Social Learning: Psychological and Biological Perspectives

By Thomas R. Zentall; Bennett G. Galef Jr. | Go to book overview

learning criterion used for the go/no-go discrimination in the single bar situation; and (b) the question of whether typical laboratory rats are likely to have well-developed push-right and push-left responses in their repertoire-or means- end readiness as Tolman would put it. The data from Experiments 6 and 7, taken together, suggest that something other than local enhancement has been operating in the observational learning of a demonstrated response. Indeed, it is hard to interpret these data "noncognitively." Subjects appear to attend closely to the bar movement and appropriately operate on the environment when given the opportunity to do so. The necessary condition for the appropriate barpress appears to be the actual bar movement, that is, the response demonstration. In other words, the topographic similarity between the rat's rest response and the movement of the bar during training is not just spurious.


CONCLUDING REMARKS

Clearly, if there are important contingencies associated with certain external events, the observing animal makes the positive event occur when this becomes possible, even in the absence of both a responding model and subsequent reinforcement of the appropriate tested response, and does so in a full-blown fashion on initial test. Furthermore, once an appropriate response consistently occurs, then even though the value of the external event may change via the go/no-go reversal, the original barpress response continues to be made. Making a consistent response, whether overt as in the test chamber, or covert as when the go/no-go discrimination is learned (perceptual or attentional), leads to relevant learning-- consistent with the tenets of elicitation theory ( Denny 1971, 1986). This basic finding holds for both males and females, and cannot be explained by overlearning or enhancement effects.

The S-R association predominates over the S-S reversal association even though the S-S association involves many more learning trials than the S-R association. This is expected according to the elicitation position because the S-R habit is not extinguished by the opposite S-S learning that occurs in a very different stimulus context (i.e., observing through the tunnel door). That is, no competing response is pitted against the overt barpress response of the S-R habit in the stimulus context in which the S-R habit was established, namely, in the test chamber. Thus the S-R association is protected from extinction. As such, the intact S-R habit does not appear to impede the development of a reversed S-S association during observational training (trials to reversal criterion are about the same in TBR and RBT groups). The S-R habit appears to compete effectively with the new S-S association only in the test situation.

One final note: When the rat presses the S+ bar, it does not attempt to get back in the tunnel to obtain a food pellet; the rat presses the bar rather "deliberately" and just stays there, often hanging onto the bar. This last point invites the

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