Classical Conditioning

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Date Submitted: 05/01/2012 09:38 PM

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Classical Conditioning

There is no escaping the constant “Ping, Ping, Ping” of cell phones these days. At any given moment you can find people of all ages reaching for their phones as soon as they hear that familiar ring. This behavior is so common most people do not think twice about it. As with all behaviors, this one can be explained in psychological terms as “classical conditioning”. In this paper, we will examine the origins of classical conditioning and how it can be used in our day to day life.

Classical conditioning is a well-known perspective of behavioral learning, conceived by the Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov did research on the digestive system of dogs and won a Nobel Prize for it in 1904. He is best known for his research done on his dogs and their development. He discovered a display of an unconscious and innate learning process of association. This grew from his observation of an estimated 60 dogs salivating at the chime of a meal time bell, before they saw a crumb of food. Pavlov introduced a conditioned response (CS), to the dogs at meal time. The CS was followed by another stimulus, which was the unconditioned stimulus (US) or the food. The US induced a response from the dogs, called the unconditioned response (UR). The UR was the salivation the dogs produced. Pairing the CS (meal time) and the US (the food) resulted in the CR (the salivation). After seeing his dogs salivate before seeing the food, he realized the dogs were associating meal time with food. He added another stimulus, a bell at meal time. Pavlov rang the bell first, before doing anything, making this the neutral stimulus (NS). He presented the US. He associated the sound of the bell with the smell of the food. After doing this many times, the dogs would salivate