Reinforcement Role in Operant and Classical Conditioning

Topics: Operant conditioning, Classical conditioning, Behaviorism Pages: 10 (2078 words) Published: December 7, 2012

The Cyprus Institute of Marketing


Subject: Consumer Behaviour

Lecturer: Avgi Avgousti

Program: ADBA

Words: 1912

Date due:14.12.2012

Name of Student: Elena Kapona Andreou

Student Registration Number: CYN/136/11

The concept of reinforcement is very important in the learning of consumer preferences. Explain why and discuss this relation to the Classical and Operant Conditioning Theories. Support your answer with examples.

Table of content:

Page 1 - introduction

Page 2 –about learning

Page 3 - classical conditioning

Page 4-5 – examples of classical conditioning

Page 6-7 – operant conditioning

Page 8- about reinforcement and its role in classical and
operant conditioning

Page 9 – conclusion

What will be discussed in this study is how important reinforcement is on the process of consumers’ learning and preferences.

The essay opens with a definition of learning and it is explained how consumers learn behaviours either passive ( low involvement) because of associations, nor because are motivated (high involvement) which lead to a certain behaviours.

Subsequently, the three important factors in learning (association, motivation and reinforcement) are analyzed.

Next, the definition of Classical and Operant Conditioning will be given and analyzed to underlines differences and to demonstrate why is important to know how certain behaviours can be achieved.

After will be demonstrate that even though reinforcement is needed to maintain strong associations, the aims of marketers is to reinforce consumers with positive outcome to lead them to brand loyalty.

In conclusion will be underlined that the concept of reinforcement is very important on the learning consumer preferences because a continued positive reinforced habit is very difficult to break.


Learning by Schiffman and Kanuk (2004) is defined “as the process by which individuals acquire the purchase and consumption knowledge and experience that they apply to future related behaviour” (p. 207). As they state, it is important to underline few tips as: it is a process that has as results future behaviours as a feedback from newly acquired knowledge or experience.

How is explained by Hawkins et al.(2010), learning may occur in either high-involvement of a consumer in the learning process because of motivation to do so, or low-involvement or even nonconscious when the consumer has little or no motivation at all in learning a behaviour. (p.374)

Many theorists classified learning in two categories: behavioural learning and cognitive learning.
Solomon et al. (2002) state that behavioural learning occurs as a result of responses to external events opposite cognitive learning where the results occurs because of mental processes. (p. 65-67)

This study will concentrate in behavioural learning, their classification, differences between Classical and Operant conditioning, how the concept of reinforcement influence this behaviours and how marketers build their companies depending in what are expecting from the consumers: low or high involvement.


Early classical conditioning theorists considered that all organisms (both animal and human) could be taught certain behaviours during repetition of some acts. (Schiffman and Kanuk, 2004)

Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist, can be considered the founder of classical conditioning theory. Was the first to explain conditioning in his experiment with dogs. He demonstrated that a stimulus, called...
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