Behaviourist And Cognitive Development

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400747 Behavioural Foundations of Nursing Practice
Week 5:
Growth and development across the lifespan 3
Behaviourist and Cognitive development models


To examine key concepts and principles of normal growth and development, and the application to nursing practice in care of the person.

To explain the principles associated with behaviourist principles

To describe theories of cognitive development.

Lifespan development

Today, the focus is on understanding behaviourist and cognitive theories of development across the lifespan which has implications for the safe: planning and delivery of individualised and holistic nursing care.

Defines learning in terms of observable behaviour
Distinguish between
-PERFORMANCE- what a person does (behaviour)
LEARNING- “a change in behaviour that is a result of one’s experience with the environment” (Jones & Creedy, 2008, p. 68)
Behaviourists usually explain learning in relation to classical and operant conditioning
John B. Watson (1878-1958)
Argued if psychology was to be a science, it must concentrate on observable behaviour “Little Albert” study (Watson & Raynor, 1920), showed that emotional responses, including phobias, can be conditioned or learned (Harris, 1979)
A phobia is “excessive fear of objects or situations” (Baron & Kalsher, 2008, p. 443).

Classical Conditioning

Learned involuntary or automatic or reflexive response to a stimulus

Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) demonstrated this type of learning in his experiments with dogs

Classical Conditioning (before conditioning)
When UCS automatically triggers an involuntary, unconditioned response (UCR)

Basic Processes of Classical Conditioning
establishes or strengthens a CR ( i.e. by repeated CS (or previously neutral stimulus) with _UCS pairing > (Leads to) CR)
a CS gradually ceases to elicit a CR when no longer paired with a UCS
Spontaneous Recovery:
Return of a weakened CR to a CS some time after extinction

Basic Principles of Classical Conditioning
Stimulus Generalization: Tendency for stimuli similar to CS to elicit similar conditioned responses

Stimulus Discrimination: organism learns to respond to certain stimuli but not others (Baron & Kalsher, 2002, 2005, 2008).

Operant Conditioning

Also called Instrumental Conditioning

Based on voluntary behaviour
Uses consequences to modify occurrence & form of emitted voluntary behaviour
Reinforcers - behaviour enhancers
Punishers -behaviour suppressers

Operant Conditioning: Acquisition & Shaping of Behaviour
Reinforces only one response (e.g. bar press) and eliminates other responses
Reinforces closer and closer approximations to desired behaviour (successful approximations)

Shaping or successive approximation or Chaining

Used to condition performance which is not currently in a person’s repertoire
Build a behaviour by dividing it into small steps
Teach one at a time until desired behaviour is reached
Learn final behaviour first + reinforcement
2nd behaviour + 1st + reinforcement

Event that increases the frequency of occurrence of the behaviour that follows it Reinforcers are behaviour enhancers
Positive Reinforcement: giving pleasant stimulus when operant response is made
Negative Reinforcement: taking away an unpleasant stimulus when operant response is made.
Primary Reinforcer: stimulus that naturally strengthens any response preceding it.
Secondary Reinforcer: acquired behaviour enhancer (e.g. money, praise, etc.)

Response that causes a behaviour to occur with less frequency

Weakens behaviour
Example: rat given electric shock when going down wrong maze pathway
Side effects: intrinsically unpleasant
Encourages escape, avoidance, behavioural and emotional responses
NEVER used in nursing care (see ANMC Code of Ethics, 2006)

Observational or Social Learning or