Journal Assignment # 1
For this assignment, we originally chose a comprehensive experiment that implemented operant conditioning, but due to unsuccessful attempts and time restraints, we decided to change to a much simpler Classical Conditioning. The following writeup is on both experiments:
Experiment #1: Conditioning a teacher
In the experiment, we were attempting to modify a teacher’s movements and orientation relative to the students. The behavior was the orientation of the teacher. The consequence for a certain orientation was the full attention of the students (which was presumably satisfying for the teacher). Any other orientation would be followed by divided attention and talking by the students. The primary reinforcer was the content feeling that they were making a difference in their student’s lives induced in the teacher when the students were attentive. Although it is hard to assign a reinforcement schedule to this experiment due to its simplicity, it may be considered a fixed ratio schedule with a specific one to one ratio (every desired behavior is rewarded). The subjects did not fully acquire the behavior, and due to a lack of planning, we were unable to compare the change in behavior to any control. Our primary challenge was the lack of time to conduct the experiment. In order for such an experiment to successfully, one must repeat the same reinforcement many times for many days. We were also unable to control the attention of the students. This learned behavior is potentially beneficial to the students because more teacher involvement may enhance their ability to learn. We tried on two subjects, but multiple times on one teacher. It is likely that the success of the experiment is not dependent on the teacher, but the time given for operant behavior to settle in.
Joe: Operant conditioning has impacted me when I was having difficulty waking up in the morning. My parents would pester me when I didn’t wake up on time and I would also receive a tardy at school. When woken up on time, I would be rewarded with praise. This is still a work in progress...
Hannah: Operant conditioning influences my life regularly, on a day-to-day basis. At school, I pay attention, take notes in class and spend several hours a night on homework for the reward of a good grade. Though grades have never been pushed by my parents, I devote my time for my own sake which earns me not only praise and self-assurance, but a greater likelihood of being accepted to college. At home, operant conditioning occurs in the context of housework; my mother is much more likely to drive me places over the weekend and is increasingly cheerful if my room is clean and I do the dishes, laundry, and vacuum. If my room is a mess and I haven't done any chores over the weekend, her attitude towards me is typically more bitter and she does not consent to doing nearly as many favors.
Experiment #2: Conditioning a project partner
The behavior we were attempting to modify was this person’s response to a whistled tone. The Unconditioned Stimulus was blowing air into the person’s face; Unconditioned Response was the person shaking their head to rid them self of this annoyance; the conditioned stimulus was the whistled tone; the conditioned response was once again the shaking of their head. After around fifteen trials spread over the course of a week the conditioned response was tested without association with the unconditioned stimulus and the subject exhibited the conditioned response. The primary challenge was whistle failure, as the tester’s whistle would occasionally misfire producing an indiscernible sound. Depending on the nefariousness of the experimenter, the change in behavior may be considered beneficial. The experiment could not be tested on multiple subjects because of the eccentricity of the UCS-UCR relationship. If we were to, it is nearly certain that the experiment would yield the same result because it is a very straightforward invariant experiment.
Joe: I can not think of a time when I was classically conditioned. However, I have classically conditioned someone.
Hannah: Not only was I conditioned by my partner while conducting this experiment, but I have also experienced classical conditioning in my every day life. When I was younger, my parents fed me dried fruit directly after returning home from a long car ride, during which I had become nauseous. Upon its consumption, I immediately became sick, and to this day I cannot eat dried fruit or anything containing it without experiencing similar uneasiness.
Joe Puccio and Hannah Nayowith
September 16, 2010
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Hannah’s thoughts that I didn’t want to delete:
As the teacher turned toward the board, the students would begin talking and shuffling about in the room. They would not give their full attention while she was facing the board, but when she turned and faced the class, there would be immediate silence. There would be a positive reinforcement when she faced the class because she was able to receive full attention from the students. The students talking when she was writing on the board incorporated positive punishment because she was receiving both punishment and reinforcement depending on her position. However, this experiment was unsuccessful because it was not sufficiently reinforced. In order for the behavior to be learned and remembered, multiple classes would need to participate in the experiment so that it could be repeated more frequently throughout the day. It would also
need to be repeated in more frequent intervals in order for it to be learned.