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Old Saturday, September 17, 2011
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Default Psychology: Learning theories

Anyone let me know wat r the theories of learning....i didn't find them in my books..plz help out
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dear theories of classical conditioning,operant conditioning,learning by trial and error ,and instrumental learning,,these all are included in the theories of learning...try to search them..if you cant find any ,write here,will help you then.
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Dear these are you learning Theories from VU Notes.

Learning
Classical conditioning
• Operant conditioning
• Cognitive approaches to learning.
Learning is commonly understood as the act, process, or experience of gaining knowledge or skill.
For a layperson it is knowledge or skill gained through schooling or study. With reference to Psychology;
it is the behavioral modification especially through experience or conditioning
The best definition of learning is that: Learning is a relatively permanent change in behavior,
and the frequency of its occurrence; this change is not automatic and results from practice
or experience
Learning usually refers to improved performance, acquisition of skills, and a positive change in
behavior; however the change may also be negative in nature
Learning is distinguished from behavioral changes arising from such processes as maturation and
illness, but does apply to motor skills, such as driving a car, to intellectual skills, such as reading, and
to attitudes and values, such as prejudice.
There is evidence that neurotic symptoms and patterns of mental illness are also learned behaviors.
Learning occurs throughout the life span in humans and animals, and learned behavior accounts for a
large proportion of all behavior in the higher animals, especially in humans.
ypes/ Forms of Learning: In Terms of the Content
onsidering the content of what has been learnt, there are varieties of learning:
Verbal learning
Motor learning
Problem solving
erbal Learning
asically man is a verbal learner who learns about the environment through experiences.
Verbal learning involves the person’s own association, experiences and relations with the
phenomenon that has been learned.
Motor Learning
ii. Motor Learning
• It involves the practical application of the learned phenomena.
• There are various tasks/ activities in which motor skills are of primary importance as
compared to the ones requiring verbally learned material; e.g. learning the skills like playing
football, tennis, cricket etc; or the training of technicians whose motor skills need to be
highly efficient.
• In learning motor skills two things are important; quickness of movements and the results
that are achieved through it.
iii. Problem Solving
• Problem solving tasks usually involves trial and error and primarily include verbal processes.
• While doing the problem-solving task, individual learns many responses that can be helpful for him
in different situations

How Do We Learn?
Three main explanations of learning are:
• Classical conditioning
• Operant conditioning
• Cognitive approaches to learning.

Basic Terminology
Stimulus
A physical energy source that has an effect on a sense organ, thus producing a response.
i. Response
• The action, behavior, or reaction triggered by a stimulus.
Environment
• External factors, variables, conditions, influences, or circumstance affecting one’s development or
behavior.
Variable
• A behavior, factor, setting, or event that can change/ vary in amount or kind.Classical
Conditioning
• Why are children scared of darkness?
• Why some children jump with joy at the sight of a cat and some start screaming in fright?
• Why does one coming from office start feeling relaxed at the very sight of his home?
• Why does one start feeling bad at the thought of going to a dentist?
• Why does one starts feeling hungry at the sight of one’s favorite fast food joint?
Classical conditioning provides answers to all these questions
Classical conditioning forms an association between two stimuli.
Classical Conditioning is when a stimulus acquires the ability to cause a response that was previously
caused by another stimulus. This learning process essentially allows us to predict what is going to
happen.

Historical background
• In 1879 Ivan Pavlov, the Russian physiologist and pioneer
of classical conditioning, began his research work on
the digestive process, primarily that of dogs.
• He won Nobel Prize for that in 1904.
• The focal point of his investigation was the salivation reflex
in dogs.
• It was already known that the dogs would salivate if food powder
were led into their mouths, as it was a ‘reflex.’
• The dogs would salivate every time the food powder was presented.
• Pavlov observed that after some time, the dogs at times salivated just before food was put into their
mouths. They also salivated at the sight of the food, and even at the sight of the lab assistant who
brought food for them.
• This is where the concept of classical
conditioning emerged.

