Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Welcome Summer 17' Students

Enjoy posting and commenting!  Please keep comments to your classmates posts above this one.


  1. Theories of Punishment

    There are many theories of punishment. However, on page 374 of "Introduction to Learning and Behavior" by Russell A. Powell, P. Lynne Honey, and Diane G. Symbaluk state research to investigate the effectiveness of punishment has been great but attention to developing and testing theories of punishment have been minimal.

    One theory is the Conditioned Suppression Theory. The theory is based on early work by Skinner in the year of 1938. It was discovered by Skinner that punishment can stop a behavior but the behavior resumes when the punishment is withdrawn. This is sort of a dichotomy since the punishment in the first place was to stop a certain behavior.

    Skinner considered this: punishment typically generates a emotional response. This suppresses any kind of ongoing appetitive behavior. Furthermore, take a rat for example; when a rat is given a shock when it presses a lever, for food, it becomes upset and it does not continue to press the lever.

    As the book states, "when the rat is shocked for pressing a lever that produces food, it becomes upset that it loses interest in the food and therefore does not press the lever to obtain it. If however the shock is withdrawn the rat resumes lever pressing as soon as it calms down enough for its interest in food to be revived (Powell, Honey, and Symbaluk 374)."

    An analogy in for contrast purposes is that if Tyler stops teasing his sister, when he told not to, it is because he is upset and does not have time to pay attention to her. Thus as the book clearly states, the conditioned suppression theory of punishment states punishment does not weaken behavior but produces an emotional response that interferes with the occurrence of a behavior.

    What was interesting was that Skinner found this conclusion: punishment is ineffective to produce a lasting behavior. Interestingly, Skinner's experiment did not use a punishment that was strong because he utilized a device that slapped the rat on its' paw when attempting to press the lever. Subsequent research, although it is a form of torture and cruelty, reveals that more stronger forms of punishment are found to be effective. A form is using strong electric shocks will be capable to suppress behavior for a longer amount of time as stated by Azrin and Holz in the year of 1966 in "Introduction to Learning and Behavior." This was stated on page 374 of this book as well.

    Another theory is the Avoidance Theory of Punishment. You'll be pleased to notice that punishment involves avoidance conditioning, which the response of avoidance consists any behavior other than the behavior that is to be punished. This was stated by Dinsmoor in the year of 1954 according to our book "Introduction to Learning and Behavior." In other words, as the book states, when a behavior like jumping over the fence is strengthened according to a form of shock avoidance in an avoidance situation, then the behavior of doing "anything other than lever pressing" is reinforced by shock avoidance in a punishment of lever pressing situation.

    Reference: Powell, R. A., Honey, P. L., & Symbaluk, D. G. (2017). Introduction to learning and behavior. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

  2. Avoidance
    By: Ramanpreet Kaur

    Discussing Avoidance and Escape

    Avoidance was discussed in the book and the slides provided for the “Psychology of learning” class. Being a part of the class, I found it interesting to write about avoidance and the topics that go alongside it. Escape and avoidance are two synonymous and linked terms that are promptly shown in our powerpoints by Professor Berg, as well as our very own “Learning and Behavior” textbook, which so greatly illustrates these two phenomenons.

    One slide in the powerpoint had “Escape” as the title. Escape was discussed by the following: “Escape from rain by running indoors when it starts” is a scenario where one would benefit from escaping the situation. It would come into play since we are prone to run away from anything that has the potential to cause us harm or illness. In this case, the probability of individuals falling ill would be high because our body temperature would decrease unnaturally due to heavy rainfall. The end result would be a flu or a cold.

    Falling ill is something that no one likes. We invariably are led to avoid certain things that cause illness. The same can be said to avoid heavy rainfall and downpour since our bodies are not used to getting sticky from the water, and then being forced to go home and take a long shower as a result. Furthermore, the itchiness and the uncleanliness that comes with that kind of water is annoying in itself. Hence, our motivation to take a leave from such situations (like rain).

    Continuing forward our discussion of avoidance, I would like to compare how the scenario of avoidance is contrasted with the discussion of “Escape.” In the very same powerpoint, it states that avoidance would be the following: “Avoid the rain completely by getting inside before the storm starts.” I thought this was a wonderful point to make as when we don’t want to deal with a certain stimuli, we would just completely rule it out, and do anything it takes to avoid it. This is the same case and the same scenario. I found the topic of avoidance and escape to be extremely significant so much that I decided to write a post about it. It definitely makes for an interesting discussion. Hope to see some comments on this so we can learn from one another.