Updating Skinner's understanding

Topic: Updating Skinner's Understanding

Posted by: Rachel

Key Terms:

  • Cognitive map: a mental representation of the layout of one's environment. For example, after exploring a maze, rats act as if they have learned a cognitive map of it.
  • latent learning: learning that occurs but is not apparent until there is an incentive to demonstrate it.
  • overjustification effect: the effect of promising a revard for doing what one already likes to do. The person may now see the reward, rather than intrinsic interest, as the motivation for performing the task.
  • intrinsic motivation: a desire to perform a behavior for its own sake and to be effective.
  • extrinsic motivation: a desire to perform a behavior due to promised rewards or threats of punishment.
Summary: Evidence of cognitive processes came from studying rats in mazes. Rats without a reward are not motivated. However, they create a cognitive map, which is a representation mentally of the maze, and they perform just as well as those who don't have a reward or punishment. The rats experience latent learning which is the 'learning that becomes apparent only when there is some motivation to show action.'

The cognitive experiment shows that there is more to learning than connecting a response with a consequence. This experiment proved that learning can occur without reinforcement or punishment. Furthermore, rewards and punishment may backfire, causing an overjustification because an action that is justifiable is 'overjustified. This undermines 'intrinsic motivation' which is the 'desire to perfrom a behavior for its own sake and to be effective,' and 'extrinsic motivation' which is a desire to perform a behavior due to promised rewards or threats of punishment.

A person's interest can survive when a reward is not used to bribe or to control. But rewards liek "the most improved player" award would say that a job was well done and keep the person's interest.

Animals are able to learn quickly and retain it because of biological predispositions. For exampe, a cat's inborn tendency to leap very high and come back down on their feet.

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