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Lesson 3
Introduction: Connecting Your Learning
Many different theories provide explanations for your mental states and behaviors. Theories explore the
unconscious mind, the ability to adapt, coping, and safeguarding yourself. You will examine theories that
explore internal drives which motivate humans and anti-mental experiences which affect behaviors and
learning. The types of learning vary from the relatively simple, like conditioning, to the more advanced, like
intuitive or insightful learning.
In Chapters 15 and 17, Freud's theory of the unconscious and its relevance to behavior will be examined.
Chapter 4 discusses classical and operant conditioning and cognitive-observational learning.
How do people learn to act? Is human behavior influenced more by internal or individual traits, or by external or
social forces? Do you decide for yourself how to behave and what traits and beliefs to adopt, or are your
behavior and mental makeup determined more by the groups and cultural values surrounding you? The answer
seems to be that individual and social forces jointly and interactively determine human behavior. Do you agree?
Lectures and Readings
Yale Open Source Video: Freud Lecture
Yale Open Source Video: Skinner Lecture
Chapter 15 – "Personality" (pp. 570-576)
Chapter 17 – "Treatment" (pp. 650-656)
Chapter 4 – "Basic Process of Learning"
Chomsky, N. (1959). A review of B.F. Skinner's verbal
behavior. Language, 35(1), 26-58.
Focusing Your Learning
Course Competencies covered in this lesson:
Explain the psychodynamic theory of personality.
Define the terms and describe the concepts and processes of learning and conditioning.
Lesson Objectives
By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:
1. Describe Freud’s psychodynamic theory of personality.
2. Define behaviorism and the concept of learning.
3. Describe Pavlov’s research on the principles of classical conditioning.
4. Describe the basic elements and principles of operant conditioning.
5. Apply knowledge of classical and operant conditioning to everyday situations.
Approaching the Objectives
Chapter 4 provides the cognitive and the behavioral-learning perspectives in psychology. These two
perspectives are often at odds with each other in explaining various psychological processes; however, you
should realize as you progress through this lesson that both perspectives contain valuable insights regarding
knowledge, including how you acquire it, how you retain and organize it, and how it is used in dealing with the
tasks and challenges of life. In fact, one of the most practical areas of psychology is the behavioral study of
Bloom provides a brief biographical sketch of well-known psychologist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). Freud,
sometimes known as the "father of modern psychology," remains an influential figure in the psychology field as
well as a very controversial one.
Freud developed the first psychodynamic theory of personality. His personality theory stipulates that your
behaviors are governed not by your conscious mind, but your unconscious mind. The unconscious motives,
memories, emotions, and defense mechanisms developed in childhood drive your behavior.
Your personality is comprised of three interacting components or forces: the id, ego, and superego. Your
behaviors are influenced by these interacting unconscious forces. A healthy personality reflects a balance of all
three forces.
Concept Characteristics
The instinctive aspect of your
personality which seeks
immediate gratification and
avoids pain.
Eat, drink,
warmth, and
The referee or mediator
between pleasure and reality.
The ego is the rational aspect of
our personality which seeks to
restrain the Id until it is socially
appropriate to release, or
suppress the Id when it is not
socially appropriate. It is both
conscious and unconscious.
Reason and
good sense.
Seeks out
The internalized morals and
parental authority which judge
the id as wrong or right, it is
partially conscious but mostly
unconscious. The superego
doles out good feelings of
satisfaction as rewards when
you do something well and
horrible feelings as punishment
when you do something deemed
as wrong
Guilt, shame,
pride, and
feelings of
Freud theorizes that behavior is motivated primarily by the unconscious mind. Humans are conscious of only a
small part of their mental states. See the diagram below:
Consider this!
Part 1. In your own words, describe each of the three aspects of personality as theorized by
Freud. Give examples of each.
Part 2. Consider a recent life event. Reflect on the three aspects of your personality as theorized
by Freud and discuss how each aspect influenced your decision or experience.
Freud extended his personality theory into five stages of psychosexual development in children. If the child does
not successfully progress to the next stage, he or she will remain stuck or fixated in the current stage. These
stages are riddled with frustration, conflict, and anxiety.
Below is a list of the stages, definitions, and approximate age ranges for each.
Oral stage – (0-2 years old) the mouth is associated with pleasure. Successful weaning is key.
Anal stage – (2-3 years old) the ability to control bodily waste functions. Toilet training is key.
Phallic stage – (3-5 years old) the male child desires to possess the mother and get rid of the
father, "Oedipus Complex." Males experience castration anxiety once their plot is discovered by
the dad. An opposite phenomena is experienced by females. The female child desires to possess
the father and develops hostility towards the mother and experiences the "Electra Complex." She
realizes she does not have a penis and develops "penis envy." Anxiety resolution is key.
Latency stage – (5-12 years old) sexual desires are repressed in preparation for the genital
Genital stage – (12 years old into adulthood) sexual urges re-emerge and lead into adulthood.
Consider this!
Do you agree with Freud's psychosexual developmental stages in children? Discuss why or why
According to Freud, the defense mechanisms used to navigate the psychosexual stages and reduce anxiety
shape your adult personality. These unconscious defense mechanisms are used by the ego to alleviate anxiety
and keep certain threatening desires, wishes, memories, and other thoughts from entering consciousness.
Bloom and Gray identify eight defense mechanisms.
Sublimation – creatively redirecting aggressive or sexual energy towards a socially suitable purpose.
Example: Art, painting, music, or inventions.