Classical Conditioning: The Theory
• A type of learning in which a previously
neutral stimulus starts eliciting a response
that was originally the response to a
natural stimulus i.e., a stimulus that was
meant to produce that response; it so
happens because the neutral stimulus had
been closely associated with the natural
stimulus.

Basic Terminology in Classical Conditioning:
i.Reflex
• An automatic, unlearned response
resulting from a specific stimulus.

ii. Un Conditioned Stimulus (UCS)
A stimulus that elicits a response reflexively, naturally, and reliably.
iii. Un Conditioned Response (UCR)
• A natural, reflexive, reliable, response of the UCS.
iv. Conditioned Stimulus (CS)
• A primarily neutral stimulus which, when paired with the UCS, starts evoking a
response (different from its own natural response) and the same as UCR.
v. Conditioned Response (CR)
• After conditioning, the CS begins to elicit a new, learned
response i.e., CR.
Pavlovian Classical Conditioning


John.B.Watson: (1878- 1958)
• American psychologist initially trained in introspection at the University of Chicago but found it
extremely vague and mentalistic.
• He became interested in experimental research with animals.
• Gave a revolutionary, pragmatic approach often known as ‘radical behaviorism’.
• For Watson, observable behavior is all that psychology should be looking at.
• Environment and external world (environmental stimuli) is what shapes and determines behavior.
Before Conditioning
• Learning is what matters in what a person is, and not the inborn instincts, impulses, drive, id, or
unconscious motivation. An understanding of learning will encompass all aspects of personality
Impact of Learning Experience
“Give me a dozen healthy infants, well formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in, and
I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select__
doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant- chief, and yes, even beggar- man and thief, regardless of his talents,
penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors” (Watson, 1924).

Little Albert’s Case
Learned Fear
• 1920: Developing Fear: Watson and Rosalie Rayner’s experimen
• Eleven- month old Albert who enjoyed playing with a cute white rat was made afraid of it by
linking a loud frightening sound with the appearance of the rat.
• The experiment was further expanded and Watson and Rayner demonstrated that the fear of the rat
could be generalized to all sorts of stimuli: a dog, a cotton ball and a Santa Clause. In Albert’s case,
the same sequence of events i.e., presenting the rat with the gong was repeated three times; on all
repetitions he began crying, showing that a classical association had been established.
• Seven conditioning trials were repeated on two occasions and then the rat was presented without
the gong; Albert still cried.
• Watson called this ‘conditioned emotional response’.
• Watson and Rayner worked with Albert once again after about a week.
• He was presented with the same objects.
• This time he showed the same fear response towards other objects similar to the rat i.e., cotton
balls, white fur, and a Santa Clause mask having a white beard.
This indicated that ‘stimulus generalization’ had taken place
• The researchers had plans to experiment on unlearning the emotional response
• For three weeks they worked on extinguishing the response using Pavlov’s ‘extinction’ procedure:
presenting the rat without gong. But could not achieve success.
• Watson and Rayner could not get a chance to undo the learning as the child’s mother removed him
from the hospital.
Before Conditioning:
Stages and Extensions of Classical ConditioningAcquisition
• Extinction
• Spontaneous recovery
• Stimulus generalization
• Stimulus discrimination
• Higher Order Conditioning

Acquisition
The stage when the stimulus in question generates a conditioned response; The stage of initial learning
when responses are established and then gradually strengthened as a result of repeated pairing and
presentation.
• This is when classical conditioning can be said to have taken place.Extinction
• The unlearning of the conditioned response by weakening it, leading to its disappearance; using the
same principles as those for learning the response.
• The state when the conditioned stimulus i.e. bell, buzzer, gong etc does not accompany the
unconditioned stimulus e.g. food.
• The response gradually diminishes, extinguishes, or declines, as the UCS repeatedly does not appear
with the CS.

