Learning Theory How youth learn and are motivated to learn Definition of Learning Theory What is “learning theory” and why is it included in the PreService workshop? A. B. Learning theory is included in the pre-service workshop because it is the foundation upon which the Teaching-Family Model has been built. Many of the skills which will be discussed in other sections are based on these fundamental learning principles. Learning theory attempts to account for behavior in terms of observable behaviors and their antecedents and consequences. Learning theorists do not deny the contribution of genetics, biology or internal dynamic causes to behavior, but are simply less interested in these because they are difficult to observe and control. Learning Theory Basic assumptions of learning theory: 1. 2. 3. 4. Learning theory focuses on behaviors, i.e. observable events, described in language free from inferences about the meaning or significance the behaviors may have for the individual.( Concepts such as defenses, unconscious impulses and personality traits are not considered by learning theory.) The learning theory model attacks problem behaviors directly. The learning model views all behaviors as subject to the same psychological principles. Learning approaches recognize the importance of past events in the development of learned behaviors. However, programs for behavior change always deal with current events in the environment which are maintaining the problem behaviors. Why is learning theory or any theory important? The kind of theory you have about why behavior occurs affects the strategy you will select in trying to deal with problem behaviors: Example: Nine-year old Paul has been identified by his teacher as "hyperactive." A mental health team met to discuss Paul's case. Each had his or her own theory about the source of Paul's problems and strategies for how the problem should be handled: a. b. c. The psychiatrist said the Paul's hyperactivity was a symptom of "minimal brain dysfunction" and should thus be treated with medication, special education, and therapy sessions The social worker indicated that she felt that Paul's problem lay in his family and prescribed family counseling The school psychologist (a latent behavior therapist) said, "No. Let's look at Paul's behavior in the school environment. What is Paul doing to be labeled hyperactive? When does he do these things? What happens when he does? Let's work within the school environment to change the contingencies supporting these behaviors." How new behaviors are learned A. REINFORCEMENT Reinforces (or positive consequences are events following a behavior which increases the probability that the behavior will occur again. A behavior has been reinforced by something only if it increases in frequency; thus, a rein forcer is defined by its effect on behavior. Learning Theory Examples Situation Response Immediate Consequence Long-Term Effect Father and child are shopping in a department store on a hot afternoon and both are very tired The child (uncharacteristically) follows father around the store quietly without complaining Father turns to the child and says, "You've been such a good girl. Let's go and buy an ice cream and sit down for a while. On future shopping excursions, the child is more likely to follow her Father quietly. Father is watching the Super bowl game on TV Two of the kids are playing in the same room and are being extremely noisy Father gives them each a quarter so that they will go to the store and not interfere with his TV The kids are more likely to play noisily when father is watching TV in similar situations in the future Impact of Reinforcers These two example illustrate how desirable and undesirable behavior may be strengthened through the use of reinforcement. For many behaviors that occur frequently, there are a number of reinforcers occurring. Behavior/ Reinforcement Behavior Possible Rein forcers Attend a football game See our team win Cook dinner Compliments Going to Dairy Queen Eating a sundae Crying Empathy Working long hours Boss's praise Eating less Fit into a smaller size Praising someone Praise from others Fighting Peer praise and winning Going to work Salary with which to buy things Pouting Attention/winning something Presenting Having high ratings from participants Going crazy Not having to take care of responsibilities/ being taken care of Behavior/ Reinforcement Behavior Going to work on any particular day Possible Rein forcers Getting salary Getting work done -- feeling of accomplishment Getting to see co-workers you enjoy being around Thinking others see you as responsible Keeping up to date on organization happenings Family Teachers visiting with a teacher of a youth in their home Gaining information about youth's progress to help in working with him in school areas Getting compliments from teacher about working with youth Anticipating getting high ratings from this teacher on the consumer evaluation Feeling of accomplishment for getting teacher visit done Getting out of the home for a while and enjoying different stimuli and people Anticipating approval from supervisor REMEMBER: When Treatment Planning If the above behaviors on the left do not increase or maintain over time, then the "possible rein forcer?' on the right may not be reinforcing at all. If the behaviors on the left actually decrease, then the "possible rein forcer" may actually be a punisher. One person's rein forcer may be another person's punisher. Maximizing the