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classical conditioning

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classical conditioning

learning by association; occurs when two stimuli are repeatedly paired together (an unconditioned stimulus and a neutral stimulus). NS eventually produces the same response as the UCS alone

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showed how dogs learned to associate the sound of a bell (a stimulus) with food (another stimulus) and would produce the salivation response every time they heard the sound.

neutral stimulus (bell) elicited a new learned response (conditioned response) through association

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when the conditioned stimulus is no longer paired with the unconditioned stimulus, so the conditioned response becomes extinct/disappears

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spontaneous recovery

when the individual carries out the conditioned response some time after extinction has occurred

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when slight changes in the conditioned stimulus still produces the same conditioned response

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unconditioned stimulus

produces an unconditioned response (e.g. food + salivation)

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neutral stimulus

doesn’t produce a conditioned response (e.g. bell + no response)

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conditioned stimulus

produces a conditioned response through association (e.g. bell + salivation)

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positive reinforcement

receiving a reward when a certain behaviour is performed which increases the likelihood that behaviour will be repeated

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negative reinforcement

occurs when an animal/human avoids something unpleasant and the outcome is a positive experience which increases the likelihood that behaviour will be repeated

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unpleasant consequence of behaviour decreases the likelihood that behaviour will be repeated (finding away to avoid punishment is negative reinforcement)

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Skinner’s box

demonstrated, using a rat, the mechanisms of positive and negative reinforcement.

  • Positive reinforcement was shown when the rats pressed down on a lever to receive food as a reward, and subsequently learnt to repeat this action to increase their rewards.

  • Negative reinforcement was shown when the rat learnt to press down on the lever to avoid the unpleasant consequence of an electric shock.

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operant conditioning

a form of learning in which behaviour is shaped and maintained by its consequences

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learning is an active process whereby humans and animals operate on their environment

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behaviourist approach

a way of explaining behaviour in terms of what is observable and suggests that all behaviour is learnt through classical/operant conditioning

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an early behaviourist that rejected introspection as it involved too many vague and difficult to measure concepts

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behaviourist research

the basic processes that govern learning are the same in each species so animals can replace humans as experimental subjects

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strength of the behaviourist approach: well controlled research

  • focus on measurement of observable behaviour in highly controlled lab settings

  • breaking down behaviour into stimulus-response units allows cause and effect relationships to be established

  • all other possible extraneous variables are removed

  • skinner able to show how reinforcement influenced animal’s behaviour

  • scientific credibility

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counterpoint of the behaviourist approach

  • oversimplified the learning process

  • simple components = ignore influence of human though

  • social learning theory and cognitive approach highlight mental processes involved in learning

  • learning = more complex than observable behaviour

  • private mental processes also essential

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strength of the behaviourist approach: real world application

  • operant conditioning is the basis of token economy systems used in institutions like prisons and psychiatric wards

  • TE: rewarding appropriate behaviour with tokens that can be exchanged for privileges

  • classical conditioning applied to the treatment of phobias

  • increases value

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limitation of the behaviourist approach: environmental determinism

  • sees all behaviour as conditioned by past conditioning experiences

  • Skinner: everything we do is the sum total of our reinforcement history

  • our past conditioning determined the outcome of decisions

  • ignores influence of free will on behaviour - Skinner: free will is an illusion

  • extreme position and ignores influence of conscious decision-making processes

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social learning theory

a way of explaining behaviour that suggests learning occurs directly (classical/operant conditioning) and indirectly (vicarious reinforcement) → combines learning theory with the role of cognitive factors

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mediational processes

cognitive processes that determine whether a new response is acquired, they mediate/intervene between stimulus and response

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mediational process: the extent to which we notice certain behaviours

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mediational process: how well a behaviour is remembered

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motor reproduction

mediational process: the ability of the observer to perform the behaviour

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mediational process: the will to perform the behaviour, determined by whether the behaviour was rewarded or punished

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The process by which an observer relates to/ associates themselves with a role model and aspires to become more like that role model - desire to be associated with a group because they possess desirable characteristics

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role model

A person with whom the observer identifies with - is usually attractive, has high social status, is of a similar age and the same gender to the observer. This model can exert influence indirectly by not being physically present in the environment but, for example, seen in the media

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vicarious reinforcement

A type of indirect learning which occurs when an observer sees their role model being rewarded for displaying a certain behaviour. The observer is then motivated to imitate this behaviour, in an effort to receive the same reward.

