Saturday, July 10, 2010

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.


  1. Shaping is very interesting and can be seen in not only children, but animals too. Once a behavior is reinforced it is hard to extinguish. This is why my one puppy always need to be held. When she whined and someone picked her up, now she always cries until she is held.

  2. I enjoyed your post and feel the same way :)