Major Movements in Psychology - Behaviorism

17 important questions on Major Movements in Psychology - Behaviorism

What is the Black Box Theory of the Mind?

In this view, the mind is no more than an opaque black box inserted between stimulus and response. As no one can see inside of it, it is not worthy of study.

This extreme antimentalism of the behaviorists has been frequently criticized and was finally put to rest by the cognitive revolution in the 1960s.

How do Behaviorists understand learning?

Behaviorism is best described as a theory of learning. However, the mental process of learning had to be translated into behavioral terms. Thus learning occurs when a new behavior is repeatedly and consistently performed in response to a given stimulus.

What is associative or classical conditioning?

Associative conditioning, also called classical or Pavlovian conditioning, refers to a form of learning in which a person or animal is conditioned to respond in a particular way to a specific stimulus.

If a neutral stimulus is paired with an emotionally meaningful one, than the neutral stimulus will become associated with the second stimulus and elicit the same response.

What is the difference between the conditioned and the unconditioned stimulus?

The unconditioned stimulus is the stimulus that elicits a natural and unlearned response. The conditioned stimulus is a formerly neutral stimulus that now elicits a response through its pairing with the conditioned stimulus.

How is classical conditioning relevant to everyday life?

When we develop food aversions, phobias, positive associations (an association of Paris with a romantic vacation) our behavior reflect classical conditioning.

It is therefore no accident that so many advertising campaigns hire young, beautiful, and skimpily clad models. The advertisers want consumers to associate their product with youth, beauty, and sex.

How is classical conditioning relevant to animal behavior?

As animals lack higher cognitive abilities, such as complex reasoning, symbolic tought, or language, associative conditioning is a primary way that animals learn.

Does your cat love to sit on the couch and purr? Does she associate the couch with affection and attention? Does your dog start to bark and wag his tail when you put on your shoes? Does he associate your shoes with his walk?

What is operant conditioning?

In operant conditioning, pioneered by B.F. Skinner (1904-1990), behavior is influenced less by the stimulus with which it is associated than by the effect of that behavior.

Operant conditioning builds on Thorndike's Law of Effect. If the effect of the behavior is positive, then it is reinfored, and the behavior is more likely to recur. If the effect of the behavior is negative, then it is punished and therefore less likely to be repeated.

What is the difference between positive and negative reinforcement?

Positive reinforcements is also called reward, and refers to the positive consequence of a behavior, which increases its likelihood of recurring.

Negative reinforcement, to be distinguished from punishment, involves the removal of a negative condition as a consequence of the targeted behavior.

How effective is punishment?

Punishment involves the introduction of a negative consequence to a behavior with the intent of diminishing the frequency of the behavior.

Although the early behaviorists avoided mental considerations, it is now clear that punishment, if done too frequently, creates anger, fear, and resentment and can breed an oppositional mindset, in which people try to cheat the system instead of willingly following the rules.

B.F. Skinner distrusted punishment as well, stating that it had only short term effects and it did not teach alternative behavior.

How is operant conditioning relevant to everyday life?

Operant conditioning is in evidence in almost every aspect of daily life. When we are paid for our work, evaluated for a merit raise by our managers, thanked by a friend for being considerate, penalized for paying taxes late, or even given a parking ticket, operant conditioning is in play.

How is operant conditioning relevant to animal life?

Most of animal training involves operant conditioning. When we spray our cat with a squirt gun after he jumps on the kichen counter or give our dog a treat after he rolls over, we are using operant conditioning.

Even pigeons can be shaped to do a particular behavior, such as peck at a lever, by successively rewarding behavior that more closely approximates the desired behavior.

How do reinforcement conditions affect learning?

A number of factors affect the effectiveness of conditioning. Timing is important, specifically the time separating the unconditioned and conditioned stimulus. Relatedly, the reinforcement should closely follow the behavior for the act to be connected with the consequence.

The schedule of reinforcement also affects learning. Should the behavior be reinforced every time it occurs? What kind of reinforcement makes a behavior most resistant to extinction?

Why is intermittent reinforcement more resistant to extinction?

Intermittent reinforcement, in which the behavior is only reinforced intermittently, best protects a behavior from extinction. If people do not expect the behavior to be reinforced every time it occurs, they will be less likely to stop the behavior when it is not reinforced. It will take longer for them to give up on the behavior. Further, when intermittent reinforcement is unpredictable, it is even more resistant to extinction.

How is intermittent reinforcement used in gambling?

In gambling, the behavior of betting is rewarded intermittently and unpredictably. When the gambler's bet is not rewarded, the gambler continues to bet, expecting that another win will follow sooner or later.

If the gambler had been rewarded for every bet, it would take fewer losses for the gambler to disassociate betting with winning and for the act of gambling to be extinguished.

Thus casinos take advantage of an intermittent and unpredictable schedule in order to keep gamblers gambling as long as possible.

What problems with behaviorism started to show up even among the faithful?

As the reign of behaviorism continued, the limits of the paradigm became more evident. Animals kept behaving in ways that could not be explained by behaviorist theory alone.

For example, Skinner had thought that any animal could be taught any behavior with the appropriate reinforcement schedule. But this did not turn out to be the case.

How were mental processes evident even in rats running mazes?

Tolman introduced the notions of expectancy, of mental maps, into behaviorism? The rats appeared to develop a set of expectations about how events would play out based on their prior experiences. They then made decisions by matching their expectations against information from the new situation.

What was the Cognitive Revolution?

In the 1950s and 1960s several lines of development converged to create the explosive shift in academic psychology known as the cognitive revolution. Research in various other fields of study, such as anthropology, linguistics, and computer science, had been moving toward the scientific study of mental processes.

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