🔎 Unit 1: Scientific Foundations of Psychology
1.0Unit 1 Overview: Scientific Foundations of Psychology
1.1Introducing Psychology: The Historical Progression of Psychology
1.2Research Methods in Psychology
1.3The Experimental Method
1.5Statistical Analysis in Psychology
🧠 Unit 2: Biological Bases of Behavior
2.0Unit 2 Overview: Biological Bases of Behavior
2.1Interaction of Heredity and Environment
2.3Overview of the Nervous System and the Neuron
2.7Tools for Examining Brain Structure and Function
2.8The Adaptable Brain: Neural Fluidity
👀 Unit 3: Sensation and Perception
3.0Unit 3 Overview: Sensation and Perception
3.1Principles of Sensation
3.2Principles of Perception
3.5Auditory Sensation and Perception
📚 Unit 4: Learning
4.0Unit 4 Overview: Learning
🤔 Unit 5: Cognitive Psychology
5.0Unit 5 Overview: Cognitive Psychology
5.1Introduction to Memory
5.5Forgetting and Memory Distortion
5.6Biological Bases of Memory
5.7Introduction to Thinking and Problem Solving
5.8Biases and Errors in Thinking
5.9Introduction to Intelligence
5.10Psychometric Principles and Intelligence Testing
👶 Unit 6: Developmental Psychology
6.0Unit 6 Overview: Developmental Psychology
6.1The Lifespan and Physical Development in Childhood
6.2Social Development in Childhood
6.3Cognitive Development in Childhood
6.5Adulthood and Aging
🤪 Unit 7: Motivation, Emotion, & Personality
7.0Unit 7 Overview: Motivation, Emotion, and Personality
7.1Theories of Motivation
7.2Specific Topics in Motivation
7.3Theories of Emotion
7.4Stress and Coping
7.5Introduction to Personality
7.6Psychoanalytic Theories of Personality
7.7Behaviorism and Social Cognitive Theories of Personality
7.8Humanistic Theories of Personality
7.9Trait Theories of Personality
🛋 Unit 8: Clinical Psychology
8.0Unit 8 Overview: Clinical Psychology
8.1Introduction to Psychological Disorders
8.2Psychological Perspectives and Etiology of Disorders
8.3Neurodevelopmental and Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders
8.4Bipolar, Depressive, Anxiety, and Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
8.5Trauma- and Stressor Related, Dissociative, and Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders
8.6Feeding and Eating, Substance and Addictive, and Personality Disorders
8.7Introduction to Treatment of Psychological Disorders
8.8Psychological Perspectives and Treatment of Disorders
8.9Treatment of Disorders from the Biological Perspective
👫 Unit 9: Social Psychology
9.0Unit 9 Overview: Social Psychology
9.1Attribution Theory and Person Perception
9.2Attitude Formation and Attitude Change
9.3Conformity, Compliance, and Obedience
9.4Group Influences on Behavior and Mental Processes
9.5Bias, Prejudice, and Discrimination
9.6Altruism and Aggression
🧐 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ)
✍️ Free Response Questions (FRQ)
⏱️ 4 min read
November 18, 2020
Operant conditioning refers to when a behavior leads to an environmental response, which in turn affects the likelihood of the behavior happening again.
Image Courtesy of Verywell mind.
One of the earliest contributors to this aspect of learning was E.L. Thorndike, who found that behaviors that had a favorable outcome were strengthened, while behaviors that had an unfavorable outcome were weakened. He referred to this as his Law of Effect.
B.F. Skinner took this principle further and described different types of consequences that can occur and the ways in which they might be presented that could affect the presentation of the behavior.
🎥 Watch: AP Psychology—Operant Conditioning with Pigeons
When a behavior is reinforced, it means there is a greater likelihood that the behavior will occur again. When a behavior is punished, there's a lessened likelihood that the behavior will happen again.
Image Courtesy of Verywell Mind.
When the consequence is described as "positive," it does not necessarily mean good. When something is positive, it means something is presented, given, or appears. When something is negative, it doesn't mean that something is necessarily bad. When a consequence is negative, it means that something disappears or is taken away as a result of the behavior.
Thus, when a behavior is positively reinforced, it means something is presented (usually something pleasant) to increase the likelihood of the behavior happening again. When something is negatively reinforced, it means something is taken away (usually something unpleasant) to make that behavior happen again.
When something is positively punished, it means something is presented (usually something unpleasant) making the behavior happen less often, while something that is negatively punished has something taken away (usually something pleasant) to make that behavior happen less often.
Operant Conditioning Term
Add or increase a pleasant stimulus
Behavior is strengthened
You get a cookie for an “A.” 🍪
Reduce or remove an unpleasant stimulus
Behavior is strengthened
Taking painkillers (removes pain), the behavior of taking painkillers is strengthened.
Add an unpleasant stimulus
Behavior is weakened
Give more homework for misbehavior ✍️
Reduce or remove pleasant stimulus
Behavior is weakened
No phone 📱 after breaking curfew
Table adapted from Open Source Textbook.
🎥 Watch: AP Psychology—Positive and Negative Punishments
Despite stringent behaviorists’ claims, there are limitations to classical conditioning. When presented with a puzzle 🧩, some organisms are capable of discovering the solution to the problem without having the proper reinforcements to guide them to the solution. This is known as insight learning. Insight learning is sometimes referred to as the “a-ha moment” in which one suddenly realizes the solution to a problem💡
Edward Tolman found that rats did not show any noticeable improvement in getting through a maze in the absence of reinforcement. However, when reinforcement was provided, he found a marked decrease in time needed to finish the maze, suggesting that the rats knew the solution to the maze but did not express it behaviorally, meaning that they had a cognitive map of the maze. Tolman called this latent learning⏳
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Not all types of stimuli will necessarily be conditioned with all types of responses. John Garcia found that people are more readily predisposed to be conditioned to taste if the corresponding response is internal. For example, the behavioral response of nausea 🤢 is more likely to be conditioned to a taste stimulus than an external stimulus, such as a sound 🔊
Other research has shown that cognitive interpretations of conditioning also play a role. If a person believes that a particular stimulus, as opposed to the intended stimulus, causes the conditioning, then the intended stimulus that was intended to produce the conditioning will not occur.
The probability of successful operative conditioning depends upon the way in which the reinforcements are presented.
When something is produced on a fixed schedule, it means that reinforcement occurs in a predictable, but not continuous, pattern. One knows when the next reinforcement will be given, assuming behaviors are performed. When reinforcement is given on a variable schedule, it means that reinforcement is not predictable, and it is not known when the next reinforcement will exactly occur.
When reinforcement is given on an interval schedule, it means a certain amount of time must pass by, assuming the behavior is performed, before reinforcement is given. When reinforcement is given on a ratio schedule, it means a certain number of behaviors must be performed before the reinforcement is provided.
Put together, this makes four different types of schedules of reinforcement.
Real World Example
Rewarded after a specific number of responses #️⃣
You get paid $100 bucks after writing 2 columns.
Rewarded after an average but unpredictable number of responses
Put money in a slot machine. It pays out after a number of plays, but the player is uncertain of the number because it varies.
Rewarded after a set amount of time has elapsed 📅
People who earn a monthly salary
Rewarded after an average but unpredictable amount of time has elapsed
Person checks email messages and is rewarded with a message at varying times.
Table adapted from Open Source Textbook.
🎥Watch: AP Psychology—Operant Conditioning
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