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copying the behaviour of others

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attention + retention

involved with observation and understanding of behaviour

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motor reproduction + motivation

involved with imitation of behaviour

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strength of social learning theory: cognitive factors

  • recognises importance of cognitive factors in learning

  • classical/operant conditioning can’t offer adequate accounts of learning alone

  • humans store info about behaviour of others and make judgements about when it’s appropriate to perform certain actions

  • SLT provides a more comprehensive explanation of human learning by recognising the role of meditational processes

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counterpoint of social learning theory

  • makes too little reference to biological factors in social learning

  • Bandura: natural biological differences influenced our learning potential but thought learning itself was determined by environment

  • recent research: observational learning is a result of mirror neurons in the brain allowing us to empathise and imitate other people

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limitation of social learning theory: contrived lab studies

  • evidence of SLT was gathered through lab studies

  • Bandura’s ideas developed through observation of young children’s behaviour in a lab

  • lab studies = contrived - participants may respond to demand characteristics

  • Bobo doll research: as main purpose of the doll is to hit it, the children were simply behaving in a way that they thought was expected

  • research tells us little about how children actually learn aggression

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strength of social learning theory: real world application

  • SLT are applied to real world behaviours.

  • it can explain cultural differences in behaviour

  • modelling, imitation and reinforcement accounts for how children learn from others around them , including the media

  • explains how social/cultural norms are transmitted through particular societies

  • useful in understanding a range of behaviours e.g. gender role

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Bandura - Study A

  • recorded behaviour of young children who watched an adult behave in an aggressive way towards a Bobo doll

  • when these children were later observed playing with the Bobo doll, they behaved more aggressively towards the doll than those who observed a non-aggressive adult

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Bandura - Study B

  • showed videos to children when an adult behaved aggressively towards the Bobo doll.

  • One group of children saw the adult praised for their behaviour, a second group saw the adult punished for their aggression and a control group saw the aggression without any consequence.

  • first group showed much more aggression to their Bobo doll, followed by the control group, then the second

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Bandura - Study A SLT

illustrates the concepts of observational learning and imitation. The children in the study saw the adult striking the doll as a role model and behaved in a similar way when they were placed in the same situation.

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Bandura - Study B SLT

illustrates vicarious reinforcement. The children who had seen aggression rewarded with praise were more likely to imitate the aggression than the children in the no-consequence control group, and much more likely than the children in the 'telling-off' condition (who saw the aggression punished).

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cognitive approach

focuses on how our mental processes affect behaviour

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assumptions of the cognitive approach

assumes that the scientific and objective study of internal mental processes is possible. However, as these private processes cannot be directly observed, cognitive psychologists formulate conclusions of their workings, through making inferences, based upon observable behaviours.

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internal mental processes

private operations of the mind, such as perception and attention, that mediate between stimulus and response

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the process where cognitive psychologists draw conclusions about the way mental processes operate on the basis of observed behaviour

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Packages of ideas and information formed through experience which help the individual understand and predict the world around them

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cognitive neuroscience

The scientific study of the influence of brain structures on mental processes

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use of theoretical and computer models

used to make inferences about internal mental processes

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an example of a theoretical model is

the information processing approach

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information processing approach

suggests that information flows through the cognitive system in a sequence of stages that include input, storage and retrieval (MSM). is based on the way computers function

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computer model

involves actually programming a computer to see if instructions produce a similar output to humans - if they do we can suggests similar processes are going on in the human mind.

