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TAMU PSYC 340 - Psyc 340 Exam 1

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Exam 1 Content - Textbook notes Chapter 1: Background and Rationale for the Study of Learning and Behavior - Historical Antecedents ● Before Descartes, the prevailing view was that human behavior is entirely determined by conscious intent and free will.. ● Descartes recognized that people do many things automatically in response to external stimuli. He formulated a dualistic view of human behavior known as Cartesian dualism. ○ According to Cartesian dualism, there are two classes of human behavior: involuntary (reflexive) and voluntary. Involuntary behavior consists of automatic reactions to external stimuli and is mediated by a special mechanism called a reflex. Voluntary behavior, does not have to be triggered by external stimuli and occurs because of the person’s conscious intent to act in that particular manner ● Descartes thought the mind was connected to the brain by way of the pineal gland. ● Believed the mind contained ideas that were inat and existed in all human beings. ○ Ex. he believed all humans were born with the concept of god, and the concept of self. ● Involuntary (reflexive) ○ Stimuli in the environment are detected by the person’s sense organs. The sensory information is then relayed to the brain through nerves. From the brain, the impetus for action is sent through nerves to the muscles that create the involuntary response. Thus, sensory input is reflected in the response output. Hence, Descartes called involuntary behavior reflexive. ○ Stimuli in the external environment are assumed to be the cause of all involuntary behavior. These stimuli produce involuntary responses by way of a neural circuit that includes the brain. However, Descartes assumed that only one set of nerves was involved. According to Descartes, the same nerves transmitted information from the sense organs to the brain and from the brain down to the muscles. This circuit, he believed, permitted rapid reactions to external stimuli—for example, quick withdrawal of one’s finger from a hot stove ○ Descartes assumed that the involuntary mechanism of behavior was the only one available to animals other than humans. According to this view, all nonhuman animal behavior occurs as reflexive behavior to external stimuli. Thus, Descartes believed that nonhuman animals lacked free will and were incapable of voluntary, conscious action. He considered free will and voluntary behavior to be uniquely human attributes. These unique humanfeatures existed because only human beings were thought to have a mind or a soul ○ The mind–body dualism introduced by Descartes stimulated two intellectual tradi tions, mentalism and reflexology. Mentalism was concerned with the contents and workings of the mind. In contrast, reflexology was concerned with the mechanisms of reflexive behavior. ● Historical developments in the Study of the Mind ○ Nativism - The philosophical approach that assumes we are born with innate ideas about certain things ○ John Locke ■ proposed that all of the ideas people had were acquired directly or indirectly through experiences after birth. He believed that human beings were born without any preconceptions about the world. According to Locke, the mind started out as a clean slate to be gradually filled with ideas and information as the person encountered various sense experiences. This philosophical approach to the contents of the mind is called empiricism. ○ Thomas Hobbes ■ believed that the mind operated just as predictably and lawfully as a reflex. He proposed that voluntary behavior was governed by the principle of hedonism. According to this principle, people do things in the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. ○ British empiricists ■ concept of association ● proposed that simple sensations were combined into more complex ideas by associations. Ex. Because you have heard the word car when you saw a car, considered using one to get to work, or sat in one, connections or associations became established between the word car and these other attributes of cars. ○ Consider associations to be the building blocks of mental activity. ■ Rules of associations ● Primary ○ 1. Contiguity (most prominent in studies of associations) ■ It states that if two events repeatedly occur together in space or time, they will become linked or associated. ■ For example, if you encounter the smell of tomato sauce with spaghetti often enough, your memory of spaghetti will be activated by just the smell of tomato sauce ○ 2. Similarity■ Similarity as a basis for the formations of associations has been confirmed by modern studies of learning. ○ 3. Contrast ■ No contemporary evidence that contract facilitates the formation of an association b/w them. ○ The similarity and contrast principles state that two things will become associated if they are similar in some respect (e.g., both are red) or have some contrasting characteristics (e.g., one might be strikingly tall and the other strikingly short). ● Secondary ○ Thomas Brown proposed the association between two stimuli depends on the intensity of those stimuli and how frequently or recently the stimuli occurred together. In addition, the formation of an association between two events was considered to depend on the number of other associations in which each event was already involved and the similarity of these past associations to the current one being formed. ○ Hermann Ebbinghaus ■ Invented nonsense syllables, three-letter combinations (e.g., “bap”) devoid of any meaning that might influence how someone might react to them. ■ Used himself as the experimental subject, he studied lists of nonsense syllables and measured his ability to remember them under various experimental conditions. This general method enabled him to answer such questions as how the strength of an association improved with increased training, whether nonsense syllables that were close together in a list were associated more strongly with one another than syllables that were farther apart, and whether a syllable became more strongly associated with the next one on the list (a forward association) rather than with the preceding one (a backward association) ● Historical developments in the study of reflexes ○ Charles Bell & Francois Magendie ■ showed that separate nerves are involved in the transmission of sensory information from sense organs to the


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