Learning Theory and Learning Theory "Learning Theory" is a discipline of psychology that attempts to explain how an organism learns. It consists of many different theories of learning, including instincts, social facilitation, observation, formal teaching, memory, mimicry, and classical and operant conditioning. It is these last two that are of most interest to animal trainers.
Law of effect Operant conditioning, sometimes called instrumental learning, was first extensively studied by Edward L. Thorndike —who observed the behavior of cats trying to escape from home-made puzzle boxes. With repeated trials ineffective responses occurred less frequently and successful responses occurred more frequently, so the cats escaped more and more quickly.
In short, some consequences strengthen behavior and some consequences weaken behavior. By plotting escape time against trial number Thorndike produced the first known animal learning curves through this procedure.
That is, responses are retained when they lead to a successful outcome and discarded when they do not, or when they produce aversive effects.
This usually happens without being planned by any "teacher", but operant conditioning has been used by parents in teaching their children for thousands of years. Skinner[ edit ] Main article: Skinner — is referred to as the father of operant conditioning, and his work is frequently cited in connection with this topic.
His book "The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis",  initiated his lifelong study of operant conditioning and its application to human and animal behavior. Following the ideas of Ernst MachSkinner rejected Thorndike's reference to unobservable mental states such as satisfaction, building his analysis on observable behavior and its equally observable consequences.
Operant conditioning, in his opinion, better described human behavior as it examined causes and effects of intentional behavior. To implement his empirical approach, Skinner invented the operant conditioning chamberor "Skinner Box", in which subjects such as pigeons and rats were isolated and could be exposed to carefully controlled stimuli.
Unlike Thorndike's puzzle box, this arrangement allowed the subject to make one or two simple, repeatable responses, and the rate of such responses became Skinner's primary behavioral measure. These records were the primary data that Skinner and his colleagues used to explore the effects on response rate of various reinforcement schedules.
He also drew on many less formal observations of human and animal behavior.
Skinner defined new functional relationships such as "mands" and "tacts" to capture some essentials of language, but he introduced no new principles, treating verbal behavior like any other behavior controlled by its consequences, which included the reactions of the speaker's audience.
Concepts and procedures[ edit ] Origins of operant behavior: Thus one may ask why it happens in the first place. The answer to this question is like Darwin's answer to the question of the origin of a "new" bodily structure, namely, variation and selection.
Similarly, the behavior of an individual varies from moment to moment, in such aspects as the specific motions involved, the amount of force applied, or the timing of the response. Variations that lead to reinforcement are strengthened, and if reinforcement is consistent, the behavior tends to remain stable.
However, behavioral variability can itself be altered through the manipulation of certain variables. Reinforcement and Punishment psychology Reinforcement and punishment are the core tools through which operant behavior is modified. These terms are defined by their effect on behavior.
Either may be positive or negative. Positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement increase the probability of a behavior that they follow, while positive punishment and negative punishment reduce the probability of behaviour that they follow.
Another procedure is called "extinction". Extinction occurs when a previously reinforced behavior is no longer reinforced with either positive or negative reinforcement. During extinction the behavior becomes less probable. There are a total of five consequences.
Positive reinforcement occurs when a behavior response is rewarding or the behavior is followed by another stimulus that is rewarding, increasing the frequency of that behavior.
This procedure is usually called simply reinforcement. In the Skinner Box experiment, the aversive stimulus might be a loud noise continuously inside the box; negative reinforcement would happen when the rat presses a lever to turn off the noise.
Positive punishment also referred to as "punishment by contingent stimulation" occurs when a behavior response is followed by an aversive stimulus. Positive punishment is a confusing term, so the procedure is usually referred to as "punishment". Negative punishment penalty also called "punishment by contingent withdrawal" occurs when a behavior response is followed by the removal of a stimulus.
Extinction occurs when a behavior response that had previously been reinforced is no longer effective. The rat would typically press the lever less often and then stop.A positive effect I see over and over again in my classroom is a student's increased buy-in to the worth of an assignment when it is somehow technologically oriented.
Positive reinforcement is often associated with a rewards system, when, in reality, it is an attempt to create sustained positive behavior.
For example, a limited time sales bonus is not positive reinforcement. It is an example of a reward. Sustained quarterly sales bonuses based on exceeding goals is positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement is an interesting technique that helps teachers to improve the overall behavior of students.
If positive reinforcement was to be explained in a couple of words, it would be 'timely encouragement'. The effects of positive reinforcement and punishment on model induced altruism was assessed on the subsequent generosity of 60 boys aged in relation to a no reinforcement control.
This study employed an anonymous test of the child's generosity and did so on both an immediate and a delayed test. The effects of positive reinforcement and punishment on model induced altruism was assessed on the subsequent generosity of 60 boys aged in relation to a no reinforcement control.
Similarly, Piazza, Fisher, Hanley, Remick, Contrucci, and Tammera () compared the effects of negative reinforcement with combined positive and negative reinforcement, with and without extinction.
Three participants with .