There are many theories that surround the field of psychology that help us better understand the world around us. Biomedical therapy, bias’s, bystander effect…the list goes on. However, there are many “beliefs” that surround the idea of behaviorism as well as cognitive learning styles. For some reason, everybody thinks that it HAS to be one or the other, just like the concept of “nature vs nurture”. Personally, I believe that it shouldn’t have to be one or the other, rather that they work together to build our knowledge and understanding of what’s going on around us.
When it comes to understanding learning from a behavioral standpoint, it isn’t as complex as it sounds. Behavioral learning can be broken down into a few sub-categories, in which I will breakdown the following: Contiguity, classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and positive and negative reinforcement. The first term I will elaborate on is the idea of contiguity. In essence, it is the idea of association. “Whenever two or more sensations occur together often enough, they will become associated” (Woolfolk, 2013). As far as classical conditioning goes, this is defined as “learning of involuntary emotional or physiological responses such as fear, increased muscle tension, salivation, or sweating” (Woolfolk, 2013). Coined by famous psychologist Pavlov, he conducted this famous experiment using his dog, food, and a tuning fork. To put it into simple terms, his dog would begin salivating whenever they saw the food. What he ended up doing was using the concept of contiguity. Pavlov would ring the tuning fork everyday before feeding his dog, and when the dog saw the food, it would salivate. However, over time, all Pavlov needed to do was ring the bell in order to have the dog salivate, even without providing the food. This is how classical conditioning works. The process of turning a neutral stimulus (the tuning fork) into a conditioned stimulus to produce a conditioned response. The ideas of positive and negative reinforcement are sub categories of operant conditioning. In my own terms, reinforcement is something that will increase the likelihood of a behavior to happen, where as punishment is gong to decrease the likelihood of something happening. Positive means to add something or to give, and negative is to take away. If you take these simple ideas and put them together, you will understand the differences between the four.
Social cognitive theory is defined as “[our] beliefs, self-perceptions, and expectations to social learning” (Woolfolk, 2013). Social learning can be defined as learning through observation. Albert Bandura, famous for the “Bobo Doll” experiment, concluded that children would behave violently if they had observed an adult model behave violently. Basically, this theory is the whole “monkey see, monkey do” sort of thing.
As far as limitations go, I would like to talk about the downsides of behavioral learning. For classical conditioning, most of the learning that takes place isn’t going to be long term. Also, the things you will learn aren’t exactly useful (in my opinion) in an educational setting. I do, however, believe in the ideas of positive and negative reinforcement/punishment. In my O+P class, I have seen a pretty amazing example of this. Although I’m not sure how she did it, she has conditioned her class (after lunch and walking back to class) to stop at certain points along the way to wait for her to catch up. The students do this every day, and do not deviate from this. The students must have been conditioned in some way, most likely through negative punishment, or positive punishment. If I had to guess, she most likely took away one of their “good behavior card colors” if they had walked too far before she allowed them to go. That or she would reward them when they stayed, by giving them candy or something. If that were the case, it would be positive reinforcement.
Whether or not I believe in one more than the other isn’t really the point of this reflection, in my personal opinion. However, as far as my future career is concerned, I would have to say the most reliable theory for me would be the social cognitive theory of role modeling. Since I will be a physical education teacher, I will be doing a lot of demonstrations in hopes that I can help the kids who don’t fully understand how to do things like a correct serve in table tennis, or throwing a frisbee, things in that nature. Tying in with that, I think applied behavioral analysis (B.F. Skinner, conditioning theories, etc) goes hand in hand with that of being a physical educator. Discipline is a REQUIREMENT in a phy ed class. That is where students blow off steam, let out their energy, and do not wish to be controlled. I want my students to have that sort of release during the day, but they need to also respect my authority as well, and do as I say. I will reward good behavior, as well as discipline bad behavior, which is basically what operant conditioning is.
As I go back to my earlier statement, it is not about one or the other…it’s about using them both together, and deciding when it is right to apply each method (procedural knowledge….hmm?? Psych has a funny way of connecting with other ideas).
“Bandura And Social Learning Theory”. YouTube. N.p., 2017. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
I selected this video because I believe it does an outstanding job of outlining what I am referring to within my blog post.
“Operant Conditioning – Negative Reinforcement Vs Positive Punishment”. YouTube. N.p., 2017. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
I decided to use another “Big Bang Theory” video, not only because it is hilarious, but also in that it proves to be quite helpful in explaining concepts, thank’s to Sheldon. Within this video, they do an excellent job of not only demonstrating operant conditioning, but they also help clarify the difference between positive punishment, and negative reinforcement. These two, as stated in the video, are often mixed up when explaining them, as well as labeling them to certain situations. I found that this clarification in the video was useful.
Woolfolk, A., & Hoy, A. W. (2013). Educational psychology: Active learning edition (12th ed.). Boston: Pearson.
The textbook does a great job of outlining certain ideas and examples that without it would have mad this blog a lot more challenging. That along with my AP psych notebook, I was able to have a deeper understanding of some of these terms, which helps when it comes to explaining it to other people. Things like explaining operant and classical conditioning, social cognitive theory definition, popular household psychologist names, etc.