Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Final Project Post

As a psychology major I thought “Learning Theory and Research” was a great class. I was familiar with the basics of classical and operant conditioning but I never realized how much more depth there was to the topic. In addition to the history of how these theories came to be, I found it interesting to learn about different ways psychologists do their research and how they form their ideas. Even if you did not want to study psychology in depth the class still explains many things that would help even the ordinary person, whether a parent, teacher, or student through challenges that are presented daily.

What I liked Best:
The thing I liked best about the class was definitely how easy the textbook is to follow. I like the way the author explains it with the definition and then gives you real life examples to illustrate how the concepts can be seen every day. Also, “Advice for the Lovelorn” and “And furthermore” sections were great and keep you involved in the reading. My favorite part that we learned about was how even some disorders are learned. I never realized that due to behavior and learning people develop some of the problems talked about in the book. I thought the concept of avoidance and escape were the most fascinating since they begin to explain repression and dissociative identity disorder.

Final Project Post

This class explained so many things to me that I often have sat and thought about but never knew that their was an explanation that went with it. Everything that we do as people has a purpose and makes perfect since after you really read and analyze the things that are going on around you. This course really broke down learning to me in a whole new light. When learning about classical and operant conditioning in other classes I never knew that there was a lot of information being left out because of the sake of the class. While reading the lecture slides for this class I understand how both operant and classical conditioning so so important. Not just for running experiments and testing different reactions but in everyday life. Things that we experience on a daily basis is conditioning us in one of another way to get ready for what might possibly be ahead of us whether it be good or bad.
It was very interesting to learn how fear is much more that what the mind tells us it is. Yes everybody is scared of some things but not everyone feels fear in the same ways. A phobia is an extreme fear that I always looked at like a game but in reality it is no laughing matter. The brain is extremely complex and just to have an idea of how he learn things and see things through different windows is extremely exciting to me.
Although the class as a whole was very beneficial and I acquired a lot of knowledge that I did not have before, my favorite topic was learning about OCD. I have always been fascinated with this particular disorder because deep down I really think my father suffers from this. His case is not as extreme as the people that are often talked about and looked at on an everyday basis, but it is pretty bad. Nothing can every be out of place with him. He is the true definition of a neat freak and sometimes it can be really nerve wrecking. A have always looked at OCD as an anxiety disorder and nothing else, even though avoidance does make sense when you actually think about it but without learning it from this class I would not have had the slightest clue of that even happening. People are suffering with all different types of OCD. Once again the brain is really a fascinating object. It is pretty cool in a weird way how one person's brain can trick them into having this extreme fear or compulsive behavior about something, and everyone else around them has never experienced anything to such an extreme. This class really opened my eyes to how unique people really are.

Positive Punishment

Growing up like every other child the word punishment never was associated with anything that was positive. A punishment in my house was always bad and the worst punishment for me was not being able to go outside of having my phone privileges taken away from me. How could this possibly be positive. I have always considered it torture. It is so funny how when your parents have disciplining you, they tell you " You might not understand now, but you will thank me for it later." "Please" is what was always running through my head, "I will never thank you for this." But now I can look back on things and thank them for a lot of the punishing that they did to me. Although I did not like it, numerous positive things have come from it. Positive punishment:making you uncomfortable with your actions so that you won't make the same mistakes. I can really appreciate this logic.


As a child before I really became interesting in psychology and how that mind works I always thought that phobias where just something that people made up because they were scared of a particular thing. When different talk shows came on TV like Maury, they would always have a segment on about people who had these crazy phobias. I thought that it was so funny because I would tell myself that there is no way that someone could be scared of something like cotton or foil paper. After going through the lecture slides I started to realize that nothing about having a phobia is funny. Although it might seem ridiculous to someone on the outside looking in, but the person with the actual condition is far from laughing. It seems to me like a phobia is sort of like an extreme over extension of fear and without fear could we really call ourselves human. Everyone is not scared of the same things but without fear we would never know when to fight or flight or anything else. People with phobias should seek help and speak out more because from a person from the outside looking in a phobia just looks like a big show.

Monday, July 12, 2010


By: Natalie Knight

This particular Psychology class “Learning Theory and Research with Professor Berg was filled with a variety of concepts from Historical Background of studying learning and behavior to Classical Conditioning. The textbook alone went in to great detail of how each theory stands alone but how each theory was built upon another. Research methods as well as its results were greatly noted and later tested for their validation. This course also reviewed many well-known and important psychologists that posed great impact on learning, behavior, and research. That was needed to further and promote success throughout history. A few of these very such psychologist are Hull, Skinner, Pavlov, among many others. I feel that this psychology class has offered me a small glimpse of how important psychology is to my everyday life and for its ultimate existence. Like it was written in the first few lines in our classroom textbook that many principles will be discussed and learned and that those very principles will alone me to improve in so many facets of my life and that learning about them in this course will make be better all together.

