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Week 1 DQ 1
In learning and cognition, one of the major areas of discussion is the impact of nature and
nurture. What is the concept of nature-nurture, and why is it important in the study of
learning and cognition? Please post your response to this thread.
The nature versus nurture debate has been around for ages, yet researchers have still not
determined which of the two greater impacts an individual. The concept of nature represents that
our personality and behavior is based upon our genetics that we receive from our family. An
example of nature would be one’s hair and eye color and body type. One’s emotions and
motivations can also be a form of nature. Research has shown that a newborn isn’t born as a
blank state, but with inherited traits. “Human nature, said the behaviorists, is determined by what
we experience. The content of the “mind” is therefore the synthesis of our experiences, and little
else” (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2009). On the other side of the fence, nurture represents that one’s
behavior is directed by experiences and surroundings. “For the Gestalt theorist, the brain is not a
passive receiver and storehouse of information from the environment. The brain acts on
incoming sensory information in such a way as to make it more meaningful and organized. This
is not a learned function; it is the “nature” of the brain to impose organization and meaning on
sensory information” (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2009). Nurture represents the fact that while
genetics offers spunk to our personality, the environment has the power to change it and form
one into the exact opposite.
Nature and nurture not only affect one’s personality but also the study of learning and cognition.
While studying the cognition of an individual or their learning style, nature and nurture can offer
explanations to their behavior. For example, is one better at learning how to read than how to do
math because of nature or nurture or both? Nature and nurture offer different ways for one to
learn a certain way or their cognitive abilities. Researchers can evaluate the environment while
still considering one’s genetics when studying learning and cognition all thanks to nature and
Olson, M. H., & Hergenhahn, B.R. (2009). An Introduction to Theories of Learning. [University
of Phoenix Custom Edition e-Text]. : Pearson Education, Inc. Retrieved from Univeristy of
Phoenix, PSY390 - Learning and Cognition website.
Week 1 DQ 2

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Now that we have discussed the concept of learning and cognition, I would like
you to answer the following questions: Can learning be defined as “survival of
the fittest?” Why or why not? Provide specific examples in your response. Please
post your response to this thread.
Can learning be defined as “survival of the fittest”? Well, yes, in some cases and no in
others. When one is in medical school or is doing a residency program at a hospital
learning can be defined as “survival of the fittest”. The truth of the matter is, not
everyone makes it through medical school. A lot of individuals leave medical school
after a year owing hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, on the other hands
many show their true potential and can greatly affect the world of medicine. It all
depends on learning. Individuals must be completely focused on learning so they can
intake as much information as possible with understanding what it means. On the
contrary, learning isn’t always characterized by “survival of the fittest”. For example,
in a kindergarten classroom filled with about twenty-five five and six year olds trying
to learn the alphabet, they don’t have to form an alliance to graduate. In this time of
one’s life they are simply trying to learn how to function in higher education and
society. Learning is defined by one sentence but can mean so many different things to
people all across the world. Learning can be the newborns thrive to work their fingers
or the heart surgeon introducing a new procedure for cancer. Learning can have a
competitive edge to it but not always. It all depends on the situation and people
involved and time in one’s life.
Week 2 DQ 1
One of the most interesting issues related to learning and cognition is the use of
punishment and reward. Based on what you have learned so far about
punishment and reward, do you think that criminal behavior can better be
controlled by using punishment or by using reward? Why? Please post your
response to this thread.
Criminal behavior includes a wide spectrum of possibility. It can range from speeding
to murder. In regards to punishment and reward, I feel that each individual with their
each unique case will react differently to reward and punishment. What I have learned
from the text however, has taught me that reward and punishment is more complex
and has a more in-depth meaning and effect than what I once thought. Punishment
and reward must be used in the appropriate manner and in the appropriate situation in
order to change behavior or reaction. In regards to criminal behavior I recall what
Guthrie believed, that “punishment works, not because it changes the way the
individual responds to certain stimuli. Punishment is effective only when it results in
a new response to the same stimuli” (Olson, & Hergenhahn, 2009). Punishment will
fail if the behavior in the situation is incompatible with the punished behavior. I feel

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that punishment may work if one who participates in criminal behavior is arrested and
put in prison. Being in prison can represent Guthrie’s belief in that the punishment
will cause behavior that is incompatible with the punished behavior. The individual
will not be able to continue acting out with criminal behavior under the supervision.
Another reason punishment may work is that while in prison, the punishment will be
applied to the presence of the cues that caused the bad behavior, such as cell mates or
say recreational yard time. Reward on the other hand may work if the one conducting
the criminal behavior realizes that their bad behavior brings negative consequences
and being good brings on positive enforcement. I feel that one can’t say that
punishment and reward works more on criminal behavior because each individual and
case are different. If an individual doesn’t want to end their criminal behavior, neither
reward nor punishment will change it.
Olson, M. H., & Hergenhahn, B.R. (2009). An Introduction to Theories of Learning.
University of Phoenix Custom Edition e-Text]. : Pearson Education, Inc. Retrieved
from University of Phoenix, PSY390 - Learning and Cognition website.
Week 2 DQ 2
Without a consistent reward, behavior usually ceases. Given the fact that most slot machine
players almost never win, why do they still continue to play? Is your answer consistent with
a Skinner’s views? Why or why not?
One reason an individual would continue to play slot machines is because they are addicted. One
win can hook a player for life. That one time they won big could keep them coming back for
more. They could have the mind set that they are “lucky”. “Skinner believed that if a behavior
was reinforced, it was apt to be repeated. Skinner believed that positive reinforcement was more
effective than punishment. He also believed that the reinforcement must come swiftly” (Demand
Media, 2010). With gambling, reinforcement does come swiftly. Although one doesn't’t win
often they do win, and that positive reinforcement may be stronger then the all the negative ones
(times individual lost). Another view on this is that although an individual won’t win overall,
they do win small amounts during play. The slot machine will give and take offering negative
reinforces and positive ones and like Skinner believes, the positive ones have more of an effect.
When the individual leaves the slot machine, they recall the feeling of winning more than the do
losing, causing them to return and lose more of their money. When an individual is addicted to
gambling they often put themselves in positions where they have to win in order to pay their bills
so they return to the slots. Some people get so addicted that their life revolves around slot
machines in order to survive. This is obviously a hard life because one doesn't’t usually win. To
me, this is an interesting subject that portrays how humans behave differently. I don’t ever see
myself using a slot machine. I couldn't’t imagine putting my own hard earned money into a

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Excellent! Definitely coming back for more study materials.