Phobias and Addictions
Classical and operant conditioning play a large part in how people learn both good bad habits. Phobias and addictions are just two of the negative behaviors learned or triggered by one of these behaviors. Classical conditioning is a type of learning discovered by Ivan Pavlov. He found that he could use a conditional or neutral stimulus to elicit an unconditioned response. Pavlov proved this theory with both a dog and a child. Ivan first measured the amount of saliva produced by the dog at the sight of food (a natural, unconditioned response). Then Pavlov begins to ring a bell right before he would serve the dog the food. In the beginning, the dog would only salivate when he saw the food, but to Pavlov's surprise, the dog started to salivate at the mere sound of the bell (a conditioned response). The same proved true with the child. An unethical experiment today, Pavlov conditioned an animal loving child to scream and cry at the sight of a dog (consequently, any other furry animal) he had previously been very friendly and unafraid by making loud noises right before he brought the animal out. B.F. Skinner discovered what is now called operant conditioning with the Skinner box (Kowalski & Western, 2009). Skinner used pigeons and feed as a reward system. If the pigeon pushed one colored button it would get a small but immediate serving of food, but if the pigeon pushed another button it would get a much larger reward but have to wait a brief period before the food delivered. Through the work with the pigeons, Skinner concluded that people operate under a system of rewards and punishments. Operant behavior focuses on the environment and is maintained by its consequences, while classical conditioning deals with the conditioning of reflexive behaviors that are elicited by neutral stimuli. Behaviors conditioned through classical conditioning are not maintained by consequences. Phobias and addictions plague millions. The difficulty begins in...
References: Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2009). Psychology (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Science Daily (2009). Science news: treating addiction by eliminating drug-associated memories. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090423082756.htm
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