Abnormal Psychology Essay

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Jacquelyn Sniff
28 April 2010
Exam 3 essay

I. Stimulus control is the process where a stimulus increases the probability of a behavior by reinforcing the desired behavior in the presence of the stimulus. Throughout chapters eight and nine in “Learning and Behavior”, examples of Stimulus Control, and how one learns to Generalize and Discriminate in the real world are provided. Topics such as verbal behavior, self, animal training, and TV and violence are discussed. “The traditional view of language is that words are vehicles for moving ideas from one head to another”. However, the alternate view given is expressed in a book written by Skinner called “Verbal Behavior”. Skinner states that in order to understand the nature of the spoken and written word, one must first recognize that they are forms of behavior. He goes on to say if one wants to understand verbal behavior, one must understand the effects of verbal behavior on the social environment.

Examples are given regarding infants and the process of their development of language. Statements are made describing how parents often naturally reinforce infants for making sounds, and continue to do so until an infant is grown and speaks full sentences. Also, Herbert Quay, experimented to find that the tendency of psychotherapy patients to talk of family relationships, most likely has more to do with the reinforcing reactions they receive from their therapist, than the unique importance of their experiences (265-268). Other real world Stimulus Control examples such as self-injurious behavior and self-control are discussed in chapter eight. In self-injurious behavior, Ivar Lovass, finds that providing harmless (yet not painless), shocks to a child who hits himself 300 times over the course of ten minutes, ends his long-standing self-injurious behavior. Other therapists, who do not like the idea of using physical punishment to change a child’s behavior, develop alternative...
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