Monday, May 23, 2022

Avoidance Theory VS Obsession

In class, I found an interesting contrast between two concepts we have learned about. Avoidance Theory is the avoidance or escape from anxiety-provoking stimuli resulting in the removal of unpleasant emotions. The behavior of avoidance essentially becomes a reward. These behaviors may occur in many different ways and include actions that someone may or may not do. In Chapter 9, this concept was introduced and I found it very interesting as I was able to compare it to procrastination. 

Obsession was another concept in Chapter 9 that differed from the Avoidance Theory. Obsession would be someone obsessing over if they turned their flat iron off so they checked it five times in a row. Obsession is a factor in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I have slight OCD in a way that I never have handed a college assignment in late and I obsess over deadlines. It was cool to learn about these concepts and compare/contrast them from everyday life.,increases)%20the%20behavior%20of%20avoidance. 

Operant Conditioning


    Operant Conditioning is also known as Instrumental Conditioning. In this type of conditioning, I have learned that both humans and animals are able to learn through getting rewards and avoiding punishments. Most of us are familiar with the concept, but were previously unaware of its name. There are four quadrants of Operant Conditioning: Positive Punishment, Positive Reinforcement, Negative Reinforcement, and Negative Punishment. 

As I studied this theory, I was able to compare it to the way that I had trained my German Shepherd dog back at home. In order to teach him different commands, like raising his paw, I would reward him. Whenever he would raise his paw, he would be rewarded with treats in order to form an association to help him learn the command. This type of conditioning is effective and I can say that from first-hand knowledge. 


Phobias are more common than we think. Think to yourself, what is something that I fear and avoid? For some, this could simply mean a fear of spiders or a fear of flying in an airplane. Something I learned after further research, was that there are other phobias most people are unaware of. Examples of less common phobias include the fear of elevators, enclosed rooms, etc. Phobias can be anything because it is essentially the uncontrollable sense of an irrational and lasting fear. 

I think it is important to educate others about phobias in order to understand the fears of other people and the fears that they have. I have read that about 19 million Americans have one or more phobias. This really put into perspective for me just how common it is to have a phobia. As well as anything mental health related, phobias are nothing to be ashamed of.,the%20source%20of%20this%20fear.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Post 3: Parenting Styles

 It is true that everyone parents their children differently, and I definitely got two separate parenting styles growing up from my mother and father. My mom treated me how her parents treated her as a child and same with my dad and his parents. Looking back, I see that how they were raised really affected their parenting styles. My mom focused on reinforcement while my dad focused more on punishment. A lot of studies show that most punishments are not effective and can actually drive a child away from the parent. 

Physical punishments and things such as yelling and screaming were punishments shown to not be effective. These can affect a child in the long-term as well as their future parenting styles. I believe there are certain ways to punish a child when they are exhibiting bad behavior, like time-outs. As we become more informed on the best ways to parent, physical punishments become more frowned upon. It is definitely something that is more "old-school" and was more frequent in older generations. Older generations can carry that parenting style to today's generation causing a lot more harm than good.

Operant Conditioning


    This conditioning was used as an instrumental for human animals to learn to behave in a way that they would acquire rewards and avoid punishments. This conditioning creates a relation between a behavior and the consequences of that behavior. With operant conditioning, there are three components and the first is, "a response that produces a certain consequence (e.g., lever press-ing produces a food pellet). Secondly, the consequence that serves to either increase or decreases the probability of the response that preceded it (e.g., the consequence of a food pellet increases the rat’s tendency to again press the lever). Then lastly, a discriminative stimulus precedes the response and signals that certain consequences now available (e.g., a tone that signals that a lever press will now produce food."

     In real life, you would use operant conditioning like so when you trying to teach your child to talk or walk. So first you start helping then learn how to stand up with help and then with help and reward them with a kiss and encouragement. Then when they finally stand up you would help them take their first steps to learn how to actually walk by themselves and you would reward them again with love, kisses, and encouragement. So the examples I showed you were positive reinforcement but now let's think about negative reinforcement and that would if you see your child pushing and hitting another child you start to pull them aside and tell them that was not nice and we don't hurt or friends and you would repeat that until they would start to understand but if not you could put them in timeout so they could associate timeout with every time I hit someone. So these reinforcements are everyday events for parents and especially operant conditing is used life for every age at any time. 


1.Introduction to Learning and Behavior. 

