Classical Conditioning

Classical Conditioning
Operant Conditioning
Cognitive Learning
Observational Learning
• An experience in environment, which
causes a…..
• change in an organism that is
• relatively permanent
• Decreased response to a stimulus judged to be of little
or no importance
• We engage in this type of learning so we can tune out
unimportant stimuli and focus on what matters
• Increased response to a stimulus when we are anticipating an
important stimulus
• We engage in this type of learning so we are prepared for
dangerous situations
• Behaviorism states that:
• learning and experience determine behavior.
• Babies are tabula rasas
• Psychology should focus purely on observable behaviors and not
unobservable thoughts
• Learning that two things go together
• Conditioning: A simple form of learning in which a specific
pattern of behaviors is learned in the presence of well-defined
• Classical conditioning aka Pavlonian conditioning
• An involuntary behavior is determined by what comes before it
• i.e. Baby Albert and the loud bell
• i.e. Seeing the dentist’s office and feeling anxiety
• Operant conditioning aka instrumental aka Skinnerian
• Involves rewards and punishment
• A voluntary behavior is determined by the anticipation of something that
follows it
• i.e. studying on a test for obtaining good grades
• i.e. fastening your seat belt to avoid the obnoxious beeping
1. A child is attacked by a
dog. The child now
fears all dogs.
2. You do your homework
every night to get
good grades and
avoid punishment.
Classical – involuntary, stimulus
precedes behavior
Operant – voluntary, stimulus
follows behavior
• Learning in which a response naturally caused by one stimulus
comes to be elicited by a different, formerly neutral stimulus
• Ivan Pavlov
• Accidentally discovered classical conditioning
• His experiments on digestion in dogs turned into research on learning
• Unconditioned stimulus (US)
• A stimulus that automatically causes a specific response in an organism
• And example of a US would be food
• Unconditioned response (UR)
• The response caused by a US
• The UR is automatic and unlearned
• An example of a UR is salivation in response to food
• Conditioned stimulus (CS)
• A formerly neutral stimulus (NS) that is paired with a US and eventually
causes the desired response all by itself
• An example of a CS is the bell in Pavlov’s studies
• Conditioned response (CR)
• The learned response to the CS
• An example is salivation in response to the bell
• Involves a few central concepts:
• Unconditioned = Unlearned
• Unconditioned Stimulus
• Unconditioned Response
• Conditioned = learned
• Conditioned Stimulus
• Conditioned Response
Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS)
Meat powder
Unconditioned Response (UCR)
Conditioned Stimulus (CS)
Conditioned Response (CR)
* Hint: replace “conditioned” with “learned” to make it
more intuitive.
• John Watson
• Little Albert – 11 month old
• Showed him a white rat. No fear.
• Made a loud noise. Albert cried.
• Showed him a white rat and made
a loud noise. Albert cried.
Repeated several times.
• Eventually Albert cried at white
rat alone.
“ Give me a dozen healthy infants, wellformed, and my own specified world to bring
them up and I’ll guarantee to take any one at
random and train him to become any type of
specialist I might select—doctor, lawyer,
merchant-chief, and yes, ever beggarman
and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants,
tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his
ancestors.” (1930)
The “Little Albert” experiment demonstrated a classically
conditioned fear of white fluffy things
• UCS =
• Loud Noise
• UCR =
• Fear of Noise
• NS =
• Rat
• CS =
• Rat
• CR =
• Fear of Rat
• Acquisition – initial learning of the stimulus-response relationship
(learning that bell means meat powder)
• Extinction – diminished response to the conditioned stimulus
when it is no longer coupled with UCS. (stop giving meat
powder with bell and dog will stop salivating to bell)
• Spontaneous recovery – reappearance of an extinguished CR
after a rest.
• Generalization – the tendency to respond to any stimuli similar
to the CS (Dog salivates to other noises)
• Discrimination – the ability to distinguish between the CS and
similar stimuli (Dog only salivates to specific tone)
• If Little Albert generalized, what would we expect to happen?
• He might cry at the sight of similar objects (he did – rabbit, dog, sealskin coat,
some rumors – Santa’s beard)
• How could we teach Little Albert to discriminate?
• Continually expose him to stimuli similar to the rat, but only make the loud noise
when exposing him to the rat
• How could Little Albert’s conditioning be extinguished?
• Continually expose him to a white rat without making the loud noise (unfortunately,
this was never done because Little Albert was adopted soon after the original
experiments (he would be 83 now if he is still alive – probably scared of rats!)
