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Written Assignment # 4- Chapter 6- Learning
Active Learning: Review of Classical and Operant Conditioning
Visualizing Psychology- Handout 6.9

  1. Decide if the situation is an example of classical or operant conditioning.


  1. If you decide the situation is an example of classical conditioning, you need to label the UCS, UCR, NS, CS, and CR.

III. If you decide the situation is an example of operant conditioning, you need to
Identify whether it is an example of positive or negative reinforcement or positive or negative punishment.
When another strokes her infant’s skin, the stroking creates pleasure responses in the
baby. After this goes on for many days, the baby begins to show pleasure responses simply at the sight of the mother (before even being touched).

  1. The baby’s pleasure response is an example of classical conditioning.
  2. If you chose classical, follow part II of the instructions; if you chose operant, follow part III.

The woman stroking her infant’s skin for the first time is the unconditioned stimulus (UCS). UCS is the stimulus responsible for producing behavior that has not yet been learned (McSweeney 25). In this case, the initial pleasure responses are UCR. Stroking of the infant’s skin is the NS which is associated with the mother (UCS) and it eventually becomes the CS which later produces pleasure responses in the baby even without being touched (CR).
A patient in a mental hospital is very disruptive at mealtimes. She grabs food from the plates of those sitting near her and tries to cram the food into her mouth. Because this behavior of stealing food is very undesirable, a plan is developed whereby every time the patient steals food from other plates she is immediately taken to a room without food.

  1. The mental health staff is attempting to change the behavior of stealing through operant conditioning.
  2. If you chose classical, follow part II of the instructions; if you selected operant, follow part III.

The situation is negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement focuses on removing an unpleasant experience to strengthen a desirable behavior (McSweeney 36). The act of taking the patient to a room with no food every time she steals food will make her refrain from this bad habit as she cannot survive without eating.
Johnny has developed a habit of yelling “Bye, Mom” and then slamming the door very loudly in his hurry to leave for school in the morning. The door slam causes his mother to flinch. After several days of the procedure, Johnny’s mother begins to flinch at the sound of her son’s words, “Bye, Mom.”

  1. The mother’s flinching behavior can be explained through classical conditioning.
  2. If you chose classical, follow part II of the instructions; if you indicated operant, follow part III.

Johnny is the UCS, and Johnny’s mother initial flinch is the UCR. Slamming the door very loudly and yelling the words “Bye, mom” is the NS which later becomes the CS. CR is the way Johnny’s mother starts to flinch at her son’s words, “Bye, mom” even when the door has not been slammed.
Imagine you have a friend who keeps the temperature in her home so high that each occasion on which you visit her you find yourself perspiring. The last time you visited her, you noticed that you began to perspire and became uncomfortable as soon as you saw her house (before you even were inside).

  1. Your perspiring behavior can be explained as classical conditioning.
  2. If you chose classical, follow part II of the instructions; if you selected operant, follow part III.

In this situation, UCS is the house, and initial perspiration is the UCR. The high temperatures are the NR as do not affect you when you have not visited the household. However, when associated with the house, the heat becomes CS which creates the CR of immediate sweat just at the sight of the house even without necessarily being inside.
Mr. and Mrs. Jones are having a heated argument that both are finding very unpleasant. Mrs. Jones gets up and leaves the room, closing the door behind her. This has the effect of terminating the argument. From then on, every time Mr. Jones raises his voice, Mrs. Jones leaves the room.
Mr. Jones stops raising his voice.

  1. Mr. Jones stops raising his voice because of operant conditioning.
  2. If you chose classical, follow part II of the instructions; if you chose operant, follow part III.

The operant conditioning in this situation is positive punishment. Punishments typically weaken or eliminate undesirable behaviors rather than increasing them (McSweeney 41). In this situation, Mr. Jones stops to raise his voice as a result of Mrs. Jones’s punishment of leaving the room each time they argue. The penalty is positive as it makes Mr. Jones stop the bad habit.
Using Classical Conditioning, identify the UCS, UCR, NS, CS, and CR in question #6.

  1. Your job is very stressful. You are expected to get a large amount of work done within a very short period and mistakes are not tolerated.  As a result, you have grown to dislike your job and often leave at the end of the day feeling sick from all the stress.  Over the last few weeks, you begin to notice that every time you just get dressed for work you feel nauseated.

UCS: The job
UCR: Disliking the job
NS: The large amount of work
CS: The stressful toil
CR: Feeling nauseated

  1. How might you be able to extinguish this Classical Condition response?

One would need to develop a positive attitude towards work. If they liked the work they do, regardless of whether it is tiresome will prevent them from hating it and will not feel stressed or sick. Eventually, due to the motivation, the person will not feel nauseated if they dress for work.

  1. Identify the reinforcement schedule illustrated in the following examples. Use the codes provided below.

FR- Fixed Ratio
VR- Variable Ratio
FI- Fixed Interval
VI- Variable Interval

  1. Buying lottery tickets in hopes of winning. VR
  2. Getting a paycheck every other week. FI
  3. Being randomly tested for drug use.             VI
  4. A factory worker gets paid on piece work. FR
  5. Which schedule of reinforcement is more difficult to extinguish, variable or fixed? Explain your response.

Fixed reinforcement is hard to extinguish. This is because one responds when they are sure that if they behaveproperly, they will be rewarded. With such expectations, it is hard to erase the reinforcement.
Works Cited
McSweeney, Frances K., and Eric S. Murphy, eds. The Wiley Blackwell handbook of operant and classical conditioning. John Wiley & Sons (2014): 22-45.