Born to Be Reflexive

 Reflexes are a critical aspect of our nervous system and we are born with certain reflexes that are either protect us or help us function. Newborns enter the world with reflexes that help them adapt and survive in their new environment outside the womb. One reflex I remember learning about in Psych101 my freshman year is rooting. This is when you can touch a baby's cheek or corner of their mouth and they will turn their head in your direction and open their mouth.. This is an involuntary response that helps them to find a breast or bottle to be fed. A baby's grip is also super strong if you've ever noticed, and this is an involuntary action too. It is a good way to strengthen a bond between you and a baby by holding their hand. Many of these reflexes gradually disappear as the baby ages, and new reflexes are formed.

Noncontingent Schedules

 I was so glad to see in this book about noncontingent schedules. It is having a fixed schedule regardless of what stimulus we are presented. I have never realized but I do this. Regardless of my time in the morning whether I wake up early or late I spend the the same time with my morning routine. I have a very strict schedule to follow. 

   Many ideas in the book led me to believe that we actually all live the same life with the same concepts just to a higher or harder degree; we all collectively have the same experiences. 

Post 1: Animal Training

Classical conditioning is used a lot when training animals. Rewarding desirable behaviors and punishing undesirable behaviors enables pets to learn how you want them to behave, or maybe just whatever gets them a treat. I have used techniques like this with both my dog and two cats. One of my favorite things I conditioned my dog to do was to ring a bell with her nose whenever she wants/needs to go outside. This was so that if she went to the door to go out when we were in another part of the house, we could at least hear her and come to let her out. It only took a day or two to get her to understand the concept. We kept an eye on her and whenever she went to the door we followed her and put the bell up to her nose making a the sound. We then would try and get her to repeat the movement herself and would reward her with a treat before opening the door. Ten years later and we still hear a bell ring and know she needs to go outside to go to the bathroom. Bells are a common tool for conditioning; the sound can be taught to be associated with many different things. I learned from this post that teaching dogs to ring a bell to signal they have to go outside is actually very common. I attached a link below.

I was very shocked to see that eating disorders can be part of behavior. I had always thought that they were something you were genetically born with and had no choice but to have an eating disorder. I now realize that many things can cause you to eat at such a different than normal pace. 

I think it is beyond sad how as humans one phrase can change the way we deviate from normal. I think we do this simply because of observational learning. We watch and we see what others do and in the end they influence your every move. Eat disorders are formed nowadays from watching the models on social media or the boys who look so perfect. We need to do better as a society promoting healthy lifestyles and habits. 


Punishment involves the weakening of behavior through the application of an aversive stimulus or the removal of an appetitive stimulus. There are varying types of punishment. Positive punishment consists of presenting a certain event after a response, which then leads to a decrease in the future strength of that response. Basically, the behavior results in the receiving of something that the individual strongly dislikes so that they are far less likely to behave that way in the future. Some examples of positive punishment would be receiving a spanking for swearing or a teacher reprimanding a student in front of the class because they misbehaved. 

By contrast, there is also negative punishment. Negative punishment involves removing a certain event after a response, which then leads to a decrease in the strength of that response in future instances. Basically, an individual's behavior results in the removal of something that the individual enjoys so that they are less likely to behave that way moving forward. Examples of negative punishment would be losing your job for being an irresponsible employee or losing out on ice cream for dessert after dinner because you talked back to your parents. 

For me personally, I always felt that negative punishment was the most effective way to get me to behave when I was a kid. I can remember my mother taking away my game console for misbehaving and doing things that I was not supposed to and how that certainly motivated me to not want to do those things in the future. Knowing that I could lose something that I really enjoyed if I behaved poorly was always something that stuck in the back of my mind when I was young and kept me in line. 

One article that I read discussed various ways to effectively discipline a child and teach them to behave in a healthy and nurturing way. Strategies like putting a child in a time-out, listening to them voice their concerns, and setting limits, are all effective and healthy strategies for discipline and teaching a child. The information that I learned from this article is the knowledge that I hope to be able to employ if I have children of my own one day, along with all the things that I have learned from the book and lectures. 

Article reference:

Book reference: Powell, Russell A.; Honey, P. Lynne; Symbaluk, Diane G.. Introduction to Learning and Behavior (p. 347). Cengage Learning. 

Aversion Therapy

    There is a behavior therapy that uses the principle of classical conditioning that stood out to me. It is called Aversion therapy so this is a form of treatment that causes patients to be exposed to a stimulus while being simultaneously subjected to some form of discomfort. This means that a patient has to give up an undesirable habit by causing them to associate it with an unpleasant effect. The first version of this treatment was when Roman writer Pliny the Elder found that people were addicted to wine. So Ply the Elder thought that if you would put a large spider at the bottom of the wine glass people would automatically be traumatized by the bug. So the next time they pick up a wine glass you would only think about the spider and that would cause you to never drink wine again.

