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1. Classical conditioning is about learning though establishing through association between different events and stimuli. We learn because of the consequences of our…
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  • 1. Classical conditioning is about learning though establishing through association between different events and stimuli. We learn because of the consequences of our actions. If we do something that brings pleasant consequences, we are likely to do it again. Operant conditioning Operant conditioning is about learning through consequences of behaviour and was introduced by Thorndike and then developed further by Skinner. Edward Thorndike was one of the first scientists to look into learning by consequences. He has noticed how cats could learn by this technique. He devised a “puzzle box” which he placed the hungry cat into. The box contained a lever that released the door. On the outside of the box he placed some tasty food which the cat could smell. The cats wanted to get out of the box to get at the food. Their task was to learn how to do this. The box was set up so that if the cat pulled on a piece of string inside the box, a catch would release and the door could be opened via a lever-press mechanism. The cat moved around the box and eventually by accident pressed the lever and was able to get at the tasty food. On the first trial the cat took a long time to escape. Each time the cat was placed back in the box it escaped more and more quickly. Thorndike believed that it had learnt through trial and error. From this study he created the theory of law and effect Question What made the cat want to push the lever?
  • 2. SKINNER’S OPERANT CONDITIONING Beginning in the 1930’s, Skinner started his experimentation on the behaviour of animals, was building on the work of Thorndike. Skinner controlled his experiments by using “Skinner boxes.” The Skinner box was a contraption that would automatically dispense food pellets and electric shocks. Skinner believed that the learning he observed in his Skinner boxes could apply to human behaviour. He called this learning operant conditioning. Operant conditioning can be described as behaviour adjustments as a result of greater or lesser negative or positive reinforcement and punishment. Skinner devised a box known as Skinners Box This is a special cage (called, in fact, a “Skinner box”) that has a bar or pedal on one wall that, when pressed, causes a little mechanism to release a food pellet into the cage. The rat is bouncing around the cage, doing whatever it is rats do, when he accidentally presses the bar and -- hey, presto! -- a food pellet falls into the cage! In no time at all, the rat is furiously peddling away at the bar, hoarding his pile of pellets in the corner of the cage. The food is the positive reinforcer which means that the rat is more likely to repeat the behaviour. Behaviour followed by a reinforcing stimulus results in an increased probability of that behaviour occurring in the future. THE PRINCIPLES OF OPERANT CONDITIONING Operant conditioning says that we learn because of the consequences of our actions. If we do something that brings pleasant/positive consequences, we are likely to do it again. If we do something that gives us a negative consequence we are less likely to do that again. Three types of reinforcement (consequences): Positive, Negative & Punishment
  • 3. Operant conditioning is based on the principle that behaviours occurs through learning consequences. It is a form of conditioning in which the organisms behaviour is ( be it human or animal) is moulded by the use of reinforcement ( reward ) or punishment. Skinner introduced some key terms that are still used today to explain how operant conditioning works. They are as follows: • Punishment of climbing ladders • Negative Reinforcement of going to school • Positive reinforcement of a fear of the dark • Positive reinforcement- the addition of something nice ( e.g. a reward) that increases the probability of that behaviour being repeated. • Negative reinforcement- the removal of something aversive that increases the probability of that behaviour being repeated. • Positive punishment- the addition of something aversive that decreases the probability of that behaviour being repeated. • Negative punishment- the removal of something nice that decreases the probability of that behaviour being repeated 1. Positive reinforcement occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by a favorable stimulus (commonly seen as pleasant) that increases the frequency of that behavior. In the Skinner box experiment, a stimulus such as food or sugar solution can be delivered when the rat engages in a target behavior, such as pressing a lever.
  • 4. 2. Negative reinforcement occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by the removal of an aversive stimulus (commonly seen as unpleasant) thereby increasing that behavior's frequency. In the Skinner box experiment, negative reinforcement can be a loud noise continuously sounding inside the rat's cage until it engages in the target behavior, such as pressing a lever, upon which the loud noise is removed. 3. Positive punishment (also called "Punishment by contingent stimulation") occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by an aversive stimulus, such as introducing a shock or loud noise, resulting in a decrease in that behavior. 4. Negative punishment (also called "Punishment by contingent withdrawal") occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by the removal of a favorable stimulus, such as taking away a child's toy following an undesired behavior, resulting in a decrease in that behavior.
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