• If Little Albert is still alive, his fear of white rats is likely to have been
extinguished (no loud noise when he sees a rat). However, occasionally,
when he sees a rat, he may find that his heart races for a second or two.
What is this called?
• Spontaneous recovery
Pain from the drill
Sound of the drill
• Extinction: if the pain does not result when the drill is
used, the CS (fear) will diminish.
• Spontaneous recovery: the child returns for a visit the
next day and the sound of the drill elicits fear again.
• Generalization: the child becomes fearful of the sound
of any motor
• Discrimination: the child learns that only the high
pitched dentist drill is associated with pain and not a
low pitch hum of the vacuum cleaner.
Pretty people
Feeling good
Sight of BMW
Feeling good
Pain of the accident
Presence of car
Stomach virus
Feeling sick
Sight of snails
Feeling sick
• UCS?
Getting in trouble from
• UCR?
• CS?
• CR?
Increased heart rate
Flashing lights
Increased heart rate
• Lick your finger and dip it into your cup of lemonade
powder, but DO NOT EAT IT.
• When you hear the tone, immediately eat the powder
on your finger, and then dip your finger back into the
cup to prepare for the next trial.
• You must eat some of the powder immediately after
each tone, but not any other time.
• After several “learning” trials, you will be instructed to
simply listen to the tone without eating the powder.
• What happens? Label the UCS, UCR, NS, CS and CR in
your notes based on the demo.
• Once a neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned
stimulus, it may function as an unconditioned stimulus to
elicit new learning.
• For instance, in Pavlov’s experiment, once the bell
produced the salivation response in the dogs, it could
be paired with a new neutral stimulus, such as a red
light, until the dogs learned to salivate to the red light.
• In order for Classical Conditioning to work the
following variables must exist:
• STRENGTH - Stimuli (UCS, NS) must be noticeable enough to
provoke a response.
• TIMING - UCS and NS must be paired close together so that
an association is made between the two.
• FREQUENCY - UCS and NS must be paired together many
times so that an association is made between the two and the
NS can come to elicit the same response as the UCS.
• Extinction –
• After a period of time passes when CS is not paired with
UCS, CS returns to being an NS
• e.g. Baby Albert would eventually cease to be afraid of
white fluffy things after they were not paired with a horrible
and frightening noise.
• Spontaneous Recovery –
• Just because extinction occurs, does it mean that the learning
is gone completely? No!
• After extinction, it is not unusual to see the recurrence of the
conditioned response
• This proves the learning never disappeared; it was just
obscured by new learning - like interference
• Generalization –
• An organism may learn to respond not only to the CS, but
also to other stimuli that are similar to the CS.
• e.g. Baby Albert was conditioned to fear a white rat, but also
feared cotton balls, rabbits, white sweaters, etc.
• Discrimination –
• Organisms can also learn to decipher between similar stimuli
when only particular stimuli are paired with a UCS.
• Some learning mechanisms are so powerful they do not require
frequency of pairings.
• Taste Aversion –
• Occurs when organism becomes ill following consumption of a particular food.
• Organism may never be able to eat the food again.
• WHY?
• Garcia Effect –
• Using principles of taste aversion, John Garcia put this phenomenon to good
• Sprinkled carcass of sheep with a chemical that caused illness in coyotes
• Coyotes did not attack the livestock following this experience
It was once believed that conditioning occurred the same in all animals (and
therefore you could study human behavior by studying any animal) and that
you could associate any neutral stimulus with a response. Not so. Animals
have biological predispositions to associating certain stimuli over others
• Example – You eat a novel food and later get sick. You will be conditioned
to associate the taste of the FOOD with getting sick (and thus avoid that
food in the future), but NOT the music playing in the restaurant, the plate it
was served on, or the perfume your neighbor was wearing.
• It is much easier to condition someone to have a fear of snake than of
• Birds hunt by sight and will more quickly become conditioned to the SIGHT of
tainted food
• Some conditioned responses come naturally, others do not.
• Preparedness
• Conditioned behaviors that work well with organism’s instinctive
behaviors and are easy to train
• e.g. phobia of snakes or spiders
• Contrapreparedness
• Other conditioned behaviors go against the organism’s instinctive
behaviors and are difficult or impossible to train.
• e.g. phobia of chairs or tables?
• Many phobias are learned responses and can be unlearned
• This can be done gradually or all at once
• Systematic Desensitization
• Therapist and client generate “fear hierarchy” of situations that
are increasingly threatening
• Client then learns relaxation techniques
• Client experiences “en vivo” therapy to directly experience each
item on fear hierarchy to gradually unlearn his/her fear
• Flooding
• Client faces worst-case-scenario involving fear
• If they can survive this, they have no reason so be fearful every
Stop drug or alcohol addiction by
pairing a nausea-producing drug with
the drug of addiction.