Spontaneous Recovery
• Does the response disappear permanently, once extinction has taken place? Not always!
• Pavlovian experiments showed that some days after extinction, the dog salivated again on hearing
the bell/ buzzer.
Consider the case of someone who left smoking but the very sight of someone else who is
smoking makes him feel like smoking.
The same may happen with a child whose fear of dogs had been treated.
The re occurring responses are comparatively weaker in nature than they initially were; similarly their
extinction takes place sooner and easily.

Generalization
• Stimuli similar to the original CS may elicit the same response as to the CS or UCS e.g. a buzzer
responded to as a bell.
• Pavlovian experiments showed that the dogs also salivated on the tones that were similar to the
original tone but were never used while presenting the food.
• Such responses are not as strong as the original ones.
• Consider the case of Albert’s fear of all white- furry objects

Discrimination
•The process whereby the organism learns to restrict its response to one specific stimulus;
differentiating between similar stimuli.
• Pavlov’s dogs salivated only at the tones, which were similar in nature.
• Consider the case of a child who is scared of the neighbor's dog alone (that barks every
time the child passes by), and not all dogs.

Higher Order Conditioning
• A process when an already conditioned stimulus is repeatedly paired with a neutral stimulus, and
ultimately the neutral stimulus begins to evoke the same response as to the original stimulus.
• Consider the case of a child who was scared of the neighbor’s dog, became scared of all
dogs, and finally started screaming at the mere name of a dog.

Applications of Classical Conditioning in Everyday Life
• Negative emotional responses: fears, phobias-----fear of reptiles, dark places, and school phobia
• Positive emotional responses: Feelings of relaxation, and happiness----thinking of going on a
holiday.
• Advertising: Associating model with the product.
• Psychotherapy; Systematic desensitization, aversive therapy.

Conditioned Drug Response
•Vomiting inducing drugs were repeatedly paired with the sound of a tone; eventually the mere sound of
that tone could produce the same vomiting response. Consider the children who vomit at the name of
cough syrup, or who faint at the name of a clinic.
Smoking, Coffee, and Tea
•People who are addicted to caffeine and nicotine start feeling relaxed and stimulated even before the
intake.

Over Eating
•Most obese people start feeling hungry at the sight of a restaurant or at the smell of food.
Classical Conditioning and the Immune System
•Studies on rats have shown that a neutral stimulus like saccharin sweetened water when repeatedly paired
with an immuno-suppressant drug, started eliciting the same response; the very taste of saccharin had the
same effect on immune system. functioning.
•Objects associated with a state of low immunity may lead to a low immunity state in future.
Classical Conditioning and the School Psychology
An overly strict school atmosphere may lead to school phobia, or test fear
The same rule can be applied to develop a positive feeling for school by making the school environment
pleasant
OPERANT CONDITIONING

• Type of learning in which a voluntary response becomes stronger or weaker depending on its
positive or negative consequences.
• The organism plays an active role and ‘operates’ on environment to produce the desired
outcome.
Operant conditioning forms an association between a behavior and a consequence.
Consequences have to be immediate, or clearly linked to the behavior. With verbal humans, we can explain
the connection between the consequence and the behavior, even if they are separated in time. For example,
you might tell your friends that you'll buy dinner for them since they helped you move, or a parent might
explain that the child can't go to summer camp because of her bad grades. With very young children,
humans who don't have verbal skills, and animals, you can't explain the connection between the
consequence and the behavior. For the animal, the consequence has to be immediate.
Four Possible Consequences
There are four possible consequences of any behavior:
Something Good can start or be presented
Something Good can end or be taken away
Something Bad can start or be presented
Something Bad can end or be taken away

Applying these terms to the Four Possible Consequences
• Something Good can start or be presented: behavior increases = Positive Reinforcement
(R+).
• Something Good can end or be taken away: behavior decreases = Negative Punishment
(P-).
• Something Bad can start or be presented: behavior decreases = Positive Punishment
(P+).
• Something Bad can end or be taken away, so behavior increases = Negative
Reinforcement (R-).
Thorndike’s Law of Effect
Any response leading to an outcome that is satisfying for the organism is likely to be repeated; a response
leading to an outcome that is not satisfying is not likely to be repeated.
Association by Contiguity
• The organism forms an association or connection between the response and its
consequences. For it to be effective, the response and the outcome have to be closely
linked__ both in time and space.
• The theory drew attention towards the significance of reward and punishment in learning
new behavior.

