Classical And Operant Conditioning Analysis

1964 Words 8 Pages
There are many ways in which humans are able to learn, some which are a result of reacting to environmental stimuli which alters their behaviour, this is known as behaviourism. Behaviourism comes in two main forms, learning and conditioning. Learning is known as change in information processing and behaviour as a result of experience. The definition of conditioning is a type of learning whereby a specific stimuli elicits a specific response. Conditioning branches into two different types; Classical and Operant conditioning.
Classical conditioning involves learning behaviour through the process of association, to which there are three stages with a stimuli and response. Before conditioning the unconditioned stimulus produces an unconditioned
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Thorndike (1874-1949) proposed the ‘Law of Effect’, he saw that if a response is followed by a reward then it will be strengthened. He discovered this by using his puzzle box with cats to which the gates opened to give access to food, once the lever within the box was stepped on. The cats eventually learned this action was required in order for a successful outcome therefore continued the behaviour. Burrhus F. Skinner was influenced by Watson’s ideas on behaviour. Skinner called learning from consequence operant conditioning. He saw that reinforcement was a key aspect when it came to learning. These types of reinforcement are Positive, Punishment and Negative. Positive reinforcement involves presenting the being with something they find pleasant, strengthening their behaviour. Negative reinforcement involves removing something the being doesn’t find pleasant strengthening their behaviour. Whilst punishment involves presenting the being with something they don’t find pleasant, weakening behaviour.
Skinner conducted research such as Skinners Box (1948) which proved the principles of operant conditioning and identified the relationship between operant and classical conditioning. However his work was done with rats and pigeons. Such animal studies make it difficult to generalise to human beings. Human studies in operant conditioning
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Specifically the animal studies taken out as the animals could not give their consent. A common problem with the most influential studies into behaviourism is that they are animal studies, it is important to know the similarities and differences in how different species learn. Behaviourism makes us realise that such diverse species have something in common, we all share the need to learn to prepare for upcoming events.
The main assumption of behaviourism is that we are all born a blank slate and can be shaped into almost anything. Theorist only focus on external factors and those than can be observed therefore the theory is open to be proven wrong. Nevertheless an important issue behaviourism brings up is whether we really have free will. If the principles of behaviourism state we can be so easily shaped by making associations and giving or taking away rewards it is highly deterministic and brings up the question of whether we can really shape the way we behave or whether we really have any control at

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