    So with this therapy, I feel like a lot of people have done this but not in that type of extreme way like how when mothers try to wean off their babies from drinking from the bottle or having a pacifier in their mouth all the time. I have seen mothers first put hot sauce on the bottle or pacifier and the child might even like and continue to drink or hate it and never drink again. Then I have seen mothers put maybe lemon juice on the pacifier and the child automatically makes this extreme sour face and never touches it again because they only associate the lemon juice with the pacifier. I think it's so interesting how people can just stop doing a habit just from this one traumatic experience they possibly could have. Then just moving past experience and drinking or putting the pacifier in their mouth again. 


1.Introduction to Learning and Behavior.


The foundation of many phobias is the development of a classically conditioned fear response, which then fails to disappear because the person avoids the feared stimulus. However, not all phobias are acquired through classical conditioning. Many individuals who experience phobias are unable to remember any particular event before they started experiencing their phobia. Additionally, it's surprising and interesting to note that most people are fairly resilient when they experience frightening events and do not develop chronic fears as in the case of phobias as well as in PTSD. For example, the vast majority of people exposed to bombings by airplanes during World War II endured them pretty well, having short-lasting fears that were very rationale considering their situation, and those fears dissipated quickly thereafter.  Researchers in the field of psychology have proposed that additional variables likely play a role in obtaining phobias as well. Some of these variables include; observational learning, temperament, preparedness, incubation, US revaluation, and selective sensitization. 

In my own personal experience, I have had what I would categorize as a phobia of heights (acrophobia) for as long as I can remember. I am not quite sure where this fear came from as there is no event that I can recall but I know that any time I am in an elevated setting I get filled with a deep sense of anxiety.


As far as how to tackle phobias, I found a specific article from the Mayo Clinic to be quite intriguing. The article discusses that the best treatment for a specific phobia would be to undergo exposure therapy. This type of therapy focuses on changing the response that you have to the object or situation that you fear. This gradual and repeated exposure to the source of the phobia helps to manage the fearful thoughts, sensations, and emotions that are associated with that source. Through this therapy process, the anxiety that comes from facing your phobia can be drastically improved in a lot of cases. 

As someone of Irish descent myself, I have traveled to Ireland a few times and have also gone to the Cliffs of Moher once or twice. I can remember that I couldn't muster the courage to go within even 100 yards of the edge and seeing people that were brave enough to look over the edge made me feel anxious for them. I found a very entertaining video of a guy who also has a fear of heights and tried to face his fears by slowly approaching the edge of the Cliffs of Moher. Hopefully, I will be able to conquer my own phobia and be able to do this one day!

Book reference: Powell, Russell A.; Honey, P. Lynne; Symbaluk, Diane G.. Introduction to Learning and Behavior (p. 186). Cengage Learning. 

Article reference:

 Classical Conditioning is one of my favorite topics to learn about and understand. Pavlov's dogs is obviously the first story you learn about; this concept where dogs are given a stimulus and in return with that stimulus comes a reward. I have never actually seen this portrayed until one day I was watching the show called "The Office." Seeing Classical conditioning happening versus hearing about it allowed my understanding to be much more deep. 

   During this episode the main character Michael would ring a bell and when the bell was rung Pam would put her hand out and she would be given a mint. This would happen over and over again until anywhere she would hear a bell that she would put her hand out and expect a mint anywhere. I think it is so funny and will want to eventually try this in my office. 

How Can We Tackle Our Self-Control?

 Melioration theory formally states that an animal will invest increasing amounts of energy and time into which option or alternative is better for them. In the field of psychology, this theory is used to help explain why organisms make choices based on the rewards or reinforcement that it receives. Based on the levels of reinforcements that are available relative to an individual's options, among other factors, someone may not always make the most optimal decisions for themself. In fact, it is an often occurrence for individuals to engage in less than ideal patterns of behavior. Additionally, although many people are aware that their choices are suboptimal, they experience difficulty with changing their habits. An example of this would be someone who decides to start eating a healthier diet but continuously consuming junk food instead. Furthermore, someone may want to drop an unhealthy habit such as cigarette smoking but can only stick with it for a few days.  

