Behavior psychology

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Behavior psychology

The 'Law of Effect'In 1898, Edward Lee Thorndike proposed that learning is the result of the application of consequences - people learn by connecting responses to stimuli - which he referred to as 'instrumental conditioning'. (Huit, & Hummel, 1997). To test this, he implemented the "Cats in a Puzzle Box" experiment. It demonstrated that a behaviour followed by a pleasant consequence will likely be repeated. This is known as the 'Law of Effect' (Terry, 2009). However, this idea was critized when Thorndike additionally proposed that pleasure and dissatisfaction are the cause for obtaing new information. Further research determined this idea to be untrue, as it is the reinforcer's information value which affects learning (Basavanthappa, 2007).

Behavioral Psychology: Operant Conditioning

Edward L. Thorndike (1874-1949)

"Education is what survives when what has been learned is forgotten."

Example of 'The Law of Effect'

'Operant Learning'Burrhus Frederic Skinner agreed with Thorndike's law, yet wanted to determine how behaviors were affected by the environment -- which he referred to as 'operant conditioning' (Staddon & Cerutti, 2002). Using a device called 'The Skinner Box', he determined operant responses can be increased or decreased by rewarding withholding, or punishing accordingly (Terry, 2009). Yet Skinner's research was only conducted with animals, causing for speculation regarding specific behavior patterns of various species and genetic predispositions. Additionally, it ignores the fundamentals of cognitive processing that learning may occur with reinforcements (Petrovic, 2013).

References (Scroll down to see entire list)Amruta Prabhu. (2010, September 13). Positive reinforcement final. [Video file]. Retrieved from:, B. T. (2007). Psychiatric mental health nursing. New Delhi, India: Hapypee Brothers Medical Publishers.Extra Credits. (2012, March 13). Extra credits: The skinner box. [Video file]. Retrived from: Psychologists. (2014). [Photograph of Edward Thorndike], [Photograph of B. F. Skinner]. Retrieved from: http://www.famouspsychologists.orgHuitt, W. & Hummel, J. (1997). An introuction to operant (instrumental conditioning. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State UniversityPetrovic, J. (2013). Learning theories: Operant conditioning. Zagreb, Croatia: Zagreb University. (Web). Staddon, J. E. R. & Cerutti, D. T. (2002). Operant conditioning. Annual Review of Psychology. 54, 115-144Terry, W. S. (2009). Lerning & memory: Basic principles, processes, and prcedures. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Example of 'The Skinner Box' and 'Operant Conditioning'

Burrhus Frederic Skinner (1904-1990)


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