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1 B.F. Skinner believed, first, that a science of behaviour should be based only on results obtained using the conditioning chamber he developed to study operant conditioning (that most other researchers called the ‘Skinner box’) and, second, that Pavlovian conditioning was of relatively little interest because it applied only to responses by the autonomic system.
i. What important discoveries in the learned behaviour of animals were indeed obtained from research using Skinner boxes?
ii. What important discoveries in the learned behaviour of animals were made using other kinds of methods?
iii. What important results showed that Skinner was wrong about Pavlovian conditioning?
2. The Rescorla-Wagner model provides a very parsimonious yet powerful explanation of many aspects of simple associative learning.
i. How does the model describe the learning that occurs during extinction?
ii. What does it say about the nature of extinction after partial reinforcement versus continuous reinforcement?
iii. Describe another phenomenon related to the extinction of responding that the model does not predict and discuss what this means for the model’s treatment of extinction.
iv. Describe a novel prediction that the model made about extinction that has been shown to be correct.
3. Justin walks his dog, Ava, twice a day. She jumps up on him excitedly whenever she sees him pick up her lead before he takes her for a walk.
i. Describe how you could test whether Ava’s behaviour has been acquired through Pavlovian conditioning or instrumental conditioning.
ii. One evening, Justin goes to walk Ava without knowing that his daughter just brought Ava back from a long walk 5 min earlier. Justin is surprised because, on this occasion, Ava doesn’t react by jumping up when he picks up her lead. What might this tell us about whether Ava’s behaviour is based on S-R (stimulus-response) or S-S (stimulus-stimulus) learning? Explain your answer.
iii. If, after he had been walking Ava on lead for several weeks, Justin also started attaching a light to her collar before each walk, would Ava also acquire the same excited response when she saw Justin pick up the light? Explain your answer.
iv. If Justin had only used the lead to walk Ava on one of their daily outings (and had walked her without a lead on the other outing each day), how would this affect her reactions to the lead? Explain why you think this would happen.