My favorite topics that I enjoyed in this course were in Operant Conditioning, because it best describes how I at this point in my life approach situations that being college, my marriage, and most importantly parenting. This involves a type of learning that is greatly affected by consequences. Along with Reinforcement, positive is always what one strives for but we also learning and change behavior through either form of reinforcement. Shaping is also a great procedure that helps any such person grow, learn and improve their present and future behaviors. Shaping behavior by reinforcing small steps toward a future goal is one of great importance. This course also covered how Punishment can be used and put into effect to bring about great influence and consistent episodes of good behavior. I feel that this course helped me to grasp the importance of Learning and how it is a behavioral adaptation that allows an organism to survive or thrive in its environment. And how Behavior can be observed, and how theories can allow us to learn and foster growth.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Final Post

This course addressed the workings of some of the most well known psychologist such as Albert Bandura, B.F. Skinner, Freud, Darwin, and Watson. We touched base with a bunch of different topics and received a lot of insight pertaining to each of them. The breakdown of vocabulary was very helpful also because in order to completely understand the material you had to know what certain words meant such as convert behavior, functional relationships, appetitive stimulus, contiguity, and the list continues. Also abbreviated words that were introduced, US, CS, UCS, CR. The different chapters went in depth with information but I really enjoyed the chapter that covered operant conditioning. Operant conditioning was mainly proposed by B.F. Skinner and the use of his Skinner box. He had an experiment with a bird that should learn that certain stimuli and reactions result in a positive outcome (being fed). Reinforces then took place, being positive or negative, and primary or secondary. There was then the breakdown schedules of reinforcement, and how they are classified as continuous or intermittent. There were different type’s schedules which included fixed duration (FD), variable duration (VD), three types of response rate schedules, and two types of noncontingent schedules.
I Liked
There were many chapters that I enjoyed but the one that interest me the most was about punishments because as a child I was familiar with if I did something good I was rewarded (positive reinforcement "consists of the presentation of a stimulus following a response, which then leads to an increase in the future strength of that response"). If I did something bad I had a negative punishment (negative reinforcement is the removal of an unpleasant stimulus that leads to an increase in the future response). Another chapter that interest me was high order conditioning. High order conditioning is defined as when a stimulus is associated with a conditioned stimulus, it can become a conditioned stimulus itself. My parents used these tactics to keep me away from things that they foreseen to be dangerous or simply didn’t want me near.

Life is all about operant conditioning from everything around us. From the time we wake up from the sound of an alarm clock makes us wake up, to the point where we are driving down the road waiting for a read light to turn green we are conditioned to these aspects as to where we have to wait to proceed. This is a simple video of teaching your dog behavior.

Babies crying to be held

Babies tend to learn at a very young age how they can get their way without even talking. Many times babies will cry out for attentions whether they want to be held, if they are hungry, or if something hurts. Babies are big attention seekers and if they find anyway to sucker their parents in any way they will. Some people may argue that picking up babies all the time are just a simple way of showing affection and others see it as a way of spoiling a baby. If a baby learns that at the moment that they cry the parent will run to them then that's just a simple way for them to do it all the time. Some parents find different methods to stop the baby from crying whether it by playing music or just simply letting the baby cry out to show the baby who is in charge. For the common parent picking the baby up is the only motive.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Final Project

This course was definately eye-opening and interesting. I learned a lot about different types of research methods and different types of reinforcers and punishments. As as parent, learning about these different methods are important to me and it was interesting to see what different types of punishments are positive and negative and how they affect those being punished. This course seemed to cover more material than most psychology courses that I have taken and has also been a lot more appealing to read the information and I actually wanted to know more about it. I enjoyed learning about different types of conditioning and responses to stimuli. Everything that I have learned in this course can easily be applied to real life situations and as a result of taking this course, I feel that I will be more readily able to handle such situations.

Favorite Part
My favorite part of the course by far has been learning about the different types of punishments. I picked this topic to do a previous post on because it related to my role as a mother. As a parent, you never quite know the correct way to discipline your child. Going over the types of punishment: time out and response cost, made me realize that as my son gets older, i am going to use the time out method of punishment for him. I found that i would also like to use an intrinsic form of punishment and if my son does something that I do not approve of, then the punishment (time out) will be given because of the activity that he did.
I am so glad I chose this course because it gave me insight into parenting styles that I can use throughout the years and inform those who may be doing something wrong about the more acceptable way of doing things.

