CCN meeting | Jan De Houwer (Department of Experimental clinical and health psychology, Ghent University, Belgium)

20-06-2019 from 15:00 to 16:00
Henri Dunantlaan 2, room 4.5
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On the relevance of conditioning research for cognitive psychology

When learning is defined as the impact of environmental regularities on behavior, different types of learning can be distinguished on the basis of the type of regularity that influences behavior. For instance, operant conditioning can be defined as changes in behavior that are due to behavior-outcome relations. Such abstract functional definitions can be applied to a wide range of phenomena, especially when stimuli and behaviors are conceived of as classes of events (e.g., imitation) that also include conscious feelings and thoughts (e.g., sense of agency). Describing phenomena in abstract functional terms has many benefits for cognitive researchers. First, it reveals communalities and differences between different phenomena (e.g., Simon effect and task-rule congruency effect). Second, it facilitates an analysis of the learning experiences that create and shape the phenomena. Third, by separating the description of the phenomenon from the mental processes that are assumed to mediate the phenomenon, it reduces conceptual confusion (e.g., reinforcers versus rewards), increases theoretical freedom (e.g., propositional theories of conditioning), and encourages the development of general mental theories that cover many different empirical phenomena.