Why are we superstitious?
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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
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
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
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
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
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)
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)
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)
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
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
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