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The humble rat has had plenty to do with the history of psychology. Some might say too much. At this blog we show our appreciation for the work of rats, who have demonstrated that they can learn, play basketball, ride on skateboards, press levers and run mazes - all with a certain bright-eyed eagerness and patience towards their human oppressors.
Ivan Pavlov was studying biology and digestion when he noticed something odd: the dogs in his experiment salivated BEFORE they were given the meat powder. Pavlov had identified a form of learning that makes it possible to condition people to respond in a reflex way.
That means, you can LEARN to respond INVOLUNTARILY. Spooky, but true.
In this form of learning the organism acts on the environment in order to gain a reward (or avoid something unpleasant).
A simple introduction to this idea is provided in the video below:
This is one of the infamous experiments that nevertheless provided intriguing insights into the potential influence of power and status on human behaviour.
After the horrific footage from Abu Ghraib, Zimbardo became a celebrity in the USA. Yet it's instructive to remember that he wanted to continue this experiment for the originally proposed two weeks, and only stopped it at the insistence of his partner (later his wife). He admits now that he was wrong to be reluctant, but at the time it seemed to be a compelling contribution to science.
What do you think?
Complex behaviours can be taught through SHAPING - rewarding something that is a small step towards the behaviour you finally want the organism to display.
For instance, if I wanted my daughter to clean her room, I could reward her at first just for making her bed, then for picking up an item from the floor...This shaping process can take a while. My daughter and I are still working on it.
But thankfully the little rat in the video below is pretty quick on the uptake.
At one stage one of the participants, with a little giggle, says to the experimenter, "Have we killed him?"
Recommended viewing for all those who do not wish to follow too slavishly the commands of a malevolent authority figure...
See the comments in the box directly above. Below are the second and third parts of the Milgram-like experiment.
This little video will give you a clear introduction to this devastating disease.
These brief but helpful introductory videos about Sigmund Freud provide insight into the historical context of his ideas and show the vital importance of the unconscious mind in his theory. By watching them you will also gain some appreciation of the revolutionary nature of his work; while other doctors prescribed, he listened...
Freud became interested in the study of hysteria. His famous case study of Anna O allowed him to develop many of his ideas. It was Anna herself who suggested the term "talking cure" to describe Freud's methods.
Ultimately Freud published "The Interpretation of Dreams", a significant but initially unpopular book. Despite public resistance to his ideas, gradually his theory gained credibility, until the concepts he created and the words he coined became part of the world's language.
This footage provides a step-by-step description of what happens in a sleep laboratory, showing the measures of physiological responses that are used.
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