Effectiveness of Reinforcers Select rein forcers that are readily available. b. Present the rein forcer as quickly as possible after a response is made. A basic principal of behavior is that immediate reinforcement is more effective than delayed reinforcement. c. Use rein forcers that don't require a great deal of time. d. Use rein forcers - that can be used over and over without causing rapid satiation. a. How New Behaviors are Learned B. SHAPING 1. Shaping is a procedure used to establish a behavior that is not presently performed by an individual through the use of positive reinforcement. Since the behavior has a zero level of occurrence, it is not possible to increase its frequency simply by waiting until it occurs and then reinforce it. Instead, behaviors which resemble the desired behavior are reinforced. Shaping is thus defined as the development of a new behavior by the successive reinforcement of closer approximations to the desired behavior and the gradual withdrawal of reinforcement for previously reinforced approximations of the behavior. How New Behaviors are Learned 2. Example: As children learn to talk, their parents begin by reinforcing any sounds that are distant approximations of real words, e.g. "ook" or "kuk" for "cookie." Gradually, parents may require closer and closer approximations in order for the response to be reinforced, e.g. "ookie" and later "cookie.“ Using Shaping Effectively a. b. c. d. Decide on an effective rein forcer Keep your eye on the goal behavior. Clear specification of the goal behavior you are trying to obtain is important so that you don't inadvertently reinforce irrelevant responses. Select an appropriate starting point. This depends entirely on the goal behavior and the presence and frequency of approximations in the individual's response repertoire. In carrying out shaping, several questions may arise. These include: a. b. How large should the steps be? How long should one remain on each step? What should be done if the behavior begins to disintegrate? How New Behaviors are Learned There are no set answers to these questions. Generally, the steps should not be so large that the individual experiences failure and previous approximations are lost through lack of reinforcement (extinction). Before moving to a new step, be sure that the individual is able to perform the one he is on consistently. If the behaviors begin to disintegrate, it may mean that you have moved too quickly and you should return to the previous step. E. Combine prompts and instructions with shaping. The use of prompts makes the shaping process much more rapidly. Prompts should be gradually faded until the behaviors occur consistently without prompts. F. Strengthen the newly acquired behavior by providing many opportunities to practice and use continuous reinforcement until the behaviors are consistently occurring and then gradually shift to intermittent reinforcement. How New Behaviors are Learned C, CHAINING 1.A similar procedure may be used for more complex behaviors. This procedure is called chaining. Many behaviors consist of sequences or chains of behaviors. The links in the chain. are composed of simpler behavioral components. Chaining is accomplished by taking simple behaviors already in the repertoire of the individual and combining them into more complex behaviors by making reinforcement contingent on the production of the entire response chain. Example: Eating can be broken down into the following components: placing food on a spoon, bending arm, opening mouth, inserting spoon in mouth, removing empty spoon, chewing food, and swallowing. If each of these responses is present in the individual's repertoire, they can be elicited as a chain through the use of prompts and reinforcement may be given contingent on the response chain. How New Behaviors are Learned 2. Using Chaining Effectively. -Decide on an effective rein forcer. -Identify the goal behavior and determine whether the links are already in the individual's response repertoire. If all the links are present, proceed with the chaining procedure. When links are absent from the individual's response repertoire, shaping and reinforcement should be used to strengthen the components so that then they may be combined into a chain. -If the goal behavior is very complex, small sub-chains may be taught first. Later these sub-chains may be linked together to achieve the goal behavior. How New Behaviors are Learned – – Use prompts or cues. Verbal directions, gestures, modeling, written instructions, etc. may effectively shorten the time required to establish a behavior chain. Prompts should be gradually faded out until the behaviors occur consistently without the prompts. Provide many opportunities to practice and provide continuous reinforcement until behaviors are consistently occurring. How New Behaviors are Learned D. FADING – An important adjunct to the shaping and chaining procedure is fading. Fading is the gradual removal of prompts or cues which may be used to help elicit the desired responses. In fading, while the goal behaviors or approximations to goal behaviors are consistently reinforced, the prompts or cues that served to elicit the behaviors are slowly and progressively diminished. The procedure is designed to develop a behavior that is emitted in response to naturally occurring cues in the environment and is not dependent on artificial prompts or cues. – Example: In the example of eating behaviors given above, the various component behavior may