Classical Conditioning Flashcards Preview

PSYC1020 - Introduction to Psychology - Minds, Brains and Behaviour > Classical Conditioning > Flashcards

Flashcards in Classical Conditioning Deck (10):

Learning in Psychology is...

A kind of behaviour theory

  • Enduring changes in respond to a stimulus due to environment, past experiences, etc.
  • Thus, learning theory typically explains changes in an organism’s bahaviour


Habituation & Sensitisation:

Habituation = Responding less strongly to repeated stimuli over time; present in even single cell organisms

  • Found in most basic form of organism

Sensitisation = Respond MORE strongly (or similarly) to repeated stimuli over time

In human experiment, typically measure physiological responses such as heart rate, sweat, etc.


Classical Conditioning: Terminology

  • UCS = Stimulus that does instinctually elicit an automatic, reflexive response from the organism (non-neutral stimulus).
  • UCR = An automatic/instinctual response to a non-neutral stimulus.
  • CS = A neutral stimulus that does not elicit any response.
  • CR = A response that was previously associated with a non-neutral stimulus (UCS) that is now elicited by a neutral stimulus (CS).


Conditioned stimulus should be easy to perceive and novel (no previously learned responses)

Unconditioned stimulus should elicit an automatic (not previously learned), observable response


Phases of Conditioning:

  1. Acquisition Phase
  2. Extinction phase
  3. Spontaneous recovery phase




Acquisition Phase:

  • CS is presented just before the UCS (seconds); ↑ trials = ↑ CR strength
  • CR will never become identical to UCR - differences in strength etc.
  • ↑ Temporal contiguity (↓ time between CS and UCS) = ↑ Learning
  • MORE importantly, CS must be informative about the arrival of the UCS (forward conditioning)
  • Presenting CS or UCS alone = ↓ Learning


Acquisition: Temporal Contiguity & more definitions

Trial = Each pairing of the CS and UCS.

Inter-Trial Interval (ITI) = Time between trials.

Inter-Stimulus Interval (ISI) = Time between start of CS and start of UCS.

Forward conditioning = When the CS is presented before the UCS.

Backward conditioning = When the UCS is presented before the CS.


Extinction phase:

  • New response (absence of salivation) gradually inhibits the CR;

  • Does NOT mean the subject is forgetting; the CR does not vanish completely but rather becomes overshadowed by the new response; evident by spontaneous recovery phase


Spontaneous recovery phase:

  • When an overshadowed CR re-emerges (in a weaker form after a delay if the CS is re-presented
  • Related to the renewal effect; response re-emerges when exposed to same environment (e.g. if something scary happens in a certain area, returning to that area will cause the fear to re-present


Properties of Stimulus:

  • Stimulus generalisation: When stimuli similar (but not identical) to the original CS elicits the CR
    • Stimulus discrimination: CR from unoriginal CS will be weaker than to the original CS
  • Higher-order conditioning: Developing a CR to a new CS after the new CS has been paired with a previously learned CS
    • ↑ Stimuli = ↓ Response strength
  • Latent inhibition: Difficulty classically conditioning to a CS we have repeatedly experienced already without the UCS (e.g. advertising for well-known brands)


Research & Interventions:

  • Partly responsible for the acquisition of fears: "Little Albert" experiment - Able to pair a CS (a rat; generalised to other furry animals) to an UCS (a loud noise) to produce a CR (crying and fear)

Treatment of phobias:

  • Gradual exposure: For example, put little Albert in the room full with children who do not fear of rats.
  • Counter-conditioning: pairing the fear stimulus with other pleasant stimuli.  For example, associate rats with favourite snacks (have a snack every time a rat is present).