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emergence of cognitive neuroscience: 1860s

Broca identified how damage to ‘Broca’s area’ could permanently impair speech production

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emergence of cognitive neuroscience: 1996

Buckner + Peterson showed how episodic and semantic memory are located on opposite sides of the PFC. Braver found the central executive (working memory) resides in a similar area

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emergence of cognitive neuroscience: OCD

scanning techniques are useful in establishing the neurological basis of mental disorders e.g. the link between the parahippocampal gyrus and OCD, plays a role in processing unpleasant emotions

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emergence of cognitive neuroscience

advances in brain imaging techniques (fMRI + PET) mean scientists can systematically observe and describe the neurological basis of mental processes

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emergence of cognitive neuroscience: computer models

focus of cognitive neuroscience has expanded to include the use of computer generated models that are designed to ‘read’ the brain. led to the development of mind mapping techniques - ‘brain finger-mapping’

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strength of the cognitive approach: scientific methods

  • uses objective, scientific methods

  • cognitive psychologists employ highly controlled and rigorous methods so researchers infer cognitive processes at work

  • uses lab studies to produce reliable, objective data

  • emergence of cognitive neuroscience enables the two fields of biology and cognitive psychology to come together to enhance the scientific basis of study

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counterpoint of the cognitive approach

  • it relies on the inference of mental processes rather than direct observation of behaviour

  • it suffers from being too abstract and theoretical in nature

  • research studies of mental processes are carried out using artificial stimuli that don’t represent everyday experience

  • lacks external validity

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strength of the cognitive approach: real world application

  • cognitive approach is most dominant in psychology today

  • is applied to a range of practical and theoretical contexts

  • contributed to the field of artificial intelligence and the development of robots - exciting and might revolutionise the future

  • applied to treatment of depression (CBT) and improved the reliability of eyewitness testimony

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strength of the cognitive approach: soft determinism

  • Many consider the hard determinist stance of the behaviourist approach – that free will is an illusion – as an extreme position, pointing to some element of free choice in our thoughts and behaviour.

  • complete free will is also unlikely given the many and varied factors that exert an influence upon us.

  • the cognitive approach offers a logical compromise in this debate in its suggestion that thoughts are 'freely' chosen but only within the limits of our knowledge and experience.

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biological approach

suggests everything psychological is at first biological - to understand human behaviour we must look to biological structures and processes within the body (the mind ‘lives’ within the brain’

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neurochemical basis of behaviour

our thoughts/behaviour rely on chemical transmission in the brain - occurs using neurotransmitters

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neurochemistry (bio)

refers to the action of chemicals in the brain

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imbalance on neurochemicals

… in the brain is implicated as a possible cause of mental disorder - low levels of serotonin in OCD and overproduction of dopamine in schizophrenia

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genetic basis of behaviour

psychological characteristics are inherited in the same way as physical characteristics

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concordance rates

the extent to which twins share the same characteristic

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twin studies in the biological approach

used to investigate whether certain psychological characteristics have a genetic basis - using concordance rates - if a characteristic is genetic we expect MZ twins to be concordant, not true for DZ twins who share 50% of the same genes (env constant)

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the particular set of genes a person possesses

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the way genes are expressed through physical, behavioural and psychological characteristics and the influence of the environment

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twins geno/phenotypes

despite having the same gees, the way identical twins’ genes are expressed is different. this illustrates that much of human behaviour depends upon an interaction between inherited factors and the environment

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is a change in gene expression, without altering an individual’s genetic make-up. epigenetic markers can be left on DNA through exposure to certain environmental factors, like diets and pollution

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natural selection

any genetically determined behaviour that enhances an individual’s survival and reproduction will continue in future generations - occurs because some traits give the possessor certain advantages

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the changes in inherited characteristics in a biological population over successive generations

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strength of the biological approach: real world application

  • more understanding of neurochemical brain processes = more use of psychoactive drugs

  • psychoactive drugs can be used to treat serious mental disorders

  • biological approach promoted treatment of. clinical depression using antidepressants

  • antidepressants increase levels of serotonin at synapses in the brain = reduction of depressive symptoms

