L11 - Operant Conditioning Flashcards Preview

PSYC1020 - Introduction to Psychology - Minds, Brains and Behaviour > L11 - Operant Conditioning > Flashcards

Flashcards in L11 - Operant Conditioning Deck (12):

Operant Conditioning :

Operant (instrumental) conditioning: Learning controlled by the consequences of the organism’s behaviour

Operants: Behaviours produced in order to receive a reward


Classical vs Operant:

  • Classical = Autonomic reflex response + stimuli presented independent of behaviour (e.g. irrespective of the amount of saliva dog produces, UCS and CS are still presented)
  • Operant = Voluntary behaviours + stimulus presence/absence is conditional on the behaviour (e.g. only gets the treat when it performs the trick)


Law of effect:

If a stimulus followed by a behaviour results in a reward, stimulus is more likely to elicit behaviour in the future

  • No “ah ha!” moment for determining the correct solution; just became more efficient at the trial and error process


Extinction burst:

Brief ↑ in the intensity of a response during extinction


Positive reinforcement techniques used for animal training:

  • Shaping: Progressively reinforcing behaviours that come closer and closer to the target behaviour
  • Chaining: Linking simple interrelated behaviours together, with each behaviour becoming a cue for the next behaviour


Phobia and superstitious behaviours:

  • Accidental operant conditioning might be partially responsible for superstitious behaviours
  • Phobia two-process theory: Acquire phobia via classical → Strengthened and persists due to operational with ongoing avoidance of the stimulus acting as a negative reinforcement


Types of Operant Conditioning: Positive vs negative:

  • Positive = Adding a stimulus
  • Negative = Removing a stimulus


Types of Operant Conditioning: Reinforcement vs punishment:

Reinforcement = Trying todesired behaviour

  • Partial reinforcement (Humphreys' Paradox): Behaviours are more difficult to extinguish if they have only been occasionally reinforced rather than continuously reinforced (e.g. gambling) [See schedules of reinforcement]

Punishment = Trying to ↓ unwanted behaviour

  • Only tells subject what NOT to do without providing information about what behaviour should be done instead
  • Can result in anxiety, subversive behaviour and aggression
  • Best applied selectively IN CONJUNCTION with reinforcing a desired behaviour


Type of operant conditioning: EXAMPLES

Positive reinforcement: Award (desirable stimulus applied) provided when grades are high (desired behaviour)

Negative reinforcement: Car stops beeping (undesirable stimulus removed) at you when you put your seatbelt on (desired behaviour)

Positive punishment: Child gets in trouble (undesirable stimulus applied) for telling a lie (unwanted behaviour)

Negative punishment: Child is sent to bed without dessert (desirable stimulus removed) for refusing to eat their spinach at dinner (unwanted behaviour)


Schedules of Reinforcement:

Effectiveness of operant conditioning is determined by the pattern in which a desired behaviour is promoted during the acquisition phase. There are 2 dimensions

  • Continuous reinforcement
  • Partial reinforcement


Continuous reinforcement =

Consequence is given every time a target behaviour is performed.

Humphreys’ Paradox – A phenomenon whereby behaviours are more difficult to extinguish if they have only been occasionally reinforced rather than continuously reinforced


Partial reinforcement :


Reinforcing a target behaviour intermittently rather than continuously

  • Fixed ratio - reinforcement is provided after a fixed number of responses
  • Fixed interval - reinforcement is provided after a fixed time has elapsed (provided a behaviour is performed)
  • Variable ratio - reinforcement is provided after an averaged number of responses.
  • Variable interval - reinforcement is provided after an average time has elapsed (provided a behaviour is performed)

Ratio and Variable are more resistant to extinction