I love the good old days from Jon & Kate Plus 8 : )
A great example of TIME OUT! : )

Final Project Post

I have taken many psychology courses over my college carreer, being that my major is psychology. After taking this course and reading the text I could almost kick myself for not taking it sooner. I must say that I will most likely keep the textbook for further refrences because I learned so much from it and have even used some of the things I have learned already in my everyday life. Wheter it be how to parent my daughter or the reason my guniea pig squeals when she hears the fridge open, I have learned a lot.
My favorite part of the course would have to be classical conditioning. I know that classical conditioning is part of almost every college psychology course you will take but it still interests me everytime. I am actually in the process of classical conditioning my kitten. My fiance and I just recently got a kitten for our daughters third birthday. We got the kitten around the same time that I started this course, which sort of provoked me to classically condition my kitten. So, I have started a very simple experiment where I ring my guniea pigs bell rite before I feed the kitten. So far it has not worked but I am sure that it will with much persistance. I also have come to the conclusion that it probably has not worked because first, it is too soon and two because she has been wearing a bell around her neck on her collar since the day that we got her.
Here is a video of a cat being classically conditioned and I hope you enjoy it just as much as I enjoyed this class.

Final Post

Overview of Learning and Behavior:
At first glance through our text book I thought I knew and was familiar with most concept titles in our book. I was not aware of the depth, extensiveness, and breakdown of each concept. After the first couple chapters, I discovered this, and was really glad that this class went over the specifics of behavioral psych concepts such as operant and classical conditioning.
When you first learn of conditioning it can be hard to grasp. Usually, in Psych 101 you are made to learn the vocabulary, memorize definitions and repeat. However in this class the breakdown of each part of the conditioning process helped me to fully understand conditioning and vocab. such as the US, CS, UCS, CR, Extinction, Stimulus discrimination, ect. After learning the major concepts of conditioning most everything else in the course grew off of the vocab and workings of conditioning.
My Favorite Part:
One of my favorite things I learned and was most interested in in the course was Social Learning Theory. Bandura's Social Learning theory states that people learn from one another via observation, imitation, and modeling. The theory has connections between behaviorist and cognitive learning theories because it invloves attention, memory, and motivation.

I believe this theory is especially relevant when raising children. Children want to mimic and be just like their parents. They can not tell right from wrong yet, so they look to their parents to set the example. This seems easy enough, but we all know this is not the case since every parent unfortunatley does not act responsilbly. I attached a video clip that depicts social learning theory well and I feel everyone can relate to their own lives.

**This video is harsh, but shows what growing children can observe from their parents**

"Most human beavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on latr occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action" -Bandura

Learning and Behavior taught me a lot about how and why people learn and do things. I think this is extremely important to me because I would like to continue to get my teaching certificate after I earn my psych degree. Discovering, in depth, how people learn is going to help me when I go to write lesson plans or come across students that need extra help. Having these go to learning techniques I will be able to evaluate the learning process to the best of my ability. Learning is everywhere from simple school learning to social learning theory humans are continuously learning. Learning and behavior is a pertinent class to understand the human race.

Final project

Throughout this course I learned a bunch of different things. We were introduced to the book through different psychologists some of which I did not know. William James was one of the new psychologists I learned about and who I did my first post on. We also reviewed the classics like Freud, Darwin, and Watson. We went into research methods and reviewed terms such as variables, stimulus and response. When I started going into the chapters I thought things would be review, but I was introduced to a bunch of new terms like overt and convert behavior, functional relationships, appetitive stimulus, contiguity, and the list continues. I was pleasantly surprised at how this book took a different approach to most psych books and learned about a lot of different things. As a psych major, classes can sometimes be very repetitious, but this book was refreshing and new.

One topic that I really liked was learned helplessness. This video gave a great perspective on it and made the topic make a lot of sense. In the book it is defined as a decrement in learning ability that results from exposure to uncontrollable adverse events. This definition may be confusing or open ended. When I read this it still leaves me recognizing the term, but could not define in my own words. This little classroom experiment really demonstrates well.

So learned helplessness is when someone is turned down or fails once and then just stops trying. They may feel discouraged, frustrated, or stupid. Learning about learned helplessness is beneficial because then people would know others feel the same way in similar situations and maybe people could bounce back better. Going in the the elementary education field definitely something to consider for future teachers!

Final Project Post

Like some of you at first I expected this class to be very much the same as the majority of my other psychology courses. However, while some of the material was already familiar to me, I discovered shortly into chapter 1 that the text had an array of topics I had never covered before. More specifically none of my other classes have ever covered Aristotle's theories and the laws of association which is mentioned as soon as page 6. While the debate mentioned between Aristotle and Plato eventually boils down to nature versus nurture, something we have all studied, I found the way in which the text approached the topic to be interesting and refreshing, which is something I experienced many times throughout reading the book.