When it comes to the topic of self-control, American psychologist Burrhus Frederic Skinner looked at it, not as an issue of willpower but more so as an issue involving conflicting outcomes. For example, when you drink alcohol you may feel more relaxed and social, but you can also experience various health issues and dangerous activities. Skinner theorized several types of controlling responses to deal with self-control; physical restraint, doing something else, self-reinforcement/self-punishment, and depriving & satiating. These strategies focus on controlling one’s own behavior and showing restraint when it comes to self-destructive habits.

Personally, self-control has been a fascinating topic to investigate. Self-control is something that I have failed to practice time and time again and with further research, I have learned some very insightful ways to better control my behavior. I believe that through practice and repetition self-control can be garnered. One article that I read discusses the topic of “ego depletion” as it relates to self-control. The article states that research has found that self-control to be a limited resource. While practicing self-control allows you to improve it over time, in the short term it is still a limited commodity. If you were to Focus all of your self-control on one thing it makes it more difficult to exercise your self-control on subsequent tasks throughout your day. So when a person uses up their reservoir of willpower on one task, it becomes very difficult to have enough self-control to complete the next task. (See article link at the bottom if interested)There is also a very interesting TED Talk on the topic of self-control that goes over innovations in the ways that we can control our behaviors through technology. Jonathan Bricker who gave the talk discusses some of the really interesting research he has conducted and the app that he developed. His app which is calleSmartQuit” was released several years ago and is aimed toward helping people to quit smoking.

Article on self-control:

Book reference: Powell, Russell A.; Honey, P. Lynne; Symbaluk, Diane G.. Introduction to Learning and Behavior (p. 389). Cengage Learning.

Lack of Self Control

 One of the most common issues that everybody faces and everyone struggles with is self control. Self control is the ability to control and avoid temptations. "the ability to delay gratification and resist unwanted behaviors or urges." Human nature seems to be that we gravitate to whatever gives us the most serotonin or what makes us feel happy. Whether that is food, activities, or even substances. Self control goes hand in hand with addiction which is a disease in and of itself.  We often seek out stimulus that will increase our levels of serotonin and that can lead to substance addiction. In a simple definition, addiction is lack of self control. 

As a common thing for my posts, I try to use personal examples in order to give a proper understanding of each topic at and hand for me, I had a serious lack of self control when I used to smoke cigarettes. As smoking is a very common addiction and is the perfect example of succumbing to temptations rather than avoiding them. Being 21 and able to purchase cigarettes legally led to more temptation just due to accessibility and over time I had to gain much more self control and discipline in order to shake the addiction.,resource%20that%20can%20be%20depleted 

Observational Learning

 One of the most natural ways for one to learn, especially within child development is observational learning. It is when one views or witnesses an action, hears certain words or ways of speaking, or sees certain behavior patterns and then does that same action or vocal pattern. This is one of the most important aspects to child development because if the child finds itself in a negative environment or around negative people, the child can learn from those negative behavioral patterns and potentially have those behaviors going into adulthood. 

Pulling from personal experiences, a perfect example of observational learning was when I was in elementary school and I had heard my mother curse the night before on accident, and me being 7 years old thought it was hilarious, so I wanted to let everyone else know how funny that word was the next day at school and repeated it in front of the teacher and lets just say the teacher and my mother were not impressed with my colorful vocabulary. 

Patient HM: Implicit Learning and the Mirror Drawing Test

 This post was inspired by a classmate's post on the Mirror Drawing Test (thanks Angelina!). Their post discussed the Mirror Drawing Test's general use in testing motor skills and development in children and adults. Where my post differs is that it reminded me of patient HM, a man who could not form any long-term or explicit memories due to damage to his Hippocampus. 

In researching patient HM's abilities to form new skills (and therefore, some type of memory that functions outside of the Hippocampus' role), they had HM do the Mirror Drawing Test 10 times a day, everyday for 3 days. To remind anyone who may have forgotten or does not know, the mirror drawing test is a task that require an individual to simply trace a star within the boundaries of two lines. The catch is that they must do this task while looking in a mirror, not their hands directly. This reverses our movements and makes the task fairly difficult. What they found with HM is that, despite not being able to form explicit long-term memories, he became progressively better at the task. Each time he came to the task, he had the impression that it was his very first time performing it, even noting in one later session how it turned out to be easier than he expected.

Below is a video shortly summarizing HM and the Mirror Drawing Test:

Do We Have Free Will?

