Keller S Case

Topics: Reinforcement, Classical conditioning, Operant conditioning Pages: 3 (875 words) Published: April 14, 2015
Dr. Virginia Noy

Hellen Keller’s CASE
Theories of Personality

Andrea Sambuccetti

Her process of learning was operant conditioning. To learn, Helen Keller was exposed to an stimuli, an object in one hand, and at the same time, to a finger-spelling in the other hand that later she was guided to imitate. At first, she did not found an association between the object in one hand and the meaning that was spelled in her other hand. But one day, the experience was repeated and she started to found a connection between the stimuli and the finger-spelling. That day, Helen found the “meaning”. Each time Keller finished spelling a name correctly, her teacher, Anne Sullivan, gave her a small bit of cake, as a reward. If the girl made a mistake, she got no cake. Soon, Keller stopped making responses that were not reinforced and continued making responses that were. The parallel between Sullivan’s procedure and Skinner’s procedure is clear. According to Skinner, “If you want to strengthen a certain response or behavior pattern, reward it!”.

The discrimination accomplished with Helen Keller was that she finally could distinguish between a conditioned stimulus (the correct finger-spelling in her hand related to the object which was presented in her other hand) and other, similar stimuli that don’t signal the unconditioned stimulus (other finger-spelling relative to other object). The same as Pavlov’s dog achieved: salivated to the right tone that had been paired with the delivery of food, and not with other tone.

Classical Conditioning
Helen Keller’s water incident
Feeling of a substance in his hand
Association between “feeling of a sustance”, “finger-spelling” and then, a “new word”: “w-a-t-e-r”.

Given an irrational fear of a harmless bug, and considering that Helen Keller could not see or hear, I would use a procedure that introduces a...
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