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Posted: November 6th, 2022

How can you apply classical conditioning

Theories from chapter 7.

[Note—Please remember to review the specifics-DEFINITIONS, TERMINOLOGY, ETC. related to each of the types of learning from the text. Some of this material is a bit tricky on the first round of learning about it.]

1. How can you apply classical conditioning to your everyday lives (this one is not short on examples you can provide!)?

2. Give a few examples of operant conditioning that can apply to school, your home life, your children, etc., and explain how this affects any behavior change in each of these settings.

[These cover a lot of territories, so I’ll go easy on you here. Observational learning {Bandura} we covered in depth from chapter 1 although he is not emphasized in this text in the context of learning within this chapter. So, look back on your notes/earlier chapters and you’ll be all set with him.]


3. What did Bandura’s significant works in social learning in the 60s and beyond demonstrate regarding observing violent acts, and how can you apply that to what we see in the world today?

Classical Conditioning is a psychological phenomenon in which one learns by associating two or more stimuli. It is the process of connecting a conditioned stimulus to a conditioned response.

Who Was the Discoverer of Classical Conditioning?
Ivan Pavlov discovered the Classical Conditioning phenomenon. Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who was fascinated by canine physiology, particularly the digestive systems of dogs.

He started observing dogs and their eating habits to figure out when they start salivating. He concluded from his observations that dogs began to salivate when the bell was rung before the food was presented.

Pavlov built a machine to accurately determine and measure the amount of saliva produced when food was presented in order to prove his theory. Thus, the infamous Pavlov’s dogs experiment began.

Classical Conditioning’s Central Idea
This experiment led to the discovery of Classical Conditioning, a type of learning (as termed by Pavlov). The 1906 experiment was a major catalyst in the development and understanding of learning and behavior theories.

The experiment is made up of four distinct components. They are as follows:

1) Unconditional Stimulation

This is a specific object or stimulus that causes an automatic/unwilling bodily response. This is an unconscious process that has not previously been learned. The food is regarded as the unconditioned stimuli in this case.

For example, the smell of food from the mess/canteen is considered unconditioned stimuli for a student.

2) Unconditional Reaction

This is the automatic and involuntary response that occurs when the object or stimulus is presented. This response is typically unlearned and occurs as a result of Central Nervous System processes (CNS). The Unconditioned Response in this case is the dogs’ salivation.

For example, the student’s hunger and salivation are considered unconditioned responses.

3) Stimulus Conditioned

This is also referred to as the Neutral Stimulus. This stimulus is presented repeatedly until an association is formed between the object and the response. If the object (in this case, the food) is presented repeatedly, it will begin to elicit the same response. The bell is regarded as the conditioned stimulus in this case.

For example, the lunch bell is associated with the aroma of food. As a result, the bell is associated with lunchtime. As a result, the bell serves as the conditioned stimulus.

4) Conditioned Reaction

This is the result of repeated exposure to the conditioned stimulus (which is the bell). This is the reaction that occurs after the stimulus and response are linked. Hearing the bell causes the conditioned response of salivating.

For example, the bell is now associated with mess/canteen food. As a result, when the bell rings, the student may become hungry or salivate. This indicates the presence of classical conditioning.

What exactly is the Pavlov’s Dog Experiment?
Pavlov initially placed the food in front of the dog (Unconditioned Stimulus) and measured the level of salivation (Unconditioned Response). He repeated this several times to determine why the dog was salivating.

He began to ring a bell after the first couple of trials. He’d ring the bell and wait about 5 seconds before serving the food. Only when the food was present did the dogs continue to salivate. However, after repeated exposure to the bell (Conditioned Stimulus) and food, the dogs started salivating when they heard the bell (Conditioned Response).

This means the dog started associating the bell with food. This causes salivation when the bell rings.

A good example is when you smell your mother’s perfume. You may have grown up with the scent of your mother’s perfume. The perfume reminds you of your mother and the wonderful times you shared as children. As you grow older, you are exposed to the perfume several times and begin to associate it with happiness.

Several years later, if you catch a whiff of the perfume in a supermarket, you might associate it with happiness without even thinking about your childhood or your mother. This is due to Classical Conditioning, also known as learning by association.

When learning about classical conditioning, we must also understand and consider three other factors. They are as follows:

Extinction (a)

This is a phenomenon in which the conditioned stimulus (i.e., the bell) is presented excessively without the unconditioned stimulus (i.e., the stimulus) (i.e. dog food). Overexposure leads to the process of unlearning. The bell will eventually no longer elicit a conditioned response.

