Learning And Behavior Analysis Essay Sample
Learning can be defined as relatively permanent change in an individual that can be manifested in its behavior when exposed to certain conditions and that is a result of individual’s activity. There are three major types of learning that impact our behavior and have been proved to be the most successful: classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning. Each of these types of learning is important for the understanding of the process of learning acquisition.
Ivan Pavlov, a Russian psychologist, committed his life to investigating operant conditioning. In his study on digestion, Pavlov saw an amazing discovery in the dogs. The dogs developed an association with meat powder, and they salivated before powder was placed in their mouth. In the experiment, at the beginning Pavlov used tone as an unconditioned stimulus (UCS), food as conditioned stimulus (CS). This means that dog salivated only when food was given to him and the natural response to food was salvation. However, after the dog associated tone with the food, the tone becomes conditioning stimulus (CS). After the sound, the dog was given food and after several attempts, the tone become conditioned stimulus meaning that every time the dog heard the sound, the conditioned response (salivation) followed, even though the food did not follow after the sound. Classical conditioning is present in our everyday life and many fears that we experiences are the result of classical conditioning. It is possible condition emotional reactions, motor reactions such as lifting a paw in dogs and other animals, salivation, blood pressure. The most famous examples of emotional conditioning was with little Albert. John Watson and Rosalie Rayner conditioned Albert, an infant, to become afraid of furry animals and white rabbits. At the beginning of the experiment Albert did not fear of white rabbits, and they were neutral, unconditioned stimuli. However, as experiment continued Alfred become afraid of white rabbits and furry toys because they association between a toy and noise was connected. All fears and phobias that resulted as learning through classical conditioning have a tendency to remain for a long period of time and are easy generalized such is the case with Post traumatic stress disorder. Soldiers who return from a war or women who were raped generalize their experience and soldier create a phobia of every loud sound and women thing that all men want to do them harm.
The second type of learning is learning through operant conditioning. "According to Thorndike’s analysis, learning was an association between stimuli in the situation and a response that an animal learned to make: a stimulus–response (S–R) connection" (Pierce and Cheney, p. 157). The important fact for this type of learning that could be noticed in Thorndike's cat is law of effect. Law of effect means that if a certain behavior is reinforced positively, it is more likely that this kind of behavior will repeat in the future. In operant conditioning it is important to make a distinction between positive and negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement can be defined as behavior that is followed by the presentation of an appetitive stimulus and it this way it increases the frequency of repeating that behavior. The examples of learning through positive reinforcing may be found in small children who are rewarded for a certain type of behavior or their parents give them money for every good grade they receive in school, or when trying to learn children to correctly pronounce sound. As cited SanFilippo (2013), "verbally praising a child for correctly producing a target speech sound will likely increase the likelihood that the child will produce the sound correctly on subsequent productions." In negative reinforcement the result is ceasing of a certain behavior or pain. For example, the learning through negative reinforcement may result in removal of aversive stimulus. If someone does not like to eat beans and peas, than he or she will more likely repeat a certain behavior if they are given an option not to eat beans of peas.
Positive and negative punishments are also a part of learning through operant conditioning. When a behavior is followed by the delivery of an aversive stimulus, the event is called positive punishment (touching a hot stove) and when it is followed by the removal of appetitive stimulus then we are referring to negative punishment (Pierce and Cheney, p. 160). An example of negative punishment is when parent forbid they children to watch their favorite cartoon because they were fighting with some other child.
The third type of learning that is explored in this essay is observational learning. People tend to observe and watch how do others behave when exposed to different stimuli and learn in this way. People whose behavior we repeat become our models. There are four processes that are crucial for the observer leans from a modern. These processes are attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation (Pierce and Cheney, p. 169). If the observer pays a close attention to the model, if he memorized the behavioral pattern, and is capable to reproduce it, then he will lean. For example, every child sees in its teacher a model. After school, children tend to repeat the words of their teacher and when asked what they will be when they grow up, they say-a teacher. Many researchers have found a close link between watching violent programs of TV and aggressive behavior. The results point out that violent content on TV increases aggressive behavior. As children are frequently exposed to violent content on TV and video games, it is important for every parent to carefully monitor their children and reduce exposure to violence to minimum. Otherwise, children-observers will use violent characters on television as their models and incorporate their type of behavior.
Pierce W. David and Cheney D. Carl. (2013) Behavioral Analysis and Learning- Chapter 6
SanFilippo, Deanna (2013).Confidence Building and Positive Reinforcement. The Perfect Playground. Retrieved from: http://www.theperfectplaygroundny.com/blog/?p=210