Learning Week 1 notes
Learning Week 1 notes Psyc 4450
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Elizabeth Heitmann on Tuesday February 2, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Psyc 4450 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute taught by Christopher L. Hubbell in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 28 views. For similar materials see Learning in Psychlogy at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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Date Created: 02/02/16
Week of January 25 A Brief History of Learning I. Introduction a. What is Learning? i. Learning: a more or less permanent change in behavior potential due to particular kinds of experiences ii. learning is happening all the time 1. helps individuals adapt to current environment 2. one of the main functions of the brain b. Why Study Learning? i. 3 assumptions psychologists make in their study of humans 1. Behavior is lawful a. Behavior is predictable and follows certain rules such as: i. Determinism: all past experiences determine what we will do next ii. Free will: we choose to do things and act certain ways iii. Most psychologists believe behavior follows more closely to determinism than free will, but there is still some level of choice involved 2. Behavior can be controlled a. As stated above behavior can be controlled by past experiences b. Also controlled by societal factors like laws 3. The ability to control behavior is desirable a. Controlling behavior is desirable because it allows society to function better c. The Use of Animals i. Used because the same basic processes occur in all species ii. Advantages; 1. Environmental control a. Easier with animals because there are fewer ethical issues when working with animals in certain situations i. Example: separating a mouse from its mother 2. Simpler system than humans iii. Is animal and human behavior similar? 1. Yes because behavior is mostly determined d. What is Learning Theory? i. Emerged from converging events that started 600 years ago ii. Renaissance 1. Polymath: person who is an expert in many fields a. Most scientists during the Renaissance were polymaths b. Gave rise to the term Renaissance man 2. Leonardo Da Vinci a. Made many observational drawings of anatomy and nature b. Set up and performed experiments c. Considered the father of modern science iii. 1543: Scientific Revolution 1. Copernicus wrote On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres which stated that the solar system was helio centric (revolves around the sun) a. Father of modern astronomy 2. Vesalius wrote the first anatomy textbook a. Revolutionized this field b. Father of modern human anatomy iv. Age of Enlightenment 1. Following the Renaissance in the 1700s 2. Sought to mobilize intellectual exchange, end superstition, and separate church and state v. Industrial Revolution saw more advancements in technology 1. Wilhelm Wundt a. Applied the scientific method to the mind b. Performed the first empirical study of the mind c. Father of modern psychology vi. Biology saw changes 1. Theory of evolution formed a. Psychologists applied this theory to the mind in order to study it II. Philosophical Roots a. The Scientific Method i. Epistemology: theory of knowledge. Answers the questions: 1. What is knowledge? 2. How is knowledge acquired?**(most important) 3. How do we know what we know? ii. Rationalism vs. Empiricism 1. Rationalism: all knowledge is gained through careful reasoning 2. Empiricism: all knowledge is gained through careful observation a. Formed ground rules for the scientific method 3. Not mutually exclusive, but they are compared often iii. In order for an experiment to be scientific, it must: 1. Have a hypothesis 2. Involve collecting data and analyzing that data 3. Have repeatable steps to guard against mistake and confusion 4. Document, archive and share (full disclosure) b. Are People Machines? i. In 1600s, human behavior was considered unpredictable 1. Technological advances led to the development of complex machines 2. Led to people wondering if people are also just complex machines ii. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) 1. Rationalist 2. “I think, therefore I am” if a being is capable of thought then it is alive 3. Offered first explanation of human behavior a. Dualism: body is a machine made of matter that follows the rules of nature; the mind/soul is not made of matter therefore does not follow that laws of nature and is the source of free will. 4. The reflex action a. Pineal gland where the mind and body interact; seat of the soul i. Start of duality ii. Body and mind can influence each other which accounted for more animalistic behaviors appearing in humans b. Nerves are excited by an outside stimulus c. Pineal gland sends “animal spirits” (spinal fluid) to the part of the body that felt the stimulus iii. Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) 1. Rejected dualism 2. There is no mystical properties to the mind. Everything is real and has material substance, so everything follows the laws of nature. 3. All human behavior is governed by hedonism a. Hedonism: the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain 4. Empiricist iv. Julien Offray de la Mettrie (1709-1751) 1. Earliest materialist of the enlightenment a. Materialism: the mind is physical matter. 2. Wrote Machine Man a. Rejected dualism b. Proposed metaphor of man being a machine 3. Concluded that thought is the result of a biological function c. Associations and the Contents of the Mind i. John Locke (1632-1704) 1. One of the first British Empiricists a. British Empiricists believed that all ideas are built up entirely from experiences b. Mind only receives simple sensations and that these simple inputs are combines to form complex ideas 2. Theory of Mind cited as the source of the modern idea of self 3. Postulated that we are born with a blank slate or tabula rasa a. Humans are born without innate ideas 4. Associations of ideas formed when young are stronger than ones made later because the slate is more blank ii. David Hume (1711-1804) 1. Another British Empiricist 2. Strove to create naturalistic science of man 3. Believed that desire governed human behavior and reason is the slave of the passions 4. Humans only have knowledge of what they experience iii. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) 1. Started as a rationalist 2. Read Hume and developed a school of thought that combined rationalism and empiricism a. Both are flawed, but both schools of thought are needed to study the mind 3. Believed thought existed in the mind before experience writes on it a. Prioris: inherent set of assumptions or ideas that help mold and organize experiences d. Laws of Association i. Associationism: idea that mental processes operate by the joining of sensations to form ideas ii. Need to follow these laws: 1. Contiguity: associations are formed between events that occur together 2. Frequency: the more often event occur together, the stronger the association becomes 3. Intensity: the greater the affected association, the stronger it becomes iii. The key to understanding behavior is in associations
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