  • depressed people = able to manage their condition and live in the community

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counterpoint of the biological approach

  • antidepressants don’t work for everyone

  • Cipriani et al: compared 21 antidepressants an found wide variations in their effectiveness

  • most were more effective than placebos but the effects were ‘mainly modest’

  • challenges biological approach - brain chemistry alone may not account for all cases of depression

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strength of the biological approach: scientific methods

  • uses a range of precise and highly objective methods to investigate the genetic and biological basis behaviour

  • include scanning techniques: fMRIs and EEGs

  • with advances in technology its possible to accurately measure physiological and neural processes in ways that aren’t open to bias

  • based on reliable and objective data

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limitation of the biological approach: biological determinism

  • it sees human behaviour as governed by internal genetic causes over which we have no control

  • yet the way an individual’s genotype is expressed is heavily influences by the environment

  • not even identical twins looks and think the same

  • purely genetic argument is problematic when we consider crime - a violent criminal might excuse their actions by claiming their behaviour was controlled by a crime gene

  • too simplistic and ignores mediating effects of the environment

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psychodynamic approach

a perspective that describes the different forces, most of which are unconscious, that operate on the mind and direct human behaviour and experience

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contains thoughts and memories which are not currently in conscious awareness but we can access if desired

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stores our biological drives and instincts (e.g. hunger, thirst and sex) as well as upsetting and disturbing thoughts repressed from the conscious that have significant influence on our behaviour

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accessing the unconscious

repressed memories can be accessed during dreams or ‘slips of the tongue’ - parapraxes

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the part of our mind we know about and are aware of - the ‘tip of the iceberg’

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freud’s psychic determinism

this is the idea that all behaviour is caused by unconscious internal conflicts, over which we have no control

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tripartite personality

id, ego and superego

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primitive part of personality, operates on the pleasure principle, mass of unconscious drives and instincts, only id is present at birth. id is entirely selfish and demands instant gratification of its needs

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works on the reality principle, mediates between id and superego, develops around 2 years, its role is to reduce conflict between the demands of the id and superego by employing defence mechanisms

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formed at the end of the phallic stage at 5 yrs, is our internalised sense of right and wrong, based on the morality principle, represents the moral standards of the child’s same gender parent and punishes the ego for wrongdoing through guilt

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psychosexual stages

each child goes through five developmental stages that are marked by different conflict that the child must resolve in order to progress to the next stage - failure to do so results in ‘fixation’ at that stage, where dysfunctional behaviour associated with that stage are carried forwards to adulthood.

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oedipus/electra complex

The ideas of the Oedipus and Electra Complexes were developed on the basis of case studies conducted on Little Hans, where Freud suggested that Little Hans’ phobia of horses stemmed from a fear towards his father, due to having sexual desires for his mother

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oedipus complex

freud claimed little boys develop incestuous feelings towards their mother and a murderous hatred for their rival in love - their father. fearing their father will castrate them , boys repress their feelings for their mother and identify with their father, taking on his gender role and moral values

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electra complex

freud suggested that little girls experience penis envy- they desire their father and hate their mother. they are thought to give up the desire for their father over time and replace this with a desire for a baby

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little hans

5 year old boy who developed a phobia of horses after seeing one collapse in the street - freud suggested hans’s phobia was a form of displacement in which his repressed fear of his father was displaced onto horses - horses were a symbolic representation of the fear of castration

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defence mechanisms

unconscious strategies that the ego uses to manage conflict between the id and the superego - often involve some form of reality distortion and as a long term solution are regarded as psychologically unhealthy and undesirable

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forcing a distressing memory out of the conscious mind

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refusing to acknowledge some aspect of reality

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transferring feelings from the true object of anxiety onto a substitute target/object.

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oral stage

0-1 years: mouth, tongue, lips [weaning off of breast feeding or formula

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oral fixation

smoking, overeating, biting nails, sarcastic, critical

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anal stage

1-3 years: anus [toilet training]

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