have initially been elicited by prompts such as, "First, I would like you to place food on your spoon, ..." These verbal descriptions may have been paired with modeling the desired behavior sequence. Gradually, the modeling and later the verbal prompts would be dropped until natural cues, such as being seated in the dining room with a plate of food in front of the individual, were sufficient to elicit the response chain. How New Behaviors are Learned .E. INTERMITTENT REINFORCEMENT – Since in most instances the natural environment does not reinforce every occurrence of a particular response, after new behaviors have been acquired and are occurring consistently, it may be desirable to move from continuous to intermittent reinforcement of the response. Intermittent reinforcement is a schedule of reinforcement in which a behavior is reinforced only some of the times that it occurs, rather than every time (continuous reinforcement). It strengthens behaviors already established by continuous reinforcement so that the behavior will be maintained for longer periods without reinforcement and thus, the behaviors will resist extinction. Using Intermittent Reinforcement Behavior Intermittent Reinforcement Inserting coins and pulling lever on slot machine Occasionally getting a pile of coins form machine Cleaning one’s house every day Occasionally having a visitor drop in and remark on how neat it is Frequently lying about one’s whereabouts Occasionally being believed A two year old crying every night before going to bed Occasionally parents “give in” and let the child stay up Working hard on school studies every night Getting good grades on tests A youth Participation actively and regularly in family conferences A Family Teacher periodically telling youth what a good leader he is How New Behaviors are Learned Moving from continuous to intermittent reinforcement should be gradual so that the behavior does not extinguish. If the behavior does begin to disintegrate, go back to continuous reinforcement and much more gradually to a leaner schedule of reinforcement requiring either a progressively longer period to elapse between reinforcements or progressively more responses to be made in order for reinforcement to occur. Intermittent reinforcement has these other benefits: – – It helps prevent satiation from too much of one kind of reinforcement. It promotes self-reinforcement since the individual can no longer rely on external reinforcement each time he/she performs the behavior. HOW OLD BEHAVIORS MAY BE REDUCED – A. EXTINCTION Extinction is a procedure in which a behavior that has been previously reinforced is no longer reinforced. Ultimately, the consistent non-reinforcement of the behavior tends to result in a reduction of that behavior. Behavior/ Extinction Behavior Possible Extinction Procedure Clients saying bizarre statements Counselors ignore statements Employee performs poorly Employer withholds raise Husband complains about wife’s cooking No response from wife Youth waives hand frantically to answer teacher’s question Teacher ignores hand waver and calls on someone else Youth doesn't clean up room as well as he usually does Family Teacher doesn't give him any positive points How Old Behaviors May be Reduced Using extinction effectively. – – – All sources of reinforcement must be identified and withheld. Otherwise, you may end up with an intermittent reinforcement schedule which will make extinction even more difficult. Maintain extinction conditions for a sufficient time. Frequently with extinction, the behavior may get worse before it begins to decrease in frequency. This is called an "extinction burst." Extinction may also induct aggressive responses. Because of the delayed effect of these procedures, extinction may be contraindicated for certain kinds of behaviors. Combine extinction with other procedures, particularly reinforcement of incompatible behaviors. How Old Behaviors May be Reduced Before deciding to use extinction, ask yourself the following questions: – – – – – – Can you tolerate the undesired behavior temporarily? Can you tolerate a temporary worsening of the behavior? Is the behavior a non-aggressive one that is not likely to be imitated by peers? Are the rein forcers that are currently maintaining the behavior known? Can the reinforcement be withheld? Can an alternative behavior be identified and can it be reinforced? Once you have been able to answer yes to all the above questions, you can begin your extinction program for the undesired behavior while simultaneously reinforcing the alternative behavior. If your answer is no to any of the above questions, you should consider some other procedure. RESPONSE COST – Response cost refers to the contingent withdrawal of specified amounts of rein forcers contingent upon a behavior. The individual may "pay" a certain amount from his reinforcement reserve for having performed the behavior and thus the term "response cost." Response cost is another method of decreasing undesirable behavior. Behavior/Response Cost Behavior Response Cost Speeding Paying a fine Fighting 2,500 point fine Breaking a college dormitory window Off-sides in football Breakage costs Poor school note Point penalty Yardage penalties Using Response Cost Effectively – – – – Allow for a build-up of reinforcement reserve before response cost is used. Penalize sparingly. Severe penalties may cause the individual to withdraw from the situation and be unmotivated to improve his behavior or they may trigger