Displacement – redirecting a wish or desire that is not socially acceptable towards an acceptable
alternative. Example: Sucking a lollipop may replace breast feeding when it is no longer socially
acceptable or realistic. Similar to sublimation without serving a higher purpose.
Projection – projecting uncomfortable feelings onto someone else. Example: You might believe
someone is angry with you, when in reality, you may be angry with that person.
Rationalization – providing a socially acceptable explanation for thoughts or behavior not socially
acceptable. Example: Beating a child may be explained as providing discipline in accordance with one's
parental beliefs.
Regression – exhibiting behavior reflecting an earlier stage of development when experiencing a
traumatic or stressful event. Example: A potty-trained child may begin soiling clothes after parents
separate and divorce.
Repression – blocking anxiety-producing thoughts, memories, or emotions from consciousness.
Example: An angry child may not remember being sexually assaulted.
Reaction formation – converting a wish or desire into a safer opposite. Example: Those with a
tendency towards homosexuality may develop homophobia.
Hysteria – a physiological response to keep things from entering into consciousness. Hysteria was
identified as a defense mechanism during Freud's time. Example: Hysterical blindness, which is being
unable to see when no physical abnormalities exist to explain the phenomena. This description was most
often used to categorize the symptoms of women, panic attacks, or amnesia.
Consider this!
On page 572 in your textbook, Karen Horney defines basic anxiety in children as "the feelings a
child has of being isolated and helpless in a potentially hostile world." Define anxiety and cite your
Select three defense mechanisms and explain how they serve to defend against anxiety.
Chapter 4 introduces three main scientists whose research on how humans learn contradicts Freud's theories of
the unconscious. Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) and North American psychologists John B.
Watson (1878-1958) and B.F. (Burrhus Fredric) Skinner (1904-1990) are behaviorists. A behaviorist argues
that experience is the basis for learning and not your unconscious mental states.
Gray defines learning as "any process through which experience at one time can alter an individual's behavior at
a future time." Experience is "any effects of the environment that are mediated by the individual's sensory
systems (vision, hearing, touch, and so on)." Behavior in the future is "any subsequent behavior that is not part
of the individual's immediate response to the sensory stimulation during the learning experience" (p. 93).
Behaviorism is the school of psychological thought that focuses on observable behavior and its relationship to
the environment and does not recognize unobservable mental states. Thoughts, emotions, and motives are
examples of mental states.
Three core views are central to the concept of behaviorism: learning, anti-mentalism, and the idea that one can
study human behavior by studying nonhuman behavior.
In this lesson, you will focus primarily on three types of learning: habituation, classical conditioning, and
operant conditioning. Keep the core views of behaviorism in mind as you view the video lecture and read
Chapter 4.
Consider this!
Before you proceed, discuss why you believe the two opposing views (behaviorism and
unconscious mental states) are vital to the science of psychology.
Psychologist Date
Conditioning Theory
1890s Classical
A stimulus in the
results in a
response. Pavlov's
classical dog
Dogs Get
John Watson
1920s Classical
Fear is conditioned
in humans.
Conditioning a rat
phobia in the
"Little Albert"
Little Albert
B.F. Skinner
1930s Operant
Subjects learn to
Skinner Box
Ivan Pavlov
repeat behavior
that produces
positive results
and avoid
behaviors which
unpleasant results.
Bloom and Gray provide an example of the simplest form of learning, habituation. When an initial event
happens in the environment, you respond in some way and take notice. When the event continues to happen,
your responses decline and you get used to the stimulus. This form of learning allows you to distinguish familiar
stimuli from new events or stimuli.
Consider this!
Take a moment and assess your environment. What are your observations? Discuss the benefits
of habituation based on your observations. Are there any drawbacks?
B.F. Skinner
Classical Conditioning
Pavlov and Watson
Initial Reflex Response
to Stimulus
Unconditioned Response
Primary Reinforcer
Repeated Stimulus
Unconditioned Stimulus
Primary Punisher
Decline in Reflex
Responses to Stimulus
Conditioned Response
Conditioned Stimulus
Secondary Punisher
Bloom and Gray provide more discussion on Watson, Pavlov, and Skinner's research discoveries and their
implications for learning.
Bloom's lecture refers to an article in The Norton Reader by John Watson and Rosalie Raynor entitled
"Conditional Emotional Reactions." The reader is not provided for you. View the video of the experiment:
Baby Albert Experiments
Summarizing Your Learning
1. To reinforce your learning of classical conditioning and operant conditioning, go to the PsychSim5 Web site.
Once there, select Operant Conditioning. You can review at your own pace by selecting the NEXT button to
the right of the screen.
2. Try it out! Demonstrate your understanding of both classical and operant conditioning. Think about your
current behaviors such as studying, driving, playing sports, exercise, or eating patterns. Then, select any two
behaviors -- one that demonstrates classical conditioning and one that demonstrates operant conditioning.
Write a three-paragraph response using the following guidelines (Note: this is not submitted for scoring):
Paragraph 1: Identify and discuss your two current behaviors.
Paragraph 2: Explain how one behavior demonstrates classical conditioning.
Paragraph 3: Explain how one behavior demonstrates operant conditioning.
Be sure to identify the following:
Classical Conditioning
Operant Conditioning
Unconditioned Response (UR) Primary Reinforcer
Unconditioned Stimulus (US)
Primary Punisher
Conditioned Response (CR)
Secondary Reinforcer
Conditioned Stimulus (CS)
Secondary Punisher
Positive Reinforcement
Negative Reinforcement