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Explain how the environment, cognition and biology can influence learning

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Explain how the environment, cognition and biology can influence learning Learning is a fundamental part of life as we are learning ever day and without being able to learn we could not survive. In Psychology learning is generally about the different ways in which people learn and how the information is remembered rather than what is learned. Also people tend to believe that learning is deliberate. The way psychologists look at it is that learning isn't necessarily deliberate and can be learnt by observing the environment around us. The definition of learning is the gain of knowledge or a skill by study. In order to explain how the environment, cognition and biology can influence learning the focus of this essay will be on the nature-nurture debate. The nature argument is how biology can influence learning and this is believed by the nativists. They believe that learning is innate, which means that we are born with certain things that we naturally know and react to. Some nativists such as Gibson and Walker believed that fear was innate. In 1960 they constructed a glass topped table with two halves. One half had a checkerboard design directly underneath the glass and the other half had the design four feet below the glass to create a drop effect. ...read more.


This experiment was based on Pavlov's findings in the late nineteenth century on classical conditioning. Classical Conditioning is a training procedure for learning and it is built upon respondent behaviour which are reflexes triggered directly by a certain stimuli. Pavlov monitored the salivary reflex in dogs as he noticed that the dogs salivated before food was given to them. The dogs would usually salivate when they could see, hear or smell something which they could associate with the food. So Pavlov started to introduce a bell when he fed the dogs so that they would associate the sound of the bell with the food. So this made the dogs salivate to the sound of the bell and this is what Classical Conditioning is. Usually Classical Conditioning is in three stages: before the learning; during the learning and after the learning. The first stage is before the learning where an unconditioned stimulus (UCS), which in Pavlov's experiment was the smell of the food, gives us an unconditioned response (UCR), which was the salivation. The second stage is during the learning and this is where the conditioned stimulus (CS), which was the bell, is added. This is added to the UCS, the smell of the food, to give the same UCR, salivation. ...read more.


The first is vicarious reinforcement which is learning through observing someone else's behaviour be reinforced. The other type of reinforcement he added was self approval which is behaving in a certain way because it makes the subject feel good about them self. The key experiment Bandura did to show his vicarious reinforcement was done in the sixties and was called 'Bashing the Bobo'. This experiment observed how children imitated role models of the same and different sex in aggression. The children were exposed to these models and then let loose on a 'Bobo' doll to see how they behaved. The observers recorded three different types of aggression; physical aggression; verbal aggression and non aggressive verbal responses. Bandura found that the children tended to imitate the same sex role model and especially in the males. The cognitive approach is also an argument to how we learn things. However, the real answer to how we learn is that it is a mixture of nature, nurture and cognition. It also depends on what is being learned and different things are learnt in different ways. For example the ability to breathe or open our eyes will be innate, learning a new language will probably be to with being reinforced and therefore would be from the nurture argument, and aggression or love may be cognitive. Although for all of these it is very hard to prove how it is learnt. ...read more.

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