conditioning when working with dogs.
Classical conditioning
aka Pavlovian conditioning. Involves teaching an organism to respond to a neutral stimulus by pairing the neutral stimulus with a not-so-neutral one. Pavlov's experiment with dogs salivating over sound of assistant's footsteps, then a light.
John B. Watson
expanded ideas of Pavlov and founded "school of behaviourism".
School of behaviorism
Learning, like all behaviour, could be explained by stimulus-response chains and conditioning is the key factor in developing these chains. Only objective and observable elements are of importance to organisms and to psychology.
B.F. Skinner
conducted first scientific experiments to prove the concepts in Thorndike's Law of Effect and Watson's idea of the causes and effects of behaviour. Operant conditioning. Later went further in books Walden Two and Beyond Freedom and Dignity by discussing control of human behaviour rather than rat behaviour.
Operant Conditioning
aka instrumental conditioning. Idea that behaviour is influenced primarily by reinforcement. Skinner used rats and "skinner box" in his experiments.
Skinner box
device used to prove that animals are influenced by reinforcement. box that is bare on the inside except for a lever and a hole through which food pellets are inserted. Rats repeated behaviours that won them rewards and terminated behaviours that did not.
Unconditioned stimulus (UCS)
not-neutral stimulus. e.g. food in Pavlov's experiments with dogs. Without conditioning, the stimulus elicits salivation response.
Conditioned stimulus (CS)
neutral stimulus that is paired with the UCS. Has no naturally occurring response, but it is conditioned through pairings with a UCS. e.g. light that is paired with food to elicit the salivating response.
Unconditioned response (UCR)
naturally occurring response to the UCS
Conditioned Response (CR)
response that the CS elicits after conditioning. Same as the UCR (e.g. salivation in response to both food and light).
simultaneous conditioning
UCS and CS are presented at the same time.
higher-order conditioning/second-order conditioning
conditioning technique in which a previous CS now acts as a UCS. e.g. using light as UCS after the light reliably elicited saliva in dogs. Food would no longer be used in the experiment, but now, the light would be the UCS. The light could be paired with a bell (CS) until the bell alone elicited salivation.
forward conditioning
pairing of CS and UCS in which the CS is presented before the UCS. Two types: "delayed" and "trace"
delayed conditioning
type of forward conditioning in which the presentation of the CS begins before that of the UCS and lasts until the UCS is presented
trace conditioning
type of forward conditioning in which the CS is presented and terminated before the UCS is presented
backward conditioning
CS is presented after the UCS is presented. e.g. food presented, then light. Has been proven ineffective. In fact, it accomplishes "inhibitory conditioning"
inhibitory conditioning
later the dogs have harder time pairing light and food even if they were presented in a forward fashion
aka differential reinforcement of successive approximations. process through which experimenter rewards rats with food pellets for even being near the lever and then rewards behaviours that bring them successively closer to pressing the lever.
primary reinforcement
natural reinforcement. something that is reinforcing on its own without the requirement of learning. e.g. food and water
secondary reinforcement
learner reinforcer. e.g. money, prestige, token economy. Are often learned through society.
positive reinforcement
type of reward or positive event acting as a stimulus that increases the likelihood of a particular response. Some subjects are not motivated by rewards because they don't believe or understand that the rewards will be given.
negative reinforcement
reinforcement through the removal of a negative event (increases the occurrence of a behaviour). The stimulus is the removal of something negative. Not punishment! 2 differences: -ve reinforcement encourages certain behaviours, while punishment discourages certain behaviours; -ve reinforcement entails removing a negative event, while punishment entails introducing a negative event.
continuous reinforcement schedule
every correct response is met with some form of reinforcement. Facilitates the quickest learning, but also the most fragile learning.
partial reinforcement schedule
not all correct responses are met with reinforcement. May require a longer learning time, but once learned, these behaviours are more resistant to extinction.
fixed ratio schedule
partial reinforcement schedule in which reinforcement is delivered after a consistent number of responses. e.g. power of drug addiction. Because the ratio is fixed, the behaviour is vulnerable to extinction.
variable ratio schedule
partial reinforcement schedule in which learning takes the most time to occur, but is least likely to become extinguished. Reinforcements are delivered after a different number of correct responses every time. Ratio cannot be predicted. e.g. slot machines
fixed interval schedule
partial reinforcement schedule that does little to motivate an animal's behaviour. Rewards come after the passage of a set period of time, regardless of any behaviours from the animal. e.g. salaried employeed and tenured professors
variable interval schedule
partial reinforcement schedule in which rewards are delivered after differing time periods. Second most effective strategy in maintaining behaviour. e.g. waiting for a bus.
token economy
artificial mini-economy usually found in prisons, rehab centers, or mental hospitals. Individuals are motivated by secondary reinforcers, tokens in this case. Desireable behaviours are reinforced with tokens, which can be cashed for more primary reinforcers.
required for learning. Individuals can be motivated by "primary/instinctual drives", "secondary/acquired drives", or an "exploratory drive".
primary drive
aka. instinctual drive. e.g. hunger/thirst
secondary drive
aka acquired drive. e.g. money or other learned reinforcers.
exploratory drive
motivation simply to try something new or to explore one's environment
Fritz Heider
creator of "Balance theory"
Balance theory
theory of motivation claiming that people desire to be balanced (to maintain homeostasis) with respect to their feelings, ideas, or behaviours. Called into question by the fact that people often seek out stimulation, novel experience, or self-destruction.
Charles Osgood and Percy Tannenbaum
creators of "congruity theory"
Congruity theory
theory of motivation claiming that people desire to be balanced (to maintain homeostasis) with respect to their feelings, ideas, or behaviours. Called into question by the fact that people often seek out stimulation, novel experience, or self-destruction.
Leon Festinger
creatory of "cognitive dissonance theory"
Cognitive Dissonance theory
theory of motivation claiming that people desire to be balanced (to maintain homeostasis) with respect to their feelings, ideas, or behaviours. Called into question by the fact that people often seek out stimulation, novel experience, or self-destruction.
drive-reduction theory
theory of motivation claiming that people desire to be balanced (to maintain homeostasis) with respect to their feelings, ideas, or behaviours. Called into question by the fact that people often seek out stimulation, novel experience, or self-destruction.
Clark Hull
proposed that "performance = drive x habit", meaning that individuals are first motivated by drive, and then they act accordingly to old successful habits. They will do what has worked in the past to satisfy they drive.
Edward Tolman
proposed that "performance = expectation x value" (aka "expectancy-value" theory"). Idea here is that people are motivated by goals that they think they might actually meet. Another factor is how important the goal is.
Expectancy-Value Theory
performacen = expectation x value
Victor Vroom
applied expectancy-value theory to individual behaviour in large organizations. Those who are lowest on the totem pole do not expect to receive company incentive, so they do little to motivate them.
Henry Murray and David McClelland
studied the possibility that people are motivated by a "need for achievement (nAch)"
need for achievement (nAch)
motivator that may be manifested through a need to pursue success or a need to avoid failure. Either way, the goal is to feel successful.
John Atkinson
suggested a theory of motivation in which people who set realistic goals with intermediate risks feel pride with accomplishment and want to succeed more than they fear failure. But because success is so important, they are unlikely to set unrealistic or risky goals or to persist when success is unlikely.
Neil Miller
proposed the "approach-avoidance conflict"
approach-avoidance conflict
state one feels when a certain goal has both pros and cons. Typically, the further one is from the goal, the more one focuses on the pros, but the closer on is to the goal, the more one focuses on the cons.
theory that individuals are motivated solely by what brings the most pleasure and the least pain
Premack principle
idea that people are motivated to do what they do not want to do by rewarding themselves afterward with something they like to do. e.g. young child may be rewarded with dessert after eating vegetables
part of motivation. Person must be adequately aroused to learn or perform.
Donald Hebb
postulated that a medium amount of arousal is best for performance.