Criticism against Thorndike’s Approach
It was not clear about what exactly ‘satisfying’ meant

Some points to ponder
Have you ever thought?
• Why do teachers give silver and gold stars on children’s workbooks?
• Why do horses gallop faster when the rider whips them?
• Why do parents allow children to watch cartoons when they finish their homework in time?
• Why do we find surprise gifts in the packs of detergents?
• Why do employees who earn profit to the organization get a bonus at the end of year? And,
• Why do children show temper tantrums in the presence of guests even when they know the
mother is going to scold and punish?
The answers to all these questions can be found in the operant conditioning approach
Burrhus Frederic Skinner: 1904-1990
• American Psychologist and the founder of Operant Conditioning.
• His theory is somewhat similar to Thorndike’s, but it was actually Watson who impressed him.
The Typical procedure in Skinner’s Operant conditioning experiments
• A special apparatus usually known as skinner’s box is used.
• Laboratory animals learn to press a lever so that food is delivered to them.
• The environment is controlled.
• The animal operates on the environment, and as a result of its behavior it may be rewarded or
punished. Food is the reward.
• The consequence determines if the response will be repeated or not.

Consequences of Behavior









Consequences of Behavior; Reinforcement
Reinforcement is used for increasing the probability that the preceding behavior will be repeated
through a stimulus. Also some consequences may deter the re occurrence of behavior. Reinforcement can
be in the form of:

• Positive reinforcement
• Negative reinforcement

Other consequences may be:
• Punishment
• No reinforcement

Reinforcer
•The stimulus that increases the probability of repetition or re occurrence of a behavior
•It can be material as well a non material in nature.

Positive Reinforcer/ Reward
It is a stimulus whose introduction brings about an increase in the preceding respons
Punishment
Punishment is an unpleasant or painful stimulus whose introduction following a certain behavior decreases
the likelihood that the behavior will occur again.


No reinforcement
This also deters or stops a behavior from being repeated.

Schedules of Reinforcement
•The procedures involving specific frequency and timing of reinforcing a desired behavior

SCHEDULES OF REINFORCEMENT



Continuous Versus Partial Schedules
Continuous Schedule
Reinforcing the behavior every time it is repeated.
Partial Schedule
The behavior is reinforced but not every time.


Response





PARTIAL SCHEDULES OF REINFORCEMENT CONSIDERING THE FREQUENCY OR
NUMBER OF RESPONSES




Fixed Ratio Schedule
The organism is reinforced only after a specific number of
responses is made e.g. salary after 7 days.

Variable Ratio Schedule
The organism is reinforced after a varying number of
responses is made (not a fixed number) e.g. surprise
bonus.

PARTIAL SCHEDULES OF REINFORCEMENT CONSIDERING THE PERIOD OR
AMOUNT OF TIME

Fixed- Interval Schedule
The organism is reinforced after pre fixed time intervals e.g.
giving students a candy every two days.

Variable- Interval Schedule
The organism is reinforced after around an average time
interval instead of fixed ones e.g. at times giving 2 candies
after 6days, and one after two days.
Remember!!! Immediate and appropriate reinforcement is essential for learning.
Consistency is the golden rule; follow the pattern of reinforcement regularly and never let the organism
feel that his/her/its behavior is not been observed and the progress not followed.

The most effective schedule of reinforcement is the variable-interval schedule.
Shaping
• Successive approximations of a required/-desired response are reinforced until that response is fully
learnt:
• In the beginning each and every success is reinforced with a reward, no matter how small the success.
• Once the desired response is learnt the reinforcer immediately follows it, every time it happens.
• Once learnt the behavior, in many cases, the organism may not need reinforcement since many
behaviors are self-reinforcing e.g. learning to play a musical instrument.

