Classical and Operant Conditioning

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Classical and Operant Conditioning

Classical conditioning is a basic form of learning in which one stimulus comes to serve as a signal for the occurrence of a second stimulus. During classical conditioning, organisms acquire information about the relations between various stimuli, not simple associations between them. (Psychology, pg.170). In classical condition a stimulus, or a physical event capable of affecting behavior, that initially doesn’t elicit a particular response can obtain the capacity to elicit that response as a result of repeated pairing with a stimulus that can elicit a response.

Classical conditioning became part of a careful study in the early twentieth century, when the Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov identified it as an important behavioral process. Pavlov started out his research focusing on the process of digestion in dogs. Along his research he noticed that the dogs from his studies often began to salivate when they saw or smelled food but before they even tasted it. Some of the dogs even salivated at sight of the pan where the food was kept, or at the sight of the person who usually brings the food. Pavlov said that the stimuli had somehow became signals for the food itself. The dogs had learned that when the signals were present, food would soon follow. Pavlov quickly recognized the potential importance of his observation and started shifting his research. His experiment started out with a neutral stimulus, or a stimulus that has no previous effect of salivation such as the bell. He rang the bell then immediately followed it by a second stimulus know to produce salivation, such as a dried meat powder that was placed directly in the dogs mouth. The meat powder is considered to be the unconditioned stimulus or UCS, because the ability to salivate was automatic and not learned. On the flipside the salivation of the dog to the meat powder is the unconditioned response or UCR. The bell now is termed the conditioned stimulus or CS...
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