The topic I found to be most interesting was the section of chapter 5 on understanding phobias. As I mentioned in a previous post both myself and my sister have had to deal with a phobia for a large part of our lives so it was great to see how these fears may have developed or how I could go about treating them. Until taking this course I never thought of any fear I had as something that could have been conditioned but I learned that the fear response that I felt was most likely caused by the association of a previously non-harmful or minimally harmful stimulus which can lead to irrational fear.

This video discusses phobias in children and how it may be treated or transferred from their parents. The treatment process described in the video is similar to that of systematic desensitization. If you are interested youtube has a ton of videos on phobias, both on how to cure them and just showing people's crazy reactions to their fear.

Final Project Post: Overall Material & My Favorite Parts

The course began by reviewing the work of influential psychologists like Albert Bandura and B.F. Skinner. With the study of such psychologists' work, we learned about the different types of behaviorism. Two covered chapters related to the concept of classical conditioning and its many aspects. Next, we learned about phobias and how they can be treated through methods of counter-conditioning, reciprocal inhibition, systematic desensitization, imaginal flooding, and in vivo flooding. The following chapter covered operant conditioning, mainly proposed by B.F. Skinner and the use of his Skinner box, where a bird would learn that certain stimuli and reactions result in a positive outcome (being fed). This led to the concept of reinforcers, being positive or negative, and primary or secondary. The next chapter discussed schedules of reinforcement and how they are classified as continuous or intermittent. Besides those, others schedules include fixed duration, variable duration, three types of response rate schedules, and two types of noncontingent schedules. We covered material on complex schedules of reinforcement as well as the three theories of reinforcement. The next chapter focused on the psychology definition of extinction and its many side effects. Later material covered how negative reinforcement is associated with escape and avoidance behavior, and how such behaviors can lead to disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my fascination with this course and psychology in general is the idea of observational learning. I support Albert Bandura's Social Learning Theory, which relates to behaviors of imitation and mostly states that one's environment and internal events influence behavior. This means that whomever raises a child will most likely influence the child's behavior depending on what the child witnesses in younger years. In other words, a child witnessing harmful behavior by a guardian may act out such behavior towards others because this is what the child has learned as the way to behave. This, of course, is only one example as to how observational learning can develop. Many positive things can come from this as well and the following video shows how observational learning can sometimes teach good qualities.

The course content can be applied to real-life situations through the ideas of Bandura and this video, but also how there are positive or negative reinforcements for every action taken. For example, a negative reinforcement happens every time you swat away a fly. The fly flies away and, therefore, you learn to swat whenever there is a fly around you. Another example is operant conditioning that can be found in many situations. The way a parent disciplines a child can show operant conditioning. For example, a parent assigning the child to a "time-out" will most likely make the child not repeat the afore behavior. This course directly applies to real-life situations in mainly all ways.

Final Project

Learning Theory and Research at first seemed like a research class, like Experimental Psychology. Skimming through the book before the orientation, I thought the chapters would be a review from Introduction, It took the same topics but expanded on them such as classical conditioning, reinforcement, and extinction. The chapter I enjoyed the most was Reinforcement because it can be applied to every aspect of life like raising a child, not just in experiment situations. There are multiple types of reinforcement such as positive and negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and shaping. Positive reinforcement "consists of the presentation of a stimulus following a response, which then leads to an increase in the future strength of that response". On the other hand negative reinforcement is the removal of an unpleasant stimulus that leads to an increase in the future response.

Shaping was the most interesting part of the text. Positive and negative reinforcement is a good tool, but what happens when the stimulus never occurs? If it doesn't happen naturally, it seemed there isn't a way to reinforce the behavior. But shaping is a solution to that problem because it gradually creates a new operant behavior through reinforcement of successive approximations to that behavior.

I enjoyed this topic the most because it can apply to everyday life, not just laboratory settings. It used to seem that things such as behavior could never be an exact science because of the gift of free will, but now I see that human tendencies are similar. You could take reinforcement into any situation past the obvious child raising. It could be applied to a roommate situation, trying to set a stimulus and reinforce a clean habit. It could be applied to a work situation as the boss trying to shape a new employee.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Final Project Post

Learning Theory and Research has been a very interesting class for me. It’s different than all the other psychology classes I have taken. The text really goes into detail about subjects that were only briefly touched on in other classes such as classical conditioning, positive and negative reinforcement, operant conditioning, and shaping. The way the topics were detailed and explained in the text really made me feel like it focused more on the science of these subjects which I enjoyed a lot. I did feel in the beginning that it was going to be another review of things previously learned, but I was definitely wrong.

One of my favorite topics covered in the text was Extinction. I had never heard of the term like this before. Extinction is defined as “the non reinforcement of a previously reinforced response, the result of which is a decrease in the strength of that response.” This can be a helpful tool when it comes to time outs. Instead of yelling at the child causing more of a scene and giving the child the attention they want when they’re misbehaving, simply placing them calmly into time out can help in eliminating the behavior. The child will know that if they behave badly they will be placed in time out, which results in nothing beneficial from their viewpoint, so their behavior will improve. Although, it may take several tries for the behavior to improve, over time the bad behavior will subside.