Shaping Can Best Be Used For
•Learning alphabets, vocabulary, mathematical tables, or a new language.
•Learning to play a musical Instrument.
•Appropriate classroom behavior.
•Training mentally handicapped children.

Behavior Modification
•A therapeutic/intervention strategy used for modifying behavior in such a manner that the frequency of
desired behavior is increased up to the optimal level, and the frequency of undesired behavior is brought
down to the minimum…or to extinction level.
•The intervention is based upon the operant principles of learning.

Steps in Behavior Modification
•Identification of goals in terms of target behavior.
•Recording the preliminary/background information concerning the behavior in question.
•Designing the intervention, issues involved, and deciding its components.
•Implementation of the planned program as well as careful monitoring.
•Recording the events, progress, and problems during the implementation phase.
•Evaluating the program and making alterations if required.
Token Economy/ Token System:
•The person is rewarded with some form of a token every time a desired behavior is exhibited.
•The token can be play money/token or a chip representing money; it can be the silver or gold stars earned
by the child; parents can give different colored paper tokens for good behavior.
•After a specific number of tokens have been earned, they can be exchanged for something desirable.
Contingency Contracting
•A written contract is held between the client and the therapist, specifying all goal-behaviors as well as
consequences; parents and teachers can also use it.
•The contract is followed strictly no matter if the consequences of behavior are negative, and the client may
in fact dislike them; the purpose is to promote target behavior e.g. if an over-eater fails to refrain from
confectionary throughout the week, he will have to send a donation cheque for drinks in a marathon; the
cheques are prepared at the beginning of the program.

Who is Operant Conditioning Most Effective with?
•Children
•Animals
•Mentally handicapped

Applications of Operant Conditioning in Real Life Situations
• Child rearing.
• Classroom management.
• Teaching of skills.
• Animal taming.
• Advertising.
• Psychological intervention and Psycho- therapy: behavior modification, assertiveness training, and
token economy.

Child Rearing
Things to remember:
•If you make rules, stick to them; if you can not stick to them then don’t make rules.
•Provide immediate reinforcement as promised.
•Consider no reinforcement along with positive/ negative reinforcement and punishment.
Classroom Management
•In different situations positive/negative reinforcement, punishment, and no reinforcement work.
•The same rules apply as is in child rearing.
Significant results in case of:
• Discipline
• Memorization e.g. learning tables
• Vocabulary
• New skills
Shaping procedures are of special help in classroom settings.

Organizational Behavior
•Fixed wages after a fixed period or variable wages depending on performance have different effects in
different situations.
Psychotherapy/care for special needs/health psychology
•More effective when combined with cognitive approach for:
•Children with special needs.
•Quitting smoking or alcohol.
•Weight reduction programs.
•Compliance with medical advice.

How do many youngsters start taking drugs?
•Operant conditioning principles operate here too. What positively reinforces addictive behavior can be
the:
•Free offers.
•The subsequent effect.
•Peer acceptance.

Weight Reduction Programs
Following can be of help:
•Contracts
•Allowing one’s self to eat favorite food once a week
Learning Healthy Lifestyles
Acquiring better skills for improving and enhancing health can be made easier by using learning techniques
COGNITIVE APPROACH

(Also known as the cognitive Perspective or Model)
After having gone through the classical and operant conditioning approaches ask yourself:
• Did we learn, all that we know, as a result of mere association of stimulus and response; or was it
learnt just because we were reinforced for it?????Can learning take place as a result of some other
processes?
• Why does a soldier keep resisting the strong enemy without caring for his life even when he can
escape?
• Why would an artist donate his paintings to a charity school and not sell them in the market when
he could have earned hundreds of thousands?
All human intellectual activities and potentials, i.e. thinking, communicating, problem solving, and learning
require mental processes and knowledge. It is more than just stimulus-response association or reward and
punishment.
• In the 1970's much of psychology returned to the study of the mind. Cognitive psychology had a
similar interest. It studied memory, information processing, decision-making, etc.Cognitive
Approach to Learning