Extinguish a drug addiction by
administering a drug that blocks the
pleasant feeling normally elicited by
the drug.
If a child is afraid of rabbits because
one bit him when he was young, you
can expose the child to rabbits in safe
environments repeatedly until the
behavior is extinguished
• It was once thought that
cognitive processes weren’t
involved in classical
conditioning. Now we know
better. For example,
therapists give alcoholics
drink containing a nauseaproducing drug to condition
them to avoid alcohol.
Because clients KNOW that
the drug is what is actually
causing the nausea, it doesn’t
work so well.
• Learning in which an organism engages in
a spontaneous behavior which is followed
by a consequence - a reward or
• Organism learns to perform behavior in
order to gain a reward or avoid a
• If a behavior is reinforced, it is MORE likely to occur
• If a behavior is punished, it is LESS likely to occur
• E.L. Thorndike
• Researched cats in a puzzle box
• Cats learned to escape from box to attain a reinforcement of food
• B.F. Skinner
• Created a device called a Skinner Box to train organisms using operant conditioning
• Also did research on superstition (pigeons) and connected it to the principles of operant
• Reinforcer
• A stimulus or event that follows a behavior and makes that behavior more
likely to occur again
• Punisher
• A stimulus or event that follows a behavior and makes that behavior less
likely to occur again
• Positive reinforcer (+)
• Adds something rewarding
following a behavior,
making that behavior more
likely to occur again
• Giving a dog a treat for
fetching a ball is an
• Negative reinforcer (-)
• Removes something
unpleasant from the
environment following a
behavior, making that
behavior more likely to
occur again
• Taking an aspirin to relieve
a headache is an example
• Primary reinforcer
• Adds something intrinsically
valuable to the organism
• Giving a dog a food for
shaking hands
• Secondary reinforcer
• Adds something with
assigned value to the
• Giving a person $100 for
each A on their report
• Positive Punishment (+)
• Adds something undesirable to
decrease a behavior
• Spanking a child for swearing
• Negative Punishment (-)
• Removes something desirable
to decrease a behavior
• Taking a child’s toy away for
• Also called omission training
• Primary Punishment
• Method of decreasing
behavior is directly
threatening to organism’s
• Beating a prisoner for trying
to escape
• Secondary Punishment
• Method of decreasing
behavior is undesirable, but
not life-threatening
• Taking away a prisoner’s
recreational privileges for
trying to escape
• Some behaviors are too complex to occur
• For these behaviors, shaping must be used
• Shaping reinforces successive approximations to the desired
• Organism eventually learns what the desired behavior is in
small steps
• Similar to playing “hot and cold”
• Our class demonstration?
• Some changes in behavior are easily trained
• Preparedness
• Conditioned behaviors that work well with organism’s instinctive
behaviors and are easy to train
• e.g. Brelands’ “Dancing Chicken”
• Contrapreparedness
• Other conditioned behaviors go against the organism’s instinctive
behaviors and are difficult or impossible to train.
• e.g. Brelands’ raccoon
• Punishment not as effective as reinforcement
• Does not teach proper behavior, only suppresses undesirable
• Causes upset feelings that can impede learning
• May give impression that inflicting pain is acceptable
• Effective punishment must be
• Should occur as soon as possible after the behavior
• Should occur every time the behavior does
• Should be strong enough to be a deterrent
• Should apply to all individuals the same way
• When punishment is given haphazardly, learned helplessness
can result.
• Learned Helplessness occurs when NO MATTER WHAT THE ORGANISM
DOES, it cannot change the consequences of behavior.
• Martin Seligman’s experiment with dogs showed that dogs given a series
of inescapable shocks stopped trying to escape the shocks even when
given the opportunity to escape later.
• Another example would be finding that whether or not you study for your
calculus tests, you fail, so you stop trying altogether.
• An alternative to punishment if known as AVOIDANCE
• the organism is given a “warning” before punishment occurs so it may
change its behavior in order to avoid an unpleasant consequence like a
• ex/”Counting to three” before punishment is delivered to provoke a child
to stop misbehaving.
