Classical Conditioning Situation

Classical conditioning is an automatic way of learning where a stimulus acquires the capability to evoke a response that was formally evoked by another stimulus. It was among the first studies to be carried out by Ivan Pavlov within the behavior system. During this learning, it was noticed that one responds to environmental conditions. Classical conditioning causes involuntary behavior which occurs as a result of environmental conditions. For instance, one can not avoid blinking when air is blown in their eyes, this act happens naturally and it is hard for one to avoid it or accept it. According to Rerscorla (1973), there are different types of classical conditioning, and these include; Unconditioned Stimulus which causes Unconditioned Response, in this type, a natural stimulus causes an unavoidable response. Another model for classical conditioning is the Neutral Stimulus (NS) and this does not result in any interest in terms of response.

According to Vigorito &Miller (2004), there are no new characters studied in the classical conditioning, but just the association which is created by bringing together the Neutral Stimulus with the Unconditioned Stimulus to enable the animal or a person to respond to both the conditions in the same way. After conditioning, both the Unconditioned Stimulus and the Conditioned Stimulus cause the same response in a person or an animal.

To achieve respondent conditioning, we must have a stimulus that naturally leads into a specified response and this is the one that is referred to as the Unconditioned Stimulus, for there is no learning involved in bringing together the stimulus and the response. We must also have a stimulus that does causes orienting response alone which is the Neutral Stimulus. These are the processes that are encountered before the conditioning process. A neutral stimulus is needed to be present first during the conditioning process then it should be followed by the unconditioned stimulus so that with time the learner will acquire the association between the two stimuli and be able to make the right connections (Rerscorla, 1973). After the process of conditioning, the first neutral stimulus causes the response that was formerly caused by the unconditioned stimulus to occur. This is the stimulus referred to as the conditioned stimulus as it now causes other different responses as a result of studying. Unconditioned and conditioned are just similar except that they are caused by different stimuli and labeled differently.

A situation in which to apply classical conditioning theory is in training a dog to sit. By using classical conditioning theory, begin by teaching the dog the necessary and basic things; for instance, use a particular act as a simpler reward. You can say the word sit followed by the act of sitting and then treat the dog as it takes. After some time the dog will start knowing between the two actions given and thus the alternative will be a good reward for the dog. These processes will have to be continued several times for the dog to get used to them. Dogs are classically conditioned, so when you tell them to sit and they follow instructions given, that is a stimulus-response sequence. The dog enjoys being with a person who gives it good treats, so the next time it meets that person, it feels happy. the dog will be well behaved or aggressive depending on the associations it’s trained with (Pavlov, 1927).

The chart below illustrates how classical conditioning is applied:

How classical conditioning is applied
Figure 1. How classical conditioning is applied

Reference List

  1. Pavlov, I. P. (1927). Conditioned Reflexes: An Investigation of the Physiological Activity Of the Cerebral Cortex. London: Oxford University Press.
  2. Rescorla, R. (1973). Effect of US habituation following conditioning. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, Vol. 8, Issue 2, 17-143.
  3. Vigorito, M. & Miller, R.R. (2004). The role of cognition in classical and operant Conditioning. Journal of Clinical Psychology, vol. 60, Issue 2, 369 – 392.
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