For example, when teaching children to use the toilet, parents may offer a reward every time the child uses the toilet. However, as the child continues to use the toilet, the parent will discontinue the rewards. The child will eventually continue the behavior without association as a result of the overexposure.

b) Explanation

This happens when the conditioned stimulus generalizes and causes a conditioned response. The dog, for example, may generalize the sound of other bells and begin to salivate.

This is demonstrated in the case of Little Albert. Using classical conditioning, he was taught to fear a white rabbit. He did, however, begin to generalize his phobia to other objects of similar shape, size, and color. He also began to fear other things, such as mice and hamsters. This is referred to as generalization.

Discrimination c)

This is the inverse reaction to Generalization. This happens when a person or animal can distinguish between different stimuli and thus does not react in the same way to each one.

This can be seen when a person has a specific phobia. A person who is afraid of cockroaches may not be afraid of spiders or other insects, despite the fact that they are similar.

What are the Psychological Applications of Classical Conditioning?
Several psychologists have used Classical Conditioning to better understand how people learn and behave. Classical Conditioning aided in the understanding of certain pathological conditions (such as phobias, drug addiction, and aversions) and their treatments. These are some examples:

Fears and Systematic Desensitization

Little Albert, a famous experiment conducted by John B Watson, helps us understand how phobias form. Watson used the same classical conditioning technique to instill fear in a young boy named Albert. During the first few trials, Albert was given a small rabbit.

Following the first few trials, the rabbit was subjected to a loud noise. Although Albert was not initially afraid of the rabbit, an association was formed between the rabbit and the loud noise. As a result, when he saw the rabbit, he was terrified. Albert developed a fear of rabbits as a result of this.

Classical Conditioning can also be used to prepare for fears. This is usually accomplished through the use of Systematic Desensitization. This treatment works by establishing a fear hierarchy. The client will identify and rank their fears in order of importance.

For example, a client who is afraid of lizards may feel fear at 10% when talking about them, 30% when looking at a picture of one, 50% when watching a video of one, and 70% when one is in the room.

The therapist then begins to work up the hierarchy, pairing deep breathing exercises with each step.

For instance, the therapist may show the client a picture of a lizard and then guide them through deep breathing exercises. This is done several times until the client is no longer afraid to see an image. They then proceed to the next level of the hierarchy.

This is how the herpetophobia (fear of lizards) hierarchy would look.

Behavior Fear Rating S. No.
1. Consider a lizard.
10 2. Examine a photograph of a lizard.
25. Examine a real Lizard in a closed box.
4. With the Lizard, hold the box.
60. Allow a Lizard to crawl on your desk.
Allow a Lizard to crawl on your shoe.
Allow a Lizard to crawl on your pants.
90. Allow a Lizard to crawl up your sleeve.
95. Allow a Lizard to crawl up your bare arm.
Vicarious Conditioning is the development of fear and conditioning as a result of watching someone else.

For example, if you see your mother running away from a spider, you may be conditioned to believe that spiders are frightening. This could lead to arachnophobia later in life.

b) Addiction and Aversion Therapy

Drugs produce a state of “ecstasy” or a “high.” This high causes the user to use again and again. Because the ecstasy feeling and the substance become paired, the user will continue to use the substance. They may even become addicted to it, resulting in an abuse disorder.

Aversion Therapy is a treatment method for substance abuse disorders. This is a behavioral therapy method in which unwanted behavior is associated with discomfort.

For example, an alcoholic may be required to snap a rubber band around their wrist every time they think of alcohol.

c) Attitude Formation and Classical Conditioning

Classical Conditioning has produced significant results in the formation of attitudes. Classical Conditioning has demonstrated the ability to predict and change a person’s attitude/feelings toward a specific object.

For example, a child witnesses her mother’s negative reaction to Native Americans. Her mother becomes enraged whenever she sees someone of Native American descent. She begins to associate Native Americans with anger. She may begin to view them negatively and, as she grows older, may treat them similarly.

As a result, classical conditioning has influenced her attitude toward a particular race. This is called attitude formation.

Ivan Pavlov’s experiments with learning and behavior sent shockwaves through the psychological community. It aided in the development of several other learning theories. It also aided in the understanding of human behavior and the evolution of treatment procedures.


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