Saturday, July 10, 2010

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.

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