The approach that focuses upon the thought processes underlying learning.
• The approach that gives importance to cognition for understanding and explaining learning.
• Cognition is defined as "the mental processes” or the “ faculty of knowing”.Cognitive learning
approach has roots in the cognitive perspective.
• Cognition means “knowledge” or “the process of knowing”.
• Cognitive approach emphasizes:
o Thoughts
o Feelings
o Thinking
o Values
o Expectations etc
• This theory gives same importance to both the internal states of the person as well as the
environmental events.
• Internal events are referred a s “Mediators” or “mediational processes”__ (that come in between
stimulus and response).
• Mediators are ‘conceptual’ but they are defined physiologically rather than conceptually.
Elements of Cognitive Model



Emphasis of Cognitive Approach
• Cognitive approach uses the following as its focal point:
o Emotions
o Social behavior
o Behavior modification
• Cognitive approach includes the elements of psychology, linguistics, computer science and
physiology__ thus called a ‘hybrid science’.
Internal processes = essential in
understanding Behavior
Mediators = Work in a
systematic and organized way
not in terms of trial and
• The roots of cognitive learning can be traced in the work of Wolfgang Kohler, and E.C.Tolman.
Wolfgang Kohler Experiments on apes by German scientist Kohler, led to the discovery of the use of
insight by animals in problem solving; “learning by insight”.
• Most famous of his experiments were conducted involving “Sultan”, an ape.
• Series of experiments was conducted in which it had to reach a banana outside its cage using a
stick. Once it could solve this problem several times, it was provided with a stick that was not long
enough to reach the banana. However, outside the cage was placed a longer stick.
The ape unsuccessfully tried several times to reach the banana with the smaller stick, till it was finally
frustrated and retreated. Then all of a sudden the ape got up, got hold of the shorter stick and used it to
reach the longer stick; that stick was then used to reach the banana.

• This phenomenon, Kohler thought, could be explained neither in terms of mechanical classical or
operant conditioning, nor trial and error.
• The animal had exhibited a sudden change in behavior or the way it organized the problem
situation based upon “insight”.
• Both Kohler and Tolman played a vital role in laying the foundation of cognitive approach.

Tolman’s Concept of Latent Learning
• Tolman talked about the ‘cognitive maps’; it is not necessary to have an association between
stimulus and response, a person can learn without showing any apparent response; in other words
learning and performance are not the same.
•The type of learning in which the organism does learn or acquire a particular behavior but does not readily
demonstrate it until reinforcement is provided; performance may not be the same as what one has actually
learnt.

Tolman’s Series of Early Experiments:
• Tolman (1886-1959) and colleagues conducted experiments that demonstrated that only
mechanical association between the stimulus and response can not explain just every type
of learning. In order to demonstrate this experiment on maze learning was conducted
using rats that were divided into three groups.

• Group- 1
For 17 days the rats were allowed wandering around the maze once a day without being rewarded; making
many errors they took longer in reaching the end.
• Group- 2
Always given food at reaching the end; learned to run faster to the end and food box; made fewer errors.
• Group- 3
For the first 10 days treated like group-1, and then given food; running time reduced. Errors declined;
performance immediately matched that of group-1.

Conclusion: Cognitive Map
•The rats who were not rewarded had learnt the layout of the maze in their initial explorations, but
demonstrated their ability/skill only after reinforcement was provided; immediately after they stared getting
food they were almost as good as group-1.
•They had developed a cognitive map of the maze that was readily available in their mind, that was used
only when reinforcement was received.

