Learning & Behaviorism

Ch. 6:  Learning & Behaviorism   Discussion.

h. 6:  Learning & Behaviorism (Chapter 6):  This chapter covers principles of learning and the concepts related to a major psychological theory – Behaviorism.  Discuss the following after you read the chapter and watch the associated film Learning and Behavior (26 min)

1)  In the text, Kalat outlines the assumptions made by behaviorists. Considered together, two of these assumptions clearly challenge the notion of free will (discussed in Ch. 1, free will vs. determinism). Behaviorists assume determinism, that every behavior has a discoverable cause; they also assume that mentalistic explanations are not good explanations for behavioral phenomena. These assumptions question our typical everyday explanations for our behavior: “Because I wanted to…”, “Because I felt it was the thing to do…” These all imply that we freely chose to engage in the behavior. According to the behaviorists, our behavior was molded by our “reinforcement histories”—we have little choice in the matter.

  • How do you feel about the behaviorist assertion that free will is an illusion? What arguments can you make for or against this assertion? How might a behaviorist counter-argue?  Explain your response.

2) Learning plays a prominent role in human experience. Share with your classmates an example from your own life where learning has occurred.  The example can reflect some form of  Classical Conditioning, Operant Conditioning, or Social Learning.  Describe and explain your experience in behavioral terms.  For example, if the experience seems to reflect Classical Conditioning (associative learning), what would you identify as the unconditioned stimulus, conditioned stimulus and conditioned response?  If your example reflects Operant Conditioning, what are the identified reinforcers or punishers that shaped your behavior?  If the example is one of social learning, what influenced you to act or not act in a particular way?  (The example you share does not need to be something personal – learning can occur in a variety of circumstances – so you can be selective about what you choose to share.)

3) Post any questions you have or additional reflections in association with the material in Chapter 6.


answer True or False (T or F) for the following statements, using information from your text as a guide.  If you determine the statement to be False, give a brief statement of explanation to support your response (a fully composed sentence).  The statement should be reflective of information provided by the text, rather than your own ideas.  Items marked false that do not contain an explanation will incur -1 pt. deduction per statement.(please follow the direction carefully

Chapter 10

_____1.  When you decide to do something, you make the conscious decision slightly before the relevant activity begins in your brain.

_____ 2.  Most old people do better on memory tests early in the morning than later in the day.

_____3.  Dreaming occurs only during REM sleep.

_____4.  Hypnosis improves the accuracy of people’s memories.

Chapter 11

_____5.  People in all known cultures show priorities that fit Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

_____6.  Most people underestimate how long they will need to complete a major task.

_____ 7.  Overweight people are more than twice as likely as other people to be seriously depressed.

Chapter 12

_____8.  Nearly all psychological researchers agree that people have six basic emotions.

_____9.  One of the main problems facing the developers of emotional intelligence tests is determining what the correct answers are.

_____10.  Brief, mild stress improves memory and enhances activity of the immune system.

_____11.  Most people who experience extremely traumatic events do not develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Chapter 13

_____12.  One of the main predictors of violent behavior is mental illness.

_____13.  When you try to explain someone else’s behavior, you are more likely to explain it in terms of personality than when you are explaining your own behavior.

_____14.  Asch’s research showed that most people conform to the majority’s opinion, even when they know the majority is wrong.

Chapter 14

_____  15.  Freud based his theories on careful studies of personality development during childhood and adolescence.

_____ 16.  Humanistic psychologists try to analyze people’s behavior in terms of genetics and hidden, unconscious forces.​

_____ 17.  Psychologists derived the Big Five model of personality from an analysis of the English language.

Chapter 15

​_____18.  A gene has been identified that is responsible for more than one-fourth of cases of major depression

_____ 19.  Hallucinating a voice saying frightening messages is an example of a “positive symptom” of schizophrenia.

_____ 20.  Most types of psychotherapy are about equally effective for improving a client’s quality of life.

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