Another topic of interest to me was the Premack Principle. It says that “a high –probability behavior can be used to reinforce a low-probability behavior.” For example if a child wants to go outside and play with his friends he has to clean his room first. The lower probability of cleaning his room is done first so that he can go outside and play with his friend which is the higher probability. The Premack Principle can be utilized in so many different ways. Here is a video that applies to dog training.

I have been able to take the topics and subjects that were learned in this class and apply them to my everyday life. The topics of Positive and Negative reinforcement as well as punishment have helped me understand better ways of using them for not only discipline, but also using them to build self esteem, independence, and responsibility when it comes to raising children. Being that I am expecting my first child in December I will definitely use what I have learned from this class when utilizing these tools.

Punished by Rewards

I came across a few clips on youtube about a man named Alfie Kohn who wrote the book "Punished by Rewards: The trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive plans, A's, Praise, and other bribes". In the first clip, he talks about how too much praise can do the opposite of the intention and in this case, cause the child to be less likely to share his toys. He believes that the desire to be generous and share is less likely to occur when there is no one around to praise them for it.

On the other hand, he also talks about punishment. He views it very unlikely for children to learn their lessons in a time-out situation. He comically rattles off the scenerios of what might be going on in a childs mind during these punishments to show how they are ineffective.

Alfie Kohn believes that a student that has already recieved the A that they were looking for, all the motivation to keep going is lost. They seem to be less interested in learning the material and more interested in the A to show their parents.

Positive Reinforcement: With Our teenage children


The meaning of self-control is one's ability to control one's emotions, behavior and desires in order to efficiently manage one's future. I would have to state that returning to college after years away, which labels me as a Non-traditional student here at Stockton has been very stressful but in many ways, but in other ways very satisfying and personally fullfilling. I feel that as an adult student I am able to maintain self-control better then if I were to have attended college at a younger age.My self-direction has proven to be a very significant attribute that has allowed me to maintain a 3.6 . Most college students are experiencing "Erikson's 'identity vs. role diffusion" stage were maintaining self-control is a little bit more diffucult. Were for explain a student such as myself (36) seek education for personal fufillment or financial requirements such as family commitments.
For each groups of the traditional and non-traditional students are biggest task is to allow our emotions to be present but to be maintained under good management. Students most also learn appropriate channels to release any frustration or irritations before they become unruly or take over or worst compromise one's academic journey in a negative way.
I have grown throughout this journey along with my family. I have been able to show my children that maintaining good self-control can bring about great success. That managing emotions, developing great relationships, establishing a great identity that includes purpose will in return develop integrity.
I feel that through this experience I have learned and my family as well that the underlining meaning of self-control is that we all most learn that there are consquences to one's actions, both good or bad, but still consquences and that to always strive for more postive then negative ones. To always remember that learning self-control is a life-long process.

Here is a video that relates to self control,
Post by Natalie Knight

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Negative Punishment

Negative punishment consists of the removal of a certain event following a response, which then leads to a decrease in the future strength of that response. A loss of employment for being obnoxious and a loss of dessert for complaining at the dinner table are both examples of negative punishment. There are two types of negative punishment: time out and response cost. Time out involves the lossof access to positive reinforces for a brief period of time following the occurence of a problem behavior. Time out has become popular with modern-day parents, who frequently attempt to punish a child's misbehavior by sending them to the bedroom or making them stand in a corner for several minutes. I am in favor of time out as a negative punishment because it really makes a child upset that they are taken away from an activity that gave them enjoyment.

Positive Punishment

Positive Punishment is used to decrease certain events from happening again. When a person or animal acts in a way that is not acceptable the parent, owner or boss may reprimand them in a way that they don't like. For example a employee talks back to his boss so his boss screams at him and threatens him, the employee does not like getting yelled at so he probably wont talk back to his boss again because he is scared to get yelled at again and fears for his job. When using positive punishment you make the person you are punishing do something that they do not like and they will likely not do it again.

Gender Roles

At a very young age parents instill in children of what sex they are, what are the proper behaviors of each sex and that they could never be the opposite sex. Labeling children at early ages could be at a disadvantage to a child because they will feel some sort of restriction if they were based to do certain aspects. For example girls wear dresses and males wear pants as a quick way of identification. Here in the Us it may not be a norm but in certain countries it is strictly enforced, and if not followed you are being rebellious. Kids get a lot of these ideas from their parents. Many parents have a tendency to "correct" their kids' choices and actions when they don't fit gender norms. Kids pick up on it quickly that straying outside the stereotype is a "bad thing."

Taste Aversion Conditioning

Taste aversion conditioning is a version of classical conditioning where food is purposely prepared with some type of illness and from then on the food is associated with the illness and will be avoided. This is a common occurrence among many people. For example, I used to really like checkers fast food and then I got food poisoning and no longer will I eat checkers. Even when I smell it, it just reminds me of that incident. Another example for me would be tequila, for what should be obvious reasons, I will never drink tequila ever again. According to the textbook on page 422 and 423, there are many undergraduate students who feel the same way.
There is also more information on a typical experiment that is done involving rats and poisoning them if you would like to read more about it. I understand why they are necessary but I am still trying to get past all the horrible animal tests.

Latent inhibition occurs because we are more likely to associate a relatively novel item, such as an usual liquor, with sickness than we would a more familiar item such as beer. After I read about taste aversion conditioning I actively payed attention to how many times it effected myself or someone I knew. My sister has had many instances with limes in her drinks that ended unfavorably and instead of recognizing the real problem, she believes if she removes the lime flavor that she will avoid the sickness to follow. This is just one of many examples, if you ask anyone I am sure they will be able to give you many ways taste aversion conditioning has effected their lives as well.

There are some videos on Youtube showing taste aversive conditioning but nothing I could find was scholarly. If you are interested there is a video "Why I hate bananas"(a girl singing about taste aversion). I doubt anyone will learn from this but it is pretty funny.


In chapters 5 and 9 of our book we learn about phobias. More specifically we learn about how they develop and how they can be treated. This is of particular interest to me because I have dealt with a phobia for most of my life. At the risk of not sounding manly in a class full of girls, spiders seriously freak me out!

Treating a phobia is normally done with 1 of 2 techniques. Systematic desensitization or flooding. Systematic desensitization works by exposing the patient to increasing levels of stressful stimuli while at the same time using relaxation techniques. This is counter conditioning. Flooding simply works by exposing the patient to the stressful stimuli, and taking away the option of avoiding the stimuli. These techniques can be gradual and take a certain amount of time. I'm assuming the length of the treatment depends on the level of stress the patient feels when exposed to the stimuli. However the video I found shows a therapist who claims to be able to treat a phobia in as little as 3 hours. I found this very interesting and thought you might too. This is the first of a 3 part video. I am only posting the first in order to save room on the blog but if you are interested the other parts can be found on youtube.

WARNING!!! This video has a snake in it, if you happen to have a fear of snakes you may not want to watch it. I know I wouldn't want to watch a video of a giant spider...

Final Post

Learning: Theory and Research has been a course that consistently found ways to keep me interested and invested in taking in as much information as possible. At the start, when going through the chapter on classical conditioning, I really didn't believe that I was going to walk away with knowledge that was new to me. How much can you really learn about classical conditioning? But I was wrong. As soon as the text delved into portions about appetitive and aversive conditioning, I was hooked. The portion of the course on phobias was very interesting to me as were the ways in which you can overcome a phobia. I had no idea that there were so many methods, some that work better than others, to rid yourself of something that you are truly fearful of.

One of the most interesting topics to me, covered in the text, was high order conditioning. High order conditioning is defined as when a stimulus is associated with a conditioned stimulus, it can become a conditioned stimulus itself. For example, my 2 year old son, Ryan was always told to stay away from the water at my mom's house. She lives right on the bay and feels it is dangerous for the kids to be near. So since he was walking, she would tell him, don't go near the water, their are crabs in it and they will pinch you. My father followed this up by showing him a crab, which scared him. Now, a year from when this began, when he sees water, he immediately associates it with the crabs that he is afraid of. This hold true when it comes to a pool, the ocean, or water at a water park. His aversion to water isn't a phobia, because he eventually will go in the water. It is more of a hesitation. Regardless, it stems from his fear of the crabs "pinching his toes."

Another topic that I truly enjoyed was on positive punishment and reinforcement as well as negative punishment and reinforcement. So much of it I can apply to the way that I discipline and teach my own children. Positive reinforcement is something that I have always tried to implement with my kids and after reading the text on the subject, I feel even stronger about using it more often. It is something that really works and anything that will help make my job as a parent any easier is something that is of great value to me. Below is a great youtube video that illustrates these terms perfectly.

When I signed up for this course, I really didn't expect that it would be so applicable to daily life. In each chapter, I found a way to relate to different terms, experiments and ideas. Just yesterday, I took my kids to the water park and noticed that when an alarm sounded, a bucket dumped water and the children that liked getting wet ran toward it and the children that didn't like being splashed ran away. It took one or two times of this happening before my kids made their decisions and knew which way to go as soon as they heard that alarm. I stopped for a minute to really take note of the fact that operant conditioning is all around us. For me, this shows how valuable this course really was and walking away from it, I can honestly say that I have learned a lot.