 Our ability as human beings to recognize and think about ourselves and, perhaps more importantly, other people, is profound. With this level of self awareness comes too our ability to think about thinking itself, also known as metacognition. Much of these abilities seem to be innate for likely all neurotypical people. Much like how a bird cannot help but to forage, build nests, fly away from Winter, etc.; how a plant grows towards sunlight and sucks in water; or how an animal cannot help but express itself in ways that it knows how, so too are humans no different. Human beings act like human beings much in the same way that a dog behaves as a dog, or a cat acts like a cat - the genetic component has determined how the organism is structured, and that structure determines, in large part, how that organism behaves

Even though we are likely the most intelligent species to walk the face of the Earth, our intelligence is still, in large part, an adaptability product of our surroundings. We cannot help but to take in information; categorize; search for new info intentionally; socialize and interact with our relevant temperaments. Likewise, even our own acquisition of language is completely out of our control, as illustrated with Chomsky's Language Acquisition Device (LAD). For those who may not know, a brief aside, Chomsky's LAD suggests that all normally developed human beings have the capacity for acquiring the language of their culture, and that this device is highly useful in adapting. It can be argued that we would never had evolved our higher level thinking skills had language not allowed us to categorize and internalize objects and events more proficiently. Indeed, did any one of us decide to learn to speak a language?

Another way of looking at the issue of whether we have free will or not is to look at exceptional individuals. In the case of savants, that is, people who almost immediately master a skill with little to no practice, did they really have a sense of free will in that action, or are they developmentally and genetically predisposed to be of exceptional talent? In the case of people with intellectual disabilities, is any neuro-divergent person capable of thinking in a way that their brain is not structured to? Likewise then, in the case of average-intelligence neurotypical people, are any of them capable of being anything besides themselves? Even with things you "choose" to do, are you not choosing such things because of your predisposition towards them? Why, too, is it then that other people may have other interests they have "chosen"?

These ideas and more, while not all-encompassing, are in-line with Skinner's ideas on determinism.


Powell, R. A., Honey, P. L., & Symbaluk, D. G. (2017). Introduction to Learning and Behavior (fifth). Cengage Learning.

Operant Conditioning-Sleep Inhibitory/Animals

Operant Conditioning is a method of learning that reinforces the actions behind rewarding and punishment. Its the method that creates a learning system as time progresses, also a method that was developed by B.F. Skinner whom believed that behavior that is prolonged by positive consequences will be continued. According to the article, Sleep supports inhibitory operant conditioning memory in Aplysia, there's a cognitive relation. Sleep is said to support memory consolidation as shown in mammals and invertebrates such as bees and Drosophila (Vorster, A. P. A., & Born, J. (2017)

It is expressed in the article that animals inhibit a repetitive cycle of showing consolidation in their memory. Mammals were subjected using their own energy when they are properly resting at a duration of 17hrs.

Treating Phobias with Flooding

Phobias can be defined simply as an extreme fear of an object, experience, etc. Phobias are something a majority of individuals suffer from and the levels of intensity can vary. Intensive phobias can cause higher levels of anxiety and so much so that individuals can struggle with daily function. They often stem from childhood experiences that were so traumatic, it caused an individual such intense fear and anxiety that they developed a long term phobia. Phobias can vary from small objects or small creatures to things and places that one would not normally find themselves in. An example of an intense phobia is Arachnophobia is one of the most common fears and that is an intense fear of spiders, which is also a phobia I myself have. Another phobia is Acrophobia which is the intense fear of heights. 

Arguably the most extreme treatment for phobias is flooding. Flooding is "rather than exposing a person to their phobic stimulus gradually, a person is exposed to the most frightening situation immediately." Often times this is very effective for long term phobias, due to its extreme nature it can be incredibly traumatic for the individuals being treated. I myself am against flooding but only because if I was put in the situation of trying to treat my fear of spiders, I don't think I would have a very good time and would probably have choice words to those who would put me up to it. 

An example of flooding that was used for humor was on the television show Impractical Jokers in which 4 older men put themselves in uncomfortable situations for humor and if not following what they are told, they get "punished" at the end of every episode. Two such examples of flooding in this show included when one of the individuals was tied down to a platform and had spiders placed on top of him. If this was done to me, I probably would not speak to the friends who would do this to me. Another example and the more extreme of the two was when they surprised one of the individuals who has acrophobia with making him skydive.   The only video example I could find was another level of flooding where they had one of the individuals try and retrieve his passport from the bottom of a shark cage while he had an intense phobia of sharks and his reaction proves how afraid he truly was.