Psychology: Psychology and Operant Conditioning- Reinforcement Essay examples

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Lecture 3: History, Foundations, & Modern Approaches 09.06.11

Practicalities – discussion of class study strategies

Warm-up – see activity sheet




- Influences on Functionalism - Charles Darwin - Phylogenetic development and continuity - Adaptation (variation and selection)
 - Francis Galton - Applied Darwin’s theory to the human mind - Studies of Eminence, mental capacity, individual differences, quantitative techniques

- William James - Mind is an organ that adapts to its environment - Structural and functional - Pragmatist - Chapters on reasoning, associationism

John Dewey - Recognition of a problem, isolation of the relevant features, formulation of alternative solutions, testing the solution

Early psychologists tried introspection (self-reflection) as a way to study thinking, but found it too hard to do reliably

- John B. Watson - Focused on ‘human behavior’ - No point to study inaccessible events of the mind - Instead must focus on Stimulus-Response

- B.F. Skinner - Operant conditioning; Classical conditioning

Classical Conditioning | Operant Conditioning- Reinforcement or punishment- Change probability of response |

Focus on BEHAVIORS, explanations in terms of -

Works well for simple learning scenarios ... but, how would a behaviorist explain language? -
How do you account for accurate processing of totally new experiences?
How do you explain thinking using S-R theory?

- Behaviorists went to the opposite extreme by finding rules of behavior and learning without any mention of what happens inside the head (thinking)

- It is still possible to talk about the mental without resorting to introspectionism?

Cognitive Psychology - Cognitive psychology studies the components (pieces) of thinking, from perception to action.
 - Modern cognitive psychology uses careful experimentation to figure out what (information processing) steps in the head produce behavior

Foundations - Information Theory 
 - Claude Shannon - A Mathematical Theory of Communication (1948)
- Computation
 - Alan Turing - computability (algorithms) (1936)
- Donald Broadbent - improve human skills; theories of IP
- George Miller - chunks of information in memory (1956)
- Alan Newell and Herbert Simon (1955)

- “Cognitive Psychology”, Ulric Neisser’s - published (1967)

Overview and Approaches

Example: approaching an issue
- Why do people forget?
 - Decay vs. interference
 - Both predict people forget with time
- How do you tell which is right?
- Find a situation with different predictions:

* Do people forget as much when asleep?

* Decay - __________;