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Title: Social and associative learning
Author: Ray, Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0001 3509 6549
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1997
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It has been assumed that the formation of S-R links, whereby stimuli previously experienced contiguously with the execution of a response come to elicit that response, is either sufficient to explain social learning, or, particularly in the case of observational learning, that it is inadequate to do so. Contemporary learning theory conceives of learning rather differently; as the formation and association of mental representation. It is argued in this thesis that the problems which affected learning theory in the behaviourist era, and those which arise in trying to understand social learning, are similar. Therefore, it is reasoned, social learning theory might escape its difficulties by understanding learning to involve the cognitive processes that contemporary associative learning theory proposes. The purpose of the empirical work in this thesis was to develop paradigms to investigate the extent to which social learning can be encompassed by contemporary associative learning theory. In particular, procedures were designed to expose observers to the conditions necessary for learning in isolated animals, and it was assumed that if social learning effects depend on these same conditions, it would suggest that they are mediated by the same associative mechanisms. In particular, evidence was sought that, like asocial learning, social learning is: 1) contingency dependent (Chapter 3); 2) subject to blocking and overshadowing (Chapter 4); 3) sensitive to both S-S and R-O relationships (Chapter 5); and 4) subject to the effects of stimulus pre-exposure (Chapter 6). In each case, the associative predictions were, to an extent, supported. However, it is concluded that in order to establish whether a particular socially learned behaviour is controlled by an associative structure involving mental representations, additional experiments are required to rule out S-R learning.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychology