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PSYCH305: The Psychology of Learning and Behavior

Unit 13: Real World Applications   As educated consumers, we should strive to take our education and effectively apply it to the everyday and real world applications.  Psychology, particularly learning theory is incorporated into significant aspects of mass media, formal and informal education and family and relationships systems.  As educated consumers and citizens, we should effectively understand how learning theory is integrated in our lives and cultures.

Unit 13 Time Advisory
This unit will take approximately 17 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 13.1: 2.0 hours

☐    Subunit 13.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 13.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 13.4: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 13.5: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 13.6: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 13.7: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 13.8: 3.0 hours

Unit13 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Describe how classical conditioning can be used to explain various behavioral phenomena in applied settings.
  • Describe how operant conditioning can be used to explain various behavioral phenomena in applied settings.
  • Describe how social learning theory can be used to explain various behavioral phenomena in applied settings. 

13.1 Applications of Pavlovian Conditioning   - Reading: City University of New York: Dr. Andrew R. Delamater’s “Pavlovian Conditioning: From Learning to Performance” Link: City University of New York: Dr. Andrew R. Delamater’s “Pavlovian Conditioning: From Learning to Performance” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this entire text.  Once again, this is a particularly cognitively demanding piece.  Your understanding of this material will be facilitated by liberal highlighting and taking notes.
 
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13.2 Is Racism Learned?   - Reading: Kellogg Foundation: Dr. Viviana A. Bompadre’s “Stacking the Deck Against Racism: A Psychological Explanation For Impartiality” Link: Kellogg Foundation: Dr. Viviana A. Bompadre’s “Stacking the Deck Against Racism: A Psychological Explanation For Impartiality” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this entire article. The title of this article is somewhat misleading. Racism is one form of prejudice against or for a particular group based on some identifying characteristic. The student should be aware that prejudice is an attitude, while discrimination is a behavior, not necessarily based on prejudice. For example, I may dislike persons of Asian descent, and therefore refuse to hire them as police officers. However, if my police department has a minimum height policy for officers, Asians may be systematically discriminated against based simply on physical characteristics and not on prejudicial intent.
 
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13.3 Learning and Body Image Issues   - Reading: Cognitive—Behavioral Psychology of New York’s “Body Dysmorphic Disorder” Link: Cognitive—Behavioral Psychology of New York’s "Body Dysmorphic Disorder"(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this entire article.  BDD is a highly personally disruptive that, much like other anxiety-based disorders, is often effectively treated using exposure/response prevention (ERP) techniques.
 
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13.4 Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Among Children   - Web Media: YouTube: UCLAHealth’s “Treating Children with OCD” Link: YouTube: UCLAHealth’s "Treatment for Children with OCD" (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Please view this brief 4-minute video on treating obsessive compulsive disorder using ERP.
 
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13.5 What We Can Learn from Animals   - Reading: Behavior Matters’ “Animal Training Philosophy” Link: Behavior Matters’ “Animal Training Philosophy” (HTML)
 
Instructions: A nice personal account of how someone came to “love” behaviorism.
 
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13.6 Verbal Behaviors and the Development of Language   - Reading: Northern Illinois University: Amy Bauer and Christine Maricich’s “B.F. Skinner, Behavioralism, & Language Behavior” Link: Northern Illinois University: Amy Bauer and Christine Maricich’s "B.F. Skinner, Behavioralism & Language Behavior"(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this entire article. One of the more controversial issues related to behaviorism was the neglect of this paradigm in explaining mental processes that were not (according to behaviorists) directly observable and, thus, were not amenable to the “scientific” study of psychology.  Skinner attempted to address this issue in his book “Verbal Behavior,” which unfortunately led to more questions than answers.  As the authors note, a growing disdain for behaviorism after the publication of this book as being an insufficient model for explaining complex learning led to the rise of cognitive psychology and neuroscientific models.
 
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13.7 Problem Solving and Insight: Is this Learning?   - Reading: SomePsychology.com’s “Problem Solving (Insight)” Link: SomePsychology.com’s "Problem Solving (Insight)"(HTML)
 
Instructions: Some of you may have heard of “Archimede’s Principle.” This brief paper shows how this discovery came about.
 
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  • Web Media: YouTube: Dr. Robert Epstein’s “A Pigeon Solves the Classic Box-and-Banana Problem” Link: YouTube: Dr. Robert Epstein’s "A Pigeon Solves the Classic Box-and-Banana Problem" (YouTube)
     
     Instructions: Real laboratory footage showing a pigeon solving Wolfgang Kohler's famous box-and-banana problem, which he studied with chimpanzees in the early 1900s. Dr. Robert Epstein and his colleagues used operant conditioning techniques to get pigeons to solve this problem "spontaneously" in the 1980s.  Depending on their previous experience, pigeons could solve this problem in a human-like fashion in as little as a minute. This pigeon has learned to push boxes and to climb, and it has been rewarded with grain for pecking at a small toy banana. In this situation, the banana is out of reach and the box is not beneath it. At first the pigeon looks confused, then it begins pushing the box - sighting the toy banana as it pushes - and then stops pushing when the box is beneath the banana, then climbs and pecks.
     
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13.8 Superstitions   - Web Media: PsychClassic’s “B.F Skinner’s Classic: Superstition in the Pigeon” Link: PsychClassic’s “B.F. Skinner's Classic: Superstition in the Pigeon” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire article.  B.F. Skinner studied the manner in which pigeons could be conditioned to develop superstitious behaviors. This behavior often is common in humans as well.  Often, for instance in baseball, players have certain mannerisms or ritualized routines that may have been associated with positive outcomes in the past. See the link below for examples.
 
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