What is operant conditioning? How could it be useful in your life? There are many ways to explain the types of conditioning and other terminology that participates with the basic forms of learning. The history of operant conditioning and many examples will be given to thoroughly explain the operant conditioning and how it was developed. Operant conditioning is the underlying frame of apprehension and knowledge. In other words it is a type of learning in which the likelihood of a behavior is increased or decreased by the use of reinforcement or punishment.
Operant conditioning deals more with the cognitive thought process and it could be used on animals or humans. The history goes way back to the year 1837 with Charles Darwin, who studied plants and animals. Darwin studied the way animals related with each other and their reactions. (1) “In 1888, George Romans was the first to investigate systematically the comparative psychology of intelligence using a anecdotal method. ” In 1898, Edward Thorndike was the first empirical and theoretical analyses of animal learning. In 1900, C. L. Morgan studied animal psychology and the way the animals mind works.
In 1904, Ivan Pavlov discovered the conditioned response. (1)”In 1925, Wolfgang Kohler developed first cognitive analysis of learning in animals. ” Last was B. F. Skinner in 1938, who developed the basic concept of operant conditioning, claiming that this type of learning was not the result of stimulus-response learning. An example of operant conditioning that happened in my life was when I was 7 years old was when I went to the dentist office like I have done prior years before. I always enjoyed going to the dentist office because I got a new toothbrush and a sticker. This year was a little different.
When the dentist came over to check my teeth he said that I have a cavity and needed to get it filled as soon as possible. So that same day my mother and the doctor decided to do this. When the doctor pricked me with a needle and used a high speed to drill into my tooth, I began to cry. Once he was finished he told me that if I was to brush and floss everyday I would not get cavities. The next 6months came around and I sat in the chair very nervous. I heard the drill on another patient and I began to cry. The dentist came over and looked at my teeth and said due to my excellent brushing and flossing I have no cavities.
I will always remember the sound of the drill and will get nervous, this is because I had a bad experience and do not want to go through with it again. So therefore I will always brush and floss to prevent going through what I had to go through. In operant conditioning, the subject must first emit the response that the experimenter plans to reward. (2)”Shaping is the name given to those initial steps needed to get the subject to engage in the behavior that is to be rewarded. ” In other words shaping can also be defined as a procedure in which reinforcement is used to guide a response closer and closer to a desired response.
In shaping, the form of an existing response is gradually changed across successive trials towards a desired target behavior using differential reinforcement. The principles of shaping are present in everyday interactions with the environment. A great example that I once saw on the discovery channel was a female named Tracy wanted to teach her dog, Alvin, to bring her the TV remote control. She places the remote in Alvin’s mouth and then sits down in her favorite TV–watching chair. Alvin doesn’t know what to do with the remote, and he just drops it on the floor.
So Tracy teaches him by first praising him every time he accidentally walks toward her before dropping the remote. He likes the praise, so he starts to walk toward her with the remote more often. Then she praises him only when he brings the remote close to the chair. When he starts doing this often, she praises him only when he manages to bring the remote right up to her. Pretty soon, he brings her the remote regularly, and she has succeeded in shaping a response. Positive and negative reinforcement is a certain stimulus that does not necessarily mean a “good” or “bad” thing. 2)”Positive reinforcement occurs when a particular stimulus is presented after a behavior, and the behavior increases as a result. ” The word positive does not mean “good” in this case, but means that something is added. Negative reinforcement is when a particular stimulus is removed after a behavior, and this causes the behavior to increase as a result. Negative in this sense does not mean “bad”, but that something is subtracted or taken away. For example, when I was a student in English I had to rewrite a term paper and by doing so I was rewarded for that rewrite by a better grade, getting the grade is the positive rein forcer.
An example of negative reinforcement is when I got a speeding ticket on a certain road and by getting that speeding ticket I became more aware of my speed when I drove down that same road. Getting the speeding ticket is the negative rein forcer. Just like there is positive and negative reinforcement, there is also positive and negative punishment. (3)”Positive punishment is the presentation of a stimulus that decreases the future likelihood a behavior will occur. ” Negative punishment is the removal of a stimulus that decreases the future likelihood a behavior will occur.
Punishment refers to adding something aversive in order to decrease a behavior. An example of a negative punishment would be when my dog went to the bathroom in the house, I brought him to the spot, showed him it, spanked him and then put him outside, hoping that he would realize to use the restroom outside. An example of a positive punishment would be when I pet my dogs fur around his ribs, he does not like it and tries to bite me. By my dog showing he does not like it I will know not to pet my dog in that area again.
Another type of learning is Latent and Observational. (3)”Latent learning is the type of learning that occurs, but you don’t really see it (it’s not exhibited) until there is some reinforcement or incentive to demonstrate it. ” Observational learning is basically what the word says, its the process of acquiring information by observing others. Observational learning can take place at any stage in life, it is thought to be more important during childhood, due to having parents, teachers and any other higher authority.
You tend to learn more being a child and going to school so you are observing many things and different people. Kohler and Thorndike were the first to use these methods on animals. Doing so they realize after a certain amount of time the animals would do what they expected the animals to achieve. One example of latent learning that has happened in my life was when I was in a car going to school with my sister every day, but my sister was driving all the time, I have may learned the way to get to school, but have no reason to demonstrate this knowledge.
However, when my sister got sick one day and I had to drive myself to school for the first time, I got to school following the same route my sister has gone every day driving, that is when I have demonstrated latent learning. An example of observational learning was when my nephew was learning how to tie his shoes, he watched me do it over and over again eventually being able to tie his own shoes. Another type of conditioning is Classical. (3)”Classical Conditioning is the type of learning made famous by Pavlov’s experiments with dogs. Pavlov presented dogs with food, and measured their salivary response (how much they drooled). Then he began ringing a bell just before presenting the food. At first, the dogs did not begin salivating until the food was presented. After a while, however, the dogs began to salivate when the sound of the bell was presented. They learned to associate the sound of the bell with the presentation of the food. As far as their immediate physiological responses were concerned, the sound of the bell became equivalent to the presentation of the food.
Pavlov referred to this as a conditioned stimulus abbreviated as CS. Presentation of the significant stimulus necessarily rebukes an innate response, or a reflex response. (3)”Pavlov named these the unconditioned stimulus or also known as US and unconditioned response or UR . ” If the CS and the US are constantly paired, eventually the two stimuli become affiliated and the organism begins to harvest a behavioral response to the CS. Pavlov called this the conditioned response or CR.
Examples of US, UR, CS and CR are if you drink a sharp, acidic wine (US) your salivary glands start to work (UR). These reflexes can be innate or learned in themselves. So if I drink this sharp, acidic wine in the same bar every night you may come to salivate every time you walk into that bar. So now the bar becomes the conditioned stimulus (CS) and the salivation is the conditioned response (CR). Operant and classical conditioning while similar, maintain several fundamental differences as well as similarities.
They differ where classical conditioning requires a stimulus to be presented with or during a response, and only links a CS with an old UCR and operant conditioning, introduces a stimulus after behavior and encourages new behavior. They are similar to each other in that they are both forms of learning, their responses can both be extinguished and spontaneously recovered. References: 1. http://www. pigeon. psy. tufts. edu/psych26/history. htm 2. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/operant_conditioning. htm 3. Understanding Psychology by Robert S. Feldman Chapter 5