Cognitive Map
•It is a mental representation of space, locations, and directions; a mental representation of learned
relationships among stimuli.
What function do spatial cognitive maps perform???
In case of humans and animals:
•Spatial memory is used for identifying and recognizing the features of their environment e.g. cats find their
way back home.
•Spatial memory is used for finding important goal objects in their environment.
•Spatial memory is used for planning route through an environment.
Use of Cognitive Maps by Animals
•Birds coming back to the same place and point after a season
•Pigeons carrying messages
•Cats coming back home even after a number of days have passed

Use of cognitive maps by humans
•Cognitive maps of surroundings, primarily based on particular landmarks are developed by people too.
•In their initial encounter with a new environment, they develop cognitive maps based upon specific paths.
•As the familiarity with the environment increase, “abstract cognitive maps” are developed i.e., overall
conception of environment is developed.
•Used by interior designers for planning space and arrangements in the absence of any actual objects.

Observational Learning

Ask Yourself
•Will people be behaving the same way as they do now, if they had never seen another human being?
•How do toddlers learn to wear shoes?
•Why do small girls like to wear lipsticks?
•How does one reach for the ignition in a car when trying to drive the very first time on his own?
•How do many youngsters start smoking?
•Why do people dress up and talk like famous actors?

Defining observational Learning
Imitation is an advanced animal behavior whereby an individual observes another's behavior and replicates
it.
•Observational learning refers to learning through observation of others’ behavior; or as a result of
modeling
•According to Albert Bandura and colleagues, a major portion of our learning is based upon learning by
observation.
•It is the main component of social-learning theory in which a person makes changes in his own behavior
by watching/or imitating others i.e., a model/ a super star/favorite personality or a cartoon character.
•Effective in acquiring skills, attitudes, and beliefs simply by watching other
Observational learning may lead to learning negative as well as positive behaviors!!!!
• Bandura (1965) and others have demonstrated that we learn from observing models but we don't
necessarily copy them. In an early study, children watched a film of an adult hitting and kicking a
large punching bag type of doll. Some of the children saw the adult rewarded for the aggressiveness,
others saw the adult punished, and still others saw no rewards or punishment afterwards.
When placed in a similar situation as the adult with the doll, the children were more
aggressive themselves if they had seen an adult rewarded for being aggressive. If they had
seen the adult punished, they were less aggressive, even though they could imitate the
adult perfectly. They had learned behavior by observing and learned to monitor and
control their behavior considering if it might lead to rewards or punishment. All parents
observe this phenomenon in their growing children.

Modeling has also been used as a form of psychological intervention or treatment. Children with a fear of
dogs (Bandura, Grusec, and Menlove, 1967) or snakes (Bandura, Blanchard, and Ritter, 1969) were shown a Introduction to Psychology –PSY101 VU
© Copyright Virtual University of Pakistan 135
model that was not afraid and approached and handled the animal. The children learned to be less afraid.
Although observing an effective model in a film is helpful, seeing a live model works better. Even more
effective is watching a live model first and then participating by approaching and safely handling the feared
animal.

Steps in Observational Learning
•The most critical features of another person’s (model’s) behavior are paid attention to and perceived.
•The behavior is remembered; stored in memory.
•The action is reproduced.
•The person is motivated to learn and practice the behavior; successes are reinforced and failures punished.

When is observational learning the best approach to learning???
•In learning those skills where shaping is not appropriate, trial and error impossible and classical
conditioning irrelevant, for example:
oFlying airplanes as a pilot
oPerforming surgery

Who is a good model???
•The one who is rewarded for his behavior
•Those punished for their behavior will not usually be copied.
•Socially significant models (e.g. actors or super models used in advertisements)
•Successful people
•Glamorous people
•Good communicators

Applications of Observational Learning in Real Life Situations
Observational learning can be, and has been, used successfully for:
•Overcoming fears in children
•Assertiveness training
•Treating fear of medical treatment and surgery
•Learning sports and athletics
•Learning new skills, like swimming
•Classroom situation: good performers and high achievers are rewarded so that they act as models for other
children

The following behaviors are also learned through observation of others performing the same act:
• Learning gender roles
• Adopting new fashions
• Starting smoking
• Drug abuse
• Drinking alcohol
• Violence and aggression learnt and displayed by children
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