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Behaviourist assumptions

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Rose Cummins

on 13 September 2012

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Transcript of Behaviourist assumptions

Assumptions The Behaviourist Approach All behaviour is learned from the experiences a person has in their environment

Behaviourists focus on the influence of the environment

Behaviourists are strongly on the side of nurture in the nature/nurture debate and regard genetic influences on behaviour as minimal Classical conditioning

Operant conditioning

Social Learning Theory Basic assumptions:
Behaviour can be explained in terms of: All behaviour is learned through reinforcement or punishment of behavioural responses.

Reinforcement - a reward, strengthens the link between a stimulus (something in the environment) and a behavioural response. Only observable behaviour not minds should be studied if psychology is to be an objective science. Watson believed that we enter the world as a ‘blank slate’ – all we have is the capacity to learn new things.
So a person’s unique ways of behaving are the result of their unique set of learning experiences.
Watson did not believe that people have free will. John Watson and Behaviourist Psychology Pavlov investigated salivation in dogs by conducting the following experiment.
For several feedings, each time the dog received its food, a bell was sounded and the amount of saliva produced by the dog was measured.
After several such ‘trials’ Pavlov sounded the bell without giving the dog any food and the dog still salivated. Classical Conditioning The food is an unconditioned stimulus (UCS), a stimulus that elicits a response automatically or reflexively.
The salivation to the food is an unconditioned response (UCR), that is, a response which is automatically produced. The formula for this is: The bell is a conditioned stimulus (CS) because it will only set off the reflex action on condition that it is presented just before the food.

Salivation to the bell is a conditioned response (CR), a response to the conditioned stimulus. Before Learning: During Learning After learning:

Draw a flow diagram showing how
Little Albert learned to be afraid of
the white rat. Operant Conditioning was first described by Thorndike in 1911.

He devised a ‘puzzle box’ in which cats were placed and had to solve the problem of how to escape.

The more often they were placed in the box, the quicker their escape. Operant Conditioning Learning did not depend on a sudden flash of inspiration but on trial and error and, as such, was a gradual process.

The process of learning could be expressed in the Law of Effect: a response that is followed by pleasant consequences becomes more probable and a response that is followed by unfavourable consequences becomes less probable. Thorndike suggested that: Skinner developed machines for operant conditioning which are named ‘Skinner boxes’.
Rats and pigeons are most often used. Skinner and Operant Conditioning When placed in the Skinner box the animal has to press a lever to open a food tray and thus obtain reinforcement in the form of food.
By accident, in the course of exploration, the rat will press the lever and food will be presented.
Every time it presses the lever, food is delivered, so pressing the lever is reinforced.
The rat will then press the lever more often, and this becomes a conditioned response. Skinner stated that:

Behaviour which is reinforced tends to be repeated.
Behaviour which is not reinforced tends to be extinguished. Positive reinforcement: this is a positive or pleasant consequence, such as getting food, and increases the likelihood that a behaviour will be repeated in the future

Negative reinforcement: this is when a response removes an unpleasant consequence, such as an electric shock, and increases the likelihood that a behaviour will be repeated in the future.
Punishment: this is different from negative reinforcement, since a punishing consequence of behaviour will result in the behaviour not being repeated in the future. For example, if the rat receives an electric shock when pressing a lever, the lever-pressing behaviour will be extinguished. Watch video of operant
conditioning with autistic boy Complete task and identify whether each example is using positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement or punishment. Social Learning Theory Proposes that we learn our behaviour through our social environment

The approach states that behaviour is learned by watching other people behave and observing the consequences of the behaviour for the observed person.
Hence, behaviour is NOT learned from direct reward and punishment for the individual (as with operant conditioning) People observe role models (people who they identify with)

They learn about the consequences of behaviour through indirect or vicarious reinforcement

Vicarious reinforcement is a term used in SLT when the observer learns that a model’s behaviour has been reinforced or rewarded. Vicarious reinforcement increases the likelihood that the observer will imitate the behaviour of the model. The approach also assumes that mental processes are important in how people learn behaviour. This is because, when observing another person’s behaviour and seeing the consequences of that behaviour, the observer must understand when behaviour is rewarded and when it is punished. SLT was initially developed by Albert Bandura (1977) and is often referred to as a cognitive social theory of learning

The key difference from classical and operant conditioning is the idea that mental processes occur between stimulus and response. Exam Question:

Outline 2 assumptions of the behaviourist approach (4 marks)

You should:
Identify an assumption
Explain this assumption
Identify a second assumption
Explain this assumption By the end of today's lesson you should be able to:
- Describe the process of Classical Conditioning
- Describe the process of Operant Conditioning
- Describe Social Learning Theory
- Use the assumptions of the behaviourist approach to explain behaviour.
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