Classical Conditioning and the Pupil Dilation Response

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National University of Singapore
Department of Psychology

PL1101E: INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOLOGY

Question 2

Classical Conditioning and the Pupil Dilation Response

Here is a simple classical conditioning experiment that you can perform on yourself at home. You will need a bell (or something you can ring), a hand-held mirror, and a room that becomes completely dark when the light is turned off. Hold the bell while standing in the room near the light switch. Once in position, you should ring the bell and then immediately turn off the light. After waiting in total darkness for about 15 seconds, turn the light back on. Wait another 15 seconds with the light on, and then ring the bell and immediately turn the light back off (again waiting 15 seconds in the dark). Repeat this procedure 20 to 30 times, making sure that in each case the bell is rung immediately before the light is turned off. After numerous pairings, you should be ready to see the results. With the light on, watch your eyes closely in the mirror and then ring the bell. Your pupils should dilate slightly even without a change in light!

Explain the above process in terms of classical conditioning. State explicitly what the US, UR, CS, and CR are. Propose another (i.e., original, you cannot use examples from the textbook, the lecture slides or the one above!) classical conditioning experiment that you can perform at home. Again, state explicitly what the US, UR, CS, and CR are in your proposed experiment.

Classical conditioning was discovered by Ivan Pavlov, and it involves pairing a neutral stimulus (NS) with an unconditioned stimulus (UCS) that elicits an unconditioned response (UCR). Through repeated pairings, the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus (CS), which by itself evokes a conditioned response (CR) similar to the original UCR (as evoked by the UCS). Basically, the previously-neutral stimulus now acquires the same power as the unconditioned stimulus...
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