• Biofeedback is an operant technique that teaches people to
gain voluntary control over bodily processes like heart rate and
blood pressure
• When used to control brain activity it is called neurofeedback
• Interval schedules
• Reinforcement depends on the passing of time
• Fixed-interval schedule
• Reinforcement follows the first behavior after a fixed amount of time
has passed
• An example would be receiving a paycheck every two weeks
• Variable-interval schedule
• Reinforcement follows the first behavior after a variable amount of
time has passed
• An example would be pop quizzes
• Ratio schedules
• Reinforcement depends on the number of responses made
• Fixed-ratio schedule
• Reinforcement follows a fixed number of behaviors
• For example, being paid on a piecework basis
• Variable-ratio schedule
• Reinforcement follows a variable number of behaviors
• An example would be playing slot machines
• Which schedule
yields the fastest
response rate?
• What happened in
our class
• Sometimes learning involves more than simply reacting
to stimuli – it involves THINKING!
• Cognitive Learning
• Learning that depends on mental activity that is not directly
• Involves such processes as attention, expectation, thinking, and
• While behaviorists typically focus on learning that is
based on reactions, cognitive psychologists explain
learning in terms of additional mental processes.
• Generative learning
• Using what you know to figure out something you don’t
• E.g. realizing a new song is by a favorite group of yours
• Insight
• After thinking about a problem for a bit, you suddenly figure it out
• E.g. Kohler’s chimps
• Latent learning
• learning that takes place before the subject realizes it and is not
immediately reflected in behavior
• Taking a test on material learned over the course of a few weeks
• Cognitive mapping
• latent learning stored as a mental image
• Slideshow experiment
• Learning sets/Learning to Learn
• refers to increasing effectiveness at problem solving through experience
• organisms “learn how to learn”
• Figuring out how to study best
• Trial and Error Learning
• Learn by your mistakes
• Class demonstration - “Blind Maze” - what happened?
• Social learning theory or Observational Learning
theory focuses on what we learn from observing other
• Albert Bandura’s Bobo Doll experiment
• Children imitated adult role model - adult models behavior
and child imitates
• Vicarious reinforcement or vicarious punishment
affects the willingness of people to perform behaviors
they learned by watching others
• Nonhumans are capable of classical and operant conditioning
• Nonhumans are also capable of latent learning
• Research has also demonstrated that animals are capable of
observational learning
• 1. Stand stayed out past his curfew. His parents demanded that he
surrender his car keys for two weeks. Stand has not broken curfew
• 2. Jane decided to draw a picture on her bedroom wall with crayons.
Her mom beat her with a wooden spoon. She no longer draws on the
• 3. Alex got all As on his report card, so his mother relieves him of
having to go Christmas shopping with her.
• 4. When the kindergarteners in Ms. Trager’s class behave well, she
takes them outside to play on the playground.
• 5. Rachel found out that her boyfriend Bert lied to all their friends
about how they met, claiming that she wanted him first. Now Rachel
refuses to hold Bert’s hand. Bert doesn’t lie about their relationship
How to ... Motivate Youth
OW do you get that 16-year-old to hunker down? Ethell Geller, a behavioral psychologist, has worked with adolescents for 30 years in her
Manhattan practice. Borrowing from B.F. Skinner and Pavlov, she explains motivation as a connection between expectations and consequences.
Q. Where does motivation come from?
A. Ideally, one goes from a very primitive type of motivation, satisfying basic drives, to an externalized form, or bribery, to the most sophisticated
form, which is inherent -- working for its own sake. Human beings must develop all three types of motivation to be fully functioning, satisfied,
motivated adults.
Q. Why are some children stuck at Phase 2?
A. Volumes have been written on the topic of motivation and social learning theory. But simply put, the extent to which children feel that their efforts
lead to meaningful rewards will determine how motivated they feel. If rewards come with little effort, the child becomes spoiled. On the other
extreme, if effort meets with continuous failure, the child will experience helplessness and give up.
Q. What strategy do you recommend?
A. First, find out why a child isn't motivated. Ask, does she really not care? Or is she afraid of something else? Or is she involved in an immediate
reward system, like TV or friends, that she considers more meaningful? Or is it a self-esteem issue or another type of disability?
Once the source of the problem has been identified, either therapy or behavioral management of the current reward system, or a combination of
both, must be put in place.
Q. Like, fewer bribes? A. Research shows that one of the best ways to motivate a child is to avoid punishment and exhibit parental approval as a
But what I often do when faced with children who have low self-esteem or are unmotivated is ask them to make a list of the people and their
qualities that they most admire. After they come up with their lists, show them that if they work toward the salient features on that list, they can
come to respect themselves and be more motivated. Reassure them that normal people who work hard can accomplish what their heroes have.

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