Yerkes-Dodson effect
For simple tasks, the optimal level of arousal is toward the high end. For complex tasks, the optimal level of arousal is toward the low end, so that the individual is not too anxious to perform well. The optimal level of arousal for any task, however, is never at the extremes. Inverted U-curve, with lowest performance at the extremes of arousal
any event that an organism reacts to. First link in a stimulus-response chain
stimulus discrimination
opposite of "stimulus generalization". Ability to discriminate between different but similar stimuli. e.g. doorbell vs. telephone ring
stimulus generalization
opposite of "stimulus discrimination". Making the same response to a group of similar stimuli. e.g. all fire alarms
failure to generalize a stimulus
response learning
form of learning in which one links together chains of stimuli and responses. One learns what to do in response to certain triggers. e.g. leaving a building in response to a fire alarm
perceptual learning
aka concept learning. Learning about something in general rather than learning-specific stimulus-response chains. e.g. learning about history in general rather than any particular response. Leads to formation of cognitive maps, rather than simple responses
cognitive maps
Tolman's experiments with animals forming these rather than simply escape routes
aversive conditioning
uses negative reinforcement to control behaviour. Animal is motivated to perform a behaviour in order to escape or avoid a negative stimulus.
escape conditioning
teaches animal to perform a desired behaviour to get away from a negative stimulus
promotes extinction of undesireable behaviour. After the behaviour is performed, the punishment is presented. Some have shown that severe punishment extinguishes undesirable behaviour, but many including Skinner argue that it is ineffective in the long run because it carries with it too many negative effects.
autonomic conditioning
evoking responses of the autonomic nervous system through training
state dependent learning
what a person learns in one physiological state is best recalled in that state.
reversal of conditioning. Goal is to encourage an organism to stop doing a particular behaviour. e.g. using operant conditioning, parents can reduce temper tantrums in children by not giving into, or reinforcing, the child's behaviour. In classical conditioning, could teach a dog to disassociate the car from the vet by taking it on frequent trips.
latent learning
takes place even without reinforcement. Learning is revealed at some other time.
incidental learning
accidental learning. Unrelated items are grouped together. Opposite of "intentional learning". e.g. pets associate car with vet
linking together a series of behaviours that ultimately result in reinforcement. One behaviour triggers the next and so on. e.g. learning the alphabet
decreasing responsiveness of an extinguished response, even in the absence of further conditioning or training.
classical conditioning concept referring to an animal's inability to infer a relationship between a particular stimulus and response due to the presence of a more prominent stimulus
increased sensitivity to the environment following the presentation of a strong stimulus
experiments in which an appratus allows an animal to control its reinforcements through behaviours, such as bar pressing or key pecking. The animal is shaping its own behaviour.
social learning theory
posits that individuals learn through their culture. People learn what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviours through interacting in society.
specific concept in "social learning", in which people learn and behave by imitating others.
Albert Bandura
modeling experiment with Bobo doll and children's aggression.
obervational learning
act of learning by watching
John Garcia
classical conditioning experiments in which it was discovered that animals are programmed through evolution to make certain connections. Evolution imposed limitations on associations they could make. Studied conditioned nausea with rats and found that nausea was perceived to be connected with food or drink, but not a neutral stimulus like light.
Garcia effect
fact that humans can become sick only one time from eating a particular food and are never able to eat that food again. Connection is automatic due to evolution, so it needs little conditioning. Especially strong in children.
M.E. Olds
performed experiments in which electrical stimulation of pleasure centers in the brain were used as positive reinforcement. Animals would perform the behaviour to receive stimulation. Evidence against the drive-reduction theory and other theories of homeostasis
Hull-Spence theory
animals learn to respond differently to different stimuli. Theory of "discrimination learning".
continuous motor task
easier to learn than discrete motor tasks. e.g. riding a bicycle is a continuous motion that, once started, continues naturally.
discrete motor task
harder to learn than continuous motor taks. Divided into different parts that do not facilitate the recall of each other. e.g. setting up a chessboard.
positive transfer
previous learning that makes it easier to learn another task later.
negative transfer
previous learning that makes it more difficult to learn a new task later on
age and learning
humans primed to learn between ages of 3 and 20 (the school years). From 20 to 50, the ability to learn remains fairly constant. After 50, the ability to learn drops.

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