Consumer Behavior Case Study Do Our Avatars Learn?

Topics: Classical conditioning, Behaviorism, Operant conditioning Pages: 3 (835 words) Published: April 16, 2012
Case Study: Do Our Avatars Learn?

1) According to the text, classical conditioning occurs when a stimulus that elicits a response is paired with another stimulus that initially does not elicit a response on its own. As time passes, the second stimulus is able to cause a similar response because of the fact that we associate it with the first stimulus. An example of classical conditioning would be one that was demonstrated by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov. He conducted research on digestion in dogs. Pavlov was able to induce classically conditioned learning when he paired a neutral stimulus (a bell) with a stimulus that was known to cause a salivation response in dogs (he squirted dried meat powder into their mouths). The powder represented an unconditioned stimulus due to the fact that it was naturally capable of causing the response. As time passed, the bell represented a conditioned stimulus. Initially, the bell didn’t cause salivation. However, the dogs learned to associate it with the meat powder and began to salivate at the sound of the bell only. The drooling of these canine consumers because of a sound, now linked to feeding time, represented a conditioned response. Pavlov demonstrated a basic form of classical conditioning that primarily applies to the responses that the autonomic (e.g., salivation) and nervous (e.g., eye blink) systems control. Meaning, it focuses on visual and olfactory cues that induce hunger, thirst, and other basic drives. When marketers are able to consistently pair these cues with conditioned stimuli, such as brand names, consumers may learn to feel hungry or thirsty when they encounter these brand cues at a later point. This is an example of how classical conditioning can operate for a consumer who visits a new tutoring Web site and is greeted by the Web site’s avatar who resembles Albert Einstein. The individual might not pick of the olfactory cues the first time he visits the Web site, but over a period of time he/she...
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