Cry It Out

Many parents have different beliefs when it comes to allowing their children to cry it out. The term means different things to different people. Some believe that babies should cry until they exhaust themselves, when it comes to a battle of wills between the child and the parent. Others believe that it should only be used to a certain extent, while some people don't believe in it at all, feeling that it affects your child's self confidence, security and self esteem in the future.

A typical example is getting your child to sleep through the night. You put your baby to bed in their crib and, at some point, they begin to cry. A lot of parents implement an extinction method of letting the child "cry it out." Instead of running to their child's whimper, they allow the child to see that their mom or dad is not going to jump every single time, and this signals that it really is bedtime. This method takes a few days to fully implement but, as with any extinction, day by day it gets easier, and the child cries less. Eventually, you will have a child that sleeps through the night. Everyone seems to win, parent and child.

On the other side of the coin, what other behavior are you extinguishing. A baby comes to rely on its parents and is secure in the fact that their mom or dad will be there for them when needed. By using the cry it out method, are you teaching your children the opposite? Are you conditioning your kids to not trust the fact that you will always be there? Some believe that this is far-fetched and that they are only babies, while others strongly believe the opposite. Either way, this is a prime example of a method of extinction that is commonly used in many households today.

Contagious behavior

People have always said yawns are contagious, but who knew that there was actually something called contagious behavior! Contagious behavior is defined as a more or less instinctive or reflexive behavior triggered by an occurrence of the same behavior in another individual. The first example in the text was yawning. (pg 459) Contagious behavior is apparent in humans and also in some animals. Fear is another thing that is ‘contagious.’ Ducks are another example, when a flock of ducks are together and one duck flies off, all the other ducks follow, even if there is not potential danger. Laughing can also be seen under contagious behavior. People usually do not laugh all that much when they are alone for example watching a funny movie, but when with a group or crowd of people laughing is contagious. Television programs know this and that is why there are laughing tracks or live audiences laughing in comedy shows.

The Premack Approach to Punishment

We learned about the Premack principle in chapter five that states a high- probability behavior can be used to reinforce a low-probability behavior. For example, if your class is always unfocussed during reading you would give them the option of a game of kick ball only if they stay focused during your reading lesson. Well, the same can be applied to punishment in chapter nine.

Take, for example, a child who hates school. It would be much easier for this child to do his homework if each time he didn't he would lose his recess time, and be forced to complete his homework while his peers were outside playing.

Simply, this principle states that punishment is the opposite of reinforcement: If reinforcement strengthens behavior, then punishment weakens behavior.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Avoidance conditioning plays a critical role in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is when an individual expresses impulses or thoughts that lead to repetitive actions in response to the obsession. Obsessions may include getting contaminated by touching something with your hands, so repetitive hand-washing serves as a way to "rid" oneself of such contaminations. Since the obsession tends to increase anxiety, the compulsion is drawn out to decrease anxiety. Avoidance plays a role when an OCD-sufferer, after a contamination episode, later avoids touching the initially contaminated item a second time. This is when phobias against, say, garbage can appear. According to the two-process theory, feeling contaminated by touching something is the classically conditioned response whereas the compulsive hand-washing is an operant response. This two-process theory does not explain every detail about OCD, as many people cannot pin-point the exact cause of their OCD symptoms. What is definite is that obsessive-compulsive disorder can result after a stressful period in one's life.

Violence and Children

Violence is a huge issue in our world. Everywhere you turn there is some kind of violence. In chapter 12 of our text they discuss “Social Learning and Media Violence” and the effects it has on children. Children are exposed to violence everyday through watching TV and playing video games. Even what seems like an innocent cartoon can expose them to some sort of violence. This exposure to violence is causing children to become increasingly aggressive. Our book talks about multiple studies that have been conducted that directly correlates aggressive behavior in children to TV and Media influences. For more information you can read the section of the text on pages 473-475.

Here is an interesting video that discusses this topic:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Repression as Avoidance

Chapter 9 discusses the topics of escape and avoidance. The concept of avoidance behavior was interesting to me. Avoidance can be defined as performance of a behavior which prevents an aversive stimulus from occurring. The author states that escape is the easier of the two to understand and researchers generally show more interest in studying avoidance. The two-process theory shows that there are two distinct steps to avoidance behavior. First, an individual is classically conditioned to a fear or anxiety response to a conditioned stimulus (CS). Then, operant conditioning takes effect in which avoiding that same stimulus is negatively reinforced by a reduction of fear or anxiety.
But what if the CS are memories and thoughts? In the "and Furthermore" section in the textbook on pages 346-347 the author talks about the idea of repression as avoidance. It suggests that the classically conditioned response of fear to the stimulus of traumatic memories will cause the operant conditioning, that avoiding these types of thoughts by removing them from conscious awareness will negatively reinforce the repression. I never thought that something like repression would be learned the same way that Pavlov and Skinner taught their animals.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Stimulus Discrimination

As in classical conditioning, the opposite of stimulus generalization in operant conditioning is stimulus discrimination, the tendency for an operant response to be emitted more in the prescence of on stimulus than another. Discrimination training , as applied to operant conditioning, involves reinforcement of responding in the prescence of one stimulus and no another. The latter is called a discriminative stimulus for extinction, which is a stimulus that signals the absence of reinforcement.

