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Learning process in behaviour Essay

Learning is a permanent change in behaviour caused by experience. The learner does not need to have the experience directly; we can also learn by observing others .

It is an ongoing process. Our knowledge of the world is continually being revised as we are exposed to new stimuli and receiving ongoing feedback that allows us to modify our behaviour when we find ourselves in a similar position again

Psychologists who have studied learning have developed advanced therories on the process of learning. Here we will discuss the two major approaches to learning; instrumental and classical conditioning.

Classical Conditioning

It occurs when a stimulus that elicits a response is paired with another stimulus that initially does not elicit a response on its own.

A Russian physiologist , Pavlov introduced classically conditioned learning by pairing a neutral stimulus ( a bell ) with a stimulus known to cause a salivation to dogs ( he squirted dry meat powder). The powder was an unconditioned stimulus because it was capable of causing the response. Over time, the dog has learned to associate the bell with its meat powder and begin to salivate at the sound of the bell only. The drooling of these canine consumers because of a sound now has a linked to feeding time, was a conditioned response ( CR ).

This basic of classical conditioning applies to responses controlled by the autonomic and nervous systems. When these cues are consistently paired with a conditioned stimuli such as brand names, we as consumers may feel hungry, thirsty or aroused when later exposed to brand cues.

Conditioning effects are more likely to occur after the (CS) conditioned and unconditioned ( UCS ) stimuli have been paired a number of times. Repeated exposures increases the strength of stimulus-response associations and prevent the decay of these associations in memory.

Many marketing strategies focus on the establishment of associations between stimuli and responses. Behavioural learning principal applies to many consumer phenomena, ranging from the creation of a distinctive brand image to the perceived linkage between a product and an underlying need. The transfer of meaning from an unconditioned stiulus to a conditioned stimulus explains why made-up brands like Marlboro, Coca-Cola or IBM can exert such powerful effects on consumers.

Operant conditioning

Over the years behaviourist have carried out operant principals out of the narrow world of the skinner box and into the wider room of society. The use of the operant techniques to help people change unwanted, dangerous, or self-defeating habits in real world settings is called behaviour modification ( applied behaviour analysis )

Behaviour modification has had enormous success, behaviorist have taught parents to toilet train their children in only a few sessions etc. as you can see from everyday world behaviour modificaton is not a science but an art.

Operant Conditioning : process of applying the law of effect to control behaviour by manipulating its consequences.

Law of effect: behaviour followed by pleasant consequences is likely to be repeated; behaviour followed by unpleasant consequences is not

4 basic reinforcement strategies is use in operant conditioning;

– positive reinforcement

-negative reinforcement



Positive reinforcement : the process by which people learn to perform acts leading to such desirable outcomes. Whatever behaviour led to the positive outcome is likely to occur again, thereby strengthening that behaviour by making a pleasant consequences contingent onto its occurrence.

Negative reinforcement: Negative reinforcement is the process by which people learn to perform acts that lead to removal of undesired events or unpleasant consequence contingent onto its occurrence.

Punishment: administrating of negative consequences or withdrawal of positive consequences that tend to reduce the likelihood of repeating the behaviour in similar settings

Extinction: ceasation of previously established reinforcer that is maintaining a behaviour by removal of a pleasant consequence of its occurrence.

Positive reinforcement can take many forms. One of the strongest is praise and recognition for the good work. It is good rewards management. It shifts the emphasis and energy of the manger towards a larger number of employees, rather than focus all the attention and time on poorer employees. If done correctly it can make all but the worst employees feel that the organization recognizes and appreciates their effort and contributions. If the desired behaviour is specific in nature and is difficult to achieve , a pattern if positive reinforcement called shaping can be used. Shaping is the creation of a new behaviour by the positive reinforcement of successive approximations leading to the desired behaviour.

Negative reinforcement governs a good deal of our behaviour. Some people do think that it is a reasonable way to manage people at work that is, employees who engage in undesirable behaviour should expect something to happen to them. But there are some difficulties with this approach. First it creates a tens environment ( difficult to work everyday where the main motivation is to prevent unpleasant outcomes ) secondly, relationships often deteriorates when superiors represent a constant threat to be avoided.

There can be adverse side effects in using punishment.

– An action intended to punish may instead be reinforcing because it brings attention

-the recepient of punishment often responds with anxiety ,fear or rage

-the effectiveness of punishment is often temporay, depending heavily on the presense of the punishing person or circumstances

-most misbehaviours is hard to punish immediately thus resutingin the reinforcement of the undesired behaviour

-punishment conveys little info

Extinction is important and quite commonly used. This strategy decreases the frequency of or weakens the behaviour . The behaviour is not “unlearned”; it simply is not exhibited. Since the behaviour is no longer reinforced, it will reappear when it is reinforced again. Whereas positive reinforcement seeks to establish and maintain desirable work behaviour, extinction on the other hand is intended to weaken and eliminate the undesirable behaviour

Law of contingent reinforcement states for reward to have the maximum reinforcing value ; it must be delivered only if the desired behaviour is exhibited . Secondly, the law of immediate reinforcement states , the more immediate the delivery of a reward after the occurence of a desirable behaviour, the greater the reinforcing value of the reward.

Timing of postiove reinforcement;

a) the continuous reiforcemnt schedule administers a reqrd each tie a desired behaviour occurs

b) b) an intermittent or patila reinforcement schedule rewars a behaviour only periodically.

– 4 varieties of partial reinforcement schedule

– a) Fixed interval schedules

b)Variable interval schedules

c)Fixed ratio schedules

c) Variable ratio schedules

In general , a mange can expect that the continuous reinforcement will draw a desired behaviour more quickly than will intermittent reinforcement

Steps in positive reinforcement program;

@identify specific behaviour that are to be changed; must be accurate and reliably observed and then recorded. Behaviour should be measurable and observable.

@ determine the links between the target behaviour, its consequences and stimulus condition leading to the beaviour)

@develop and set specific behaviour goals for each person and target behaviours

@recording process toward the goal

@apply appropriate consequences; rewards, punsihmnets,extinction

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