Essay Questions for Human Learning and Memory
Chapter 1: Some Basic Assumptions
1. What is neural determinism? What evidence supports it?
2. Discuss the arguments for and against determinism, citing evidence wherever possible.
3. What is introspection, and why did psychologists abandon it as a method for understanding people’s behavior?
4. Discuss the arguments for and against the use of animals in psychological research, citing evidence wherever possible.
Chapter 2: Classical Conditioning
1. How did Pavlov account for extinction? What evidence supports his acount?
2. Suppose you participated in an experiment in which you occasionally received a tone followed by a puff of ...view middle of the document...
That is, don’t just present an equation and some numbers: At each point, explain why particular numbers have been used. The values to be used for c and Vmax will be provided at the time of the exam.
4. What are the three main criteria used in evaluating scientific theories? According to these criteria, how successful has the Rescorla-Wagner model been as a theory of conditioning?
5. What is learned during classical conditioning? Specifically, what were Pavlov’s and Tolman’s views? How does the two-systems hypothesis integrate these views, and what evidence supports it?
6. What is causal learning? To what extent does it involve the same processes as those found in classical conditioning?
Chapter 4: Reinforcement
1. The human capacity for language means that reinforcement can be effective even when there is a long delay between the occurrence of a response and the delivery of the reinforcer. Nevertheless, the text argues that it can still be important to present rewards as soon as possible: Discuss the relevant evidence.
2. On the surface, the concept of motivation is simple: The more we want a reinforcer, the harder we will work to obtain it. How has research on contrast effects and the Yerkes-Dodson law complicated this picture?
3. Thorndike, in the Law of Effect, proposed that the presentation of a reinforcer would strengthen the association between the response that had been made and the stimuli that were present. What has subsequent research taught us about which of the stimuli that are present will come to control the response?
Chapter 5: Reinforcement Applications
1. One objection to the use of reinforcement is that it can undermine intrinsic motivation. What is intrinsic motivation? What does research tell us about the likelihood of rewards undermining it? In practical terms, what is the best way to minimize this possibility?
2. What is the principle of minimal force? What evidence on the effects of reinforcement suggests the need for such a principle?
3. Traditional explanations of behaviors such as dieting attributed success to will-power. Why have some psychologists rejected this interpretation? How does Skinner’s concept of self-control provide an alternative account? How does the study by Drabman, Spitalnik and O’Leary (1973) offer a possible model for the development of self-control?
Chapter 6: Punishment
1. How do the effects of punishment on humans compare to the effects on animals? Citing relevant research, discuss in what respects they are the same and in what respects they are different.
2. Research has suggested that punishment can have undesirable side effects; discuss this research.
3. Should parents use punishment to suppress children’s undesirable behavior? In your answer, cite relevant research wherever possible.
Chapter 7: Theories of Reinforcement
1. The clash between S-R and cognitive theories of reinforcement illustrates several important principles about the nature of...