Why are we superstitious?

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  1. How was classical conditioning first investigated?
    • Pavlov (1897)
    • Found that dogs would anticipate food and start salivating when they heard it approaching 
    • Took a neutral stimulus (bell) which would not normally induce salivation 
    • Took unconditioned stimulus (the meat) and an unconditioned response (salivation)
    • Rang bell then gave the meat 
    • Eventually the bell becomes a conditioned stimulus, paired with the presence of meat
  2. What is higher order conditioning?
    • The process of using previously conditioned stimuli to induce a response for another neutral stimulus 
    • Bell is rung with a black square causing salivation
  3. Can fear be conditioned?
    • Watson & Raynor (1920)
    • Little Albert is shown a monkey, then dog, then bunny, then white rat
    • A steel bar is hit with a hammer making a loud noise and scaring Albert whenever the rat is present 
    • Albert cried whenever he saw a white rat AND anything else that is white and furry
  4. How are rats conditioned to fear noise?
    • Habituation for a day 
    • Play a tone and shock the cage whenever it happens making the rate freeze
  5. Can we conquer fear?
    • Yes, remove the amygdala (responsible for fight or flight)
    • Feinstein et al (2010) S.M had amygdala damage due to a rare disease, did not show fear to any stimuli (haunted house, spiders, horror film)
    • BUT Feinstein et al (2012) found that people with bilateral amygdala damage showed fear and panic attacks when inhaling 35% CO2
  6. What was the first research into operant conditioning?
    • Thorndike 1898
    • Cat put into a box that could be opened via performing an action 
    • Once the cat learned what to do it repeated it (Thorndike's law of effect)
  7. What were skinner boxes?
    • Skinner (1938)
    • Rats pressed lever for food 
    • Operantly conditioned to press the lever 
    • Also did this with pigeons and ping pong (1950)
  8. Was clever hans clever?
    • No, it was due to operant conditioning 
    • Cannot understand english 
    • Knows to stomp until he sees the cue in his owner indicating when to stop and get a treat 
    • Pfungst (1907)
  9. Can we condition people to be superstitious?
    • Probably- Skinner (1948)
    • Dispenser gave food every 15 seconds 
    • Assumed that whatever behaviour they did before the dispensation was what they were being rewarded for 
    • Started repeating behaviour like turning in circles, believing their actions had a decisive impact on rewards
  10. Do superstitions work?
    • Serena Williams wears the same pair of socks for an entire tournament 
    • No but it improves performance- Damisch et al (2010)
    • The activation of a good luck related supersttipm leads to higher feelings of condidence in one's ability, the improved presence because of this conditions us to continue it 
    • Golf putting task, some p's told the ball was really lucky 
    • Those with the good luck charm made more putts 
    • Also performed motor dexterity task and told they would keep their fingers crossed 'press thumbs' or not 
    • Those who had the charm did better 
    • Told to bring lucky charm on on experiment and it was taken out to be photographed  
    • Some p's got it back, some didn't 
    • Performed a memory task and were asked to judge their level of self efficacy beforehand 
    • Those with the charm did it faster and with fewer turns as well as reporting a higher self efficacy 
    • Did anagram task and asked to set a goal first, those with lucky charms set higher goals and performed better 
    • Could be because they were more confident, more optimism, worked harder then achieved more which rewarded them, maintaining the superstition
Card Set:
Why are we superstitious?
2015-04-19 13:36:33
Psychology,Evidence & Enquiry
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