There are videos on youtube that use a lab rat to illustrate this type of stimulus but I'm not too familiar with uploading videos to blogs. Check it out if you can.

Extreme Operant Conditioning - Aversive Therapy

Dr. Matthew Israel, Director of the Judge Rotenberg Center, has a different method of teaching. He deals with problem chidren with a variety of issues, many needed some sort of behavior modification. The specific therapy that he uses with about half of his students is shock therapy. Students are hooked up to a backpack from different points of their body, and when their aggressive behavior emerges, a buzzer sounds and they are shocked as a consequence to their actions. The doctor's belief is that this is helping the students learn that aggressive, violent behavior is not tolerated, and eventually they begin to act differently to avoid the shock. His beliefs are based on work that he did with B.F. Skinner.

Many protest this, feeling that it is inhumane and unethical, to the point where the UN has stepped in debating whether or not this is a form of torture. Many parents back the Center up, claiming that their children have benefited from this type of treatment. I personally feel that this crosses a line and that behavior can be modified in ways that are not painful to the child.

**The clip doesn't seem to be working. You can watch the entire report on Nightline at this link


The title of the piece is "Treatment or Torture"

Extinction Burst

In chapter 8 of our text book we learn about extinction and its side effects. When implementing an extinction technique it is possible for the subject to display some emotional behavior, become agitated, use techniques that were once used to obtain reinforcement which is called resurgence or even become depressed. The subjuct will often experience extinction burst and an increase in variability. When the extinction technique is first used the frequency of the subjects response will increase.

Classical Conditioning

According to the text book classical conditioning is when one stimulus that does not elicit a certain response is paired or associtated with a second stimulus that does elicit a response so therefor the first response also elictits a response. An example of this that happens in my own home is that I have a guinea pig named Meatloaf and she chirps really loud and runs to her food bowl when she hears the fridge open or when she hears a bag ruffling. This stems from Meatloaf being fed after hearing the fridge open and bags ruffling.

Accidentally Rewarding Bad Behavior

Extinction is a non-reinforcement of a previously reinforced response, the result of which is a decrease in the strength of that response.

In chapter eight the book mentions an example of a child that whines in order to get candy. The child's parents have given in so many times it is now expected that if the chid wines he will receive candy, ice cream, ect. In order to extinguish this response you must not reward the whining. If you successfully do this (refusing to provide the candy when the child whines) then the whining will decline.

I found a video that I think is rather amusing- Watch how this child whines and surprisingly yells and demands ice cream and soda from his mother. She desperately needs a lesson in extinction...


Phobias are an interesting phenomena in that the alarm is much larger in proportion to the actual threat. It causes fear and anxiety towards a situation or object. Phobias can be attributed to many causes, including overgeneralization and classical conditioning (how can we forget Little Albert?), but many people report not knowing the particular cause of their phobia. In treating phobias, systems include systematic desensitization (training in relaxing), counter-conditioning, reciprocal inhibition, and different types of flooding therapy. Phobias are very real and serious as they can affect any human, but what is really alarming is the various array of phobias people express. The following video shows a somewhat humorous portrayal of random phobias.

Unschooling is an educational philosophy centered around allowing children to learn through everyday occurances such as play, household responsibility, and social interaction rather than a traditional school curriculum. Educator John Holt coined the expression in the 1970s and regarded as the 'father' of unschooling. The following clip is about a mother of three that has been unschooling her children. It seems like even she does not know if being unschooled is the right decision or not.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Positive Reinforcement in children

Positive reinforcement is an important tool is helping to build your child's self esteem. It is important that it is used properly in order to help strengthen the desired response. If it is overused it may lead to the child looking for the reinforcement and not concentrating on learning the desired behavior. Here is a good video that demonstrates this.....

Saturday, July 3, 2010

So Far So Good


Why should families talk to their children about 911 calls? This video proves it! Five year old Savannah takes the phone for her dad after he can not speak due to shortness of breath. Other interviews on the news with Savannah, mom, and dad say how they had practiced what to do if she had to call 911. Luckily, Savannah remembered what she had learned and was able to save her dads life. Not only is that is wonderful learning experience of why we should talk to our children about emergencies, but also an adorable video!