aggressive behavior. When large penalties are in order, provide opportunities for the individual to earn back some of the penalty by engaging in appropriate behavior. Communicate the rules clearly. Rules function as cues for the individual that certain behaviors will be penalized and that others will not. The individual can learn to make discriminations more rapidly when the rules are available to him. Combine response cost with other procedures. Response cost temporarily reduces the occurrence of specific behaviors and can be combined with reinforcement of incompatible behavior to effectively suppress the undesirable behaviors and increase the likelihood of more appropriate behavior. PUNISHMENT – – Punishers are unpleasant or painful events that, when presented after a behavior is performed, decrease the likelihood that the behavior will occur in the future. Thus punishers, like rein forcers , are defined by their effect upon behavior. Punishment should be avoided when you want to reduce a behavior. All other procedures should be considered first since they are effective and have far fewer side effects. Behavior/ Punishers Behavior Possible Punisher Fighting Getting hurt Getting poor grades Parent's reprimands Painting a picture Getting negative criticism Running into street Getting spanked Coming home late Being grounded and given extra chores Cursing Getting a slap Giving someone a compliment Being called a manipulator Going to school Being mocked by friends who don’t attend school Stealing a car Getting five years hard labor Youth talking back to an adult Having to clean all the bathrooms Punishers Can Have Negative Impact on Youth – – – The person giving the punishment tends to become viewed as a punisher him/herself and as such, will be avoided (e.g. a youth skipping a particular class to avoid a teacher who reprimanded him. Anything associated with punishment will tend to take on punishing characteristics and be avoided (e.g. a youth always dislikes reading because he was taught by a teacher who always reprimanded him for his errors and never encouraged him to improve). The act of giving punishment is readily imitated by others (e.g. children are sarcastic with each other after seeing parents punishing through sarcasm). Punishers Can Have Negative Impact on Youth – – Undesirable peer reactions may occur when one individual has been singled out for punishment frequently. For example, the punished person may be avoided, ridiculed or generally avoided. On the other hand, the "underdog" effect may occur where the punished individual receives peer support or sympathy. This peer reinforcement would oppose the effects of punishment and perhaps end up increasing the undesired behavior. Punishment can cause the individual to think of him/herself negatively, especially if the punishment included aversive statements directed at the individual rather than at the behavior (e.g., "Your are a bad boy." -"Can't you do anything right?" --or --"Are you going to be a baby all your life?") Punishers Can Have Negative Impact on Youth – – Punishment doesn't teach any new good behaviors and instead may produce some undesirable behaviors which may be used to avoid punishment: Running away Lying Cheating Hating Withdrawal Punishment may become addictive to the user. Because it results in a quick suppression of undesirable behavior, it can tempt the user to rely heavily on it and neglect the use of positive reinforcement for desirable behavior. This may produce a vicious cycle of heavier and heavier doses of punishment to control the behavior. HOW TO DETERMINE WHEN AND WHERE BEHAVIORS WILL OCCUR A. GENERALIZATION AND DISCRIMINATION – Generalization is a process through which a behavior learned or strengthened in one stimulus situation tends to occur in other situations. Generalization can lead to appropriate or inappropriate behavior. Examples: – A young child learns to say "dog" in response to pictures of dogs and also labels any dogs he sees in his neighborhood appropriately. – Another child learned to say "dog" in response to pictures of dogs and then generalized this response to any four footed creature. HOW TO DETERMINE WHEN AND WHERE BEHAVIORS WILL OCCUR – The opposite of generalization is discrimination. When a behavior occurs more readily in the presence of one stimulus or situation than in another, we say that the individual has discriminated between the two stimuli or situations. In the first example above, the child had learned to generalize the response "dog" from pictures of dogs to any dogs in his environment. He had also learned to discriminate between those characteristics which are common to all dogs and those that separate dogs from other four footed animals. He was thus able to use the response "dog" appropriately. The discrimination was learned as the result of the child being reinforced for appropriate use of the word dog and the extinction of inappropriate usage of the word. Obtaining Effective Generalization Since it is not feasible to follow our youth around to reinforce the occurrence of behaviors we have taught in one situation in every situation we would like the behaviors to occur, there are several general approaches that will increase the likelihood that appropriate generalization will occur: Emphasize the common elements between the situations in which you have reinforced the youth's appropriate responses and those in which you would like the responses to occur. Example: A Family Teacher has worked with one of her youth on being quiet in church and at the movies. The youth's class is going to a museum for the first time. The Family Teacher may emphasize the similarities between the situations, noting that in church or the movies, one must be quiet so that everyone may listen without being disturbed and that likewise in museums, one must be quiet so that others may enjoy the exhibits. Obtaining Effective Generalization – Maximize the number of similar situations in which you have reinforced the behavior. The greater the number of stimuli or situations in the presence of which the behaviors are reinforced, the more likely it is that the behaviors will generalize to other stimulus situations (e.g., if accepting criticism appropriately has been reinforced in your home and at school, it is more likely that it will generalize to job or sports situations). – Regular reinforcement of the behavior in similar situations and extinction of the behavior in other dissimilar ones simultaneously teaches the youth a generalized response and a discrimination. Usually naturally occurring reinforcement will maintain the behaviors in the new environment. When you are not sure that this will occur automatically, you may attempt to change the reinforcement contingencies through prompts to other people in that environment to attend to and reinforce the youth's appropriate behaviors (e.g., you may have been working on the youth's ability to accept criticism in the home. You may want to prompt teachers to attend to these behaviors at school and reinforce them if they occur.) References Kanfer and Phillips, Learning Foundations of Behavior Therapy. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1970. Martin and Pear, Behavior Modification: What it is and how to do it. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1978 Sulzer and Mayer,Behavior Modification Procedures for School Personnel. Hinsdale, New York: Dryden Press, Inc. 1972 Reinforcers Menu Youth: Date: Consumable Reinforcers: What does the youth like to eat or drink? – What foods does the youth like to east most? Regular meals Health foods Junk foods Sweets Reinforcers Menu – What beverages does the youth like to drink most? Milk Soft Drinks Juices Other Activity Reinforcers: What things does the youth like to do? Activities in the home: Activities in the Yard: Reinforcers Menu Manipulative Reinforcers: – Free activities away from home: Activities you pay to do away form home: Passive activities: What kinds of games or toys does the youth like to play with? Possessional Reinforcers: – What kinds of things does the youth like to possess? Reinforcers Menu Social Reinforcers: – What kinds of verbal or physical stimulation does the youth like to receive from others (specify who)? Verbal Physical contact Self Reinforcers: – What kinds of self statements does the youth make that seem to motivate him/her? Social Learning Theory Define the following terms: – – – – Antecedent: Behaviors: Consequences: Rein forcer: There are four factors which determine the effectiveness of rein forcers. They are the principles of deprivation, contingency, immediacy, and size. Please define these concepts: – – – – Principle of Deprivation: Principle of Contingency: Principle of Immediacy: Principle of Size: Social Learning Theory Schedules of Reinforcement: – – Continuous schedules of reinforcement, or reinforcing the behavior every time it occurs is used to __________a new skill or ____________a weak skill. Intermittent schedules of reinforcement are used to ______________newly learned skills. Consistent non-reinforcement of the behavior will tend to result in a reduction of the behavior. This is known as extinction. In order for the extinction to be effective all sources of reinforcement must be _________and _______ Social Learning Theory Inadvertent extinction occurs when the shift from continuous reinforcement to _____________reinforcement is made too quickly for the youth. It may cause newly learned skills to become extinct. Define Shaping: Define Response Cost: When using response cost, some important things to keep in mind are: Social Learning Theory Define Punishment: List some dangerous side effects of punishment: – a. b. c. d. e. Define the concepts as they relate to Social Learning Theory: – – Generalization: Discrimination: Social Learning Theory A. B. C.’s Antecedent Behavior Consequence Social Learning Theory Match the following behavior descriptions with the learning theory principle which most closely applies. Place the letter of the correct principle next to the number of the example. In other words, what principle is probably responsible for the resulting behavior (response) in each case. All of these examples pertain to a youth's first contact with a skate board. – – – – Tim saw it and tried it. He fell off and broke his leg. He didn't try it again. Bill saw it and tried it. He was successful and had fun. He continued to do it. Jim saw it and tried it. He was successful, but didn't particularly enjoy it. His parents encouraged him and allowed him to get out of chores to have practice time. He continued to do it. Joe saw it and tried it. He was successful and had fun but ... He missed opportunities to date his girl friend when he practiced. He stopped doing it. A = Negative reinforcement B = Positive reinforcement C = Punishment D = Response cost Learning Theory How youth learn and are motivated to learn This training presentation is available for download at: www.utahparenting.org © 2007 Utah Youth Village.