Conditioning to do, think, and feel

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Most people probably realize that animals and even humans can be conditioned to do things using positive and negative reinforcement. This idea of learning from implied benefits can be classified as operant conditioning. Another type of conditioning is classical conditioning. In this case, people or animals are repeatedly given two specific things together, causing them to subconsciously relate those two things whether they are similar or not. When one of the two items is presented, the person will automatically respond as if both items were present. This is different from operant conditioning, where the response is voluntary. There are also biological influences on learning such as taste aversions and phobias. Many learning fads exist as well, but whether they work or not is a hard question to answer. All individuals tend to have their own way of learning, thus making it difficult to pinpoint any one way of learning to be the best.


One thing I found interesting about this chapter was the results of a study about heroine addiction. It found that of a group of 451 people who became addicted to heroine while in Vietnam, 86% of them overcame the addiction shortly after returning to America. That leaves only 14% that remained addicted. I find this study hard to believe considering that heroine is not only a physical, but also a medical addiction. However, I can think of times in my own life when a particular place or occasion has an affect on the way I feel or act. For example, I have experienced times when I have been really upset about something at school and then when I get home it almost seems as if the problem no longer exists. This leads me to believe that I subconsciously associate my bad experiences with the place that I am at when they occur.

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This is a really interesting finding. It makes me think of state dependent memory, like how being under the influence for alcohol for example, your memory is better of something you did while you were drunk previously. If you threw your keys somewhere when you were drunk one night, and the next night you drink again, your might be better at remembering where you put them when you are in the same state of mind. That kind of logic could play into the stressful war environment of vietnam as well, and how they might have been more dependent on it there, but once they came back to america, that level or stress wasn't there to demand that type of relief.

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This page contains a single entry by blomm013 published on January 24, 2012 2:40 AM.

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