Please read: Discovering Psychology, Sixth Edition with DSM5 Update by Hockenbury Chapter 5&6!

1.The textbook and the article “Recovered memories” (by Elizabeth Loftus and Deborah Davis) discuss one of hottest debates in psychology: the repressed memory debate. On the one hand, some clinical psychologists believe that clients can repress real memories of trauma and uncover them in therapy. On the other hand, research psychologists (most notably Elizabeth Loftus who used to be at the UW) reject the concept of repression; they argue that false memories may actually be planted by therapists asking suggestive questions. 

Read the article and chapter, and tell us what you think about this debate. Is psychologically caused amnesia possible? Could therapists lead clients to believe something happened even if it didn’t? On the other hand, are research psychologists causing damage to adult survivors of abuse by casting doubts on their credibility?

2.Besides classical conditioning, in which we learn through association, we also learn by operant conditioning, described by B.F. Skinner. With operant conditioning, we learn from the consequences of our behavior. Operant conditioning involves our voluntary actions, and how likely we are to repeat a behavior depending on the consequences. There are four main ways that behavior gets changed: 

Positive Reinforcement: Behavior is strengthened to get a reward. For example, you might work overtime (behavior) to get a bonus check (consequence). The bonus check is a consequence of adding something positive that makes you more likely to repeat this behavior (working overtime) in the future. However, this doesn’t have to be positive behavior. If a child throws a tantrum and then gets what she wants, she has been positively reinforced (likely to throw a tantrum again). 

Negative Reinforcement: Behavior is strengthened to avoid or minimize something negative from happening. You pay your taxes to avoid a fine, put on your seatbelt to avoid an injury, take a Tylenol to get rid of a headache, etc. The motivation is to minimize a negative consequence. When a negative consequence gets removed or minimized (you don’t get a fine, your headache is gone), you are more likely to repeat the behavior (pay your taxes, take Tylenol) in the future. 

Some people study to get A’s (positive reinforcement), while other people study to avoid F’s (negative reinforcement). In both cases, study behavior is strengthened, so both are types of reinforcement. 

Punishment: Behavior is weakened because of a negative consequence.

Punishment by application (positive punishment) involves adding something negative in order to decrease a behavior. An example is speeding and getting a speeding ticket: something bad (speeding ticket) is added, and the behavior (speeding) is likely to not be repeated in the future. 

Punishment by removal (negative punishment) involves the removal of something good in order to decrease behavior. Examples are putting coins in a vending machine (behavior) and not getting a snack (consequence: losing something good), or buying a stock and losing your money. 
The behavior that’s weakened could be good or bad. If you ask for a hug and get turned down, you’re less likely to ask again; that’s punishment. 

To recap, reinforcement strengthens the likelihood that we’ll repeat the behavior, and punishment weakens that likelihood. 

Teachers often use reinforcement techniques in their classrooms, sometimes called behavior modification. As you know, there are two kinds of reinforcers: positive (getting a reward) and negative (avoiding or reducing something unpleasant). In both cases, the behavior is strengthened, so it’s reinforced. Punishment involves a consequence that weakens a behavior. 

Comment on one or both of these questions:

a) Thinking back to your elementary school years, what kinds of positive reinforcement did your teachers use? How about negative reinforcement? What about punishment? Did these work? Or you can tell us about the types of reinforcement or punishment you use with children in your life, or your parents/caregivers used with you. Be sure to label the strategy and explain why it fits positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, or punishment by application or removal.

b) Operant conditioning is a standard tool for training pets and other animals. Have you housetrained a pet or taught a pet to do tricks? Have you tried to modify an animal’s behavior? You may not have known it was operant conditioning, but most likely you were using positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and punishment techniques. What did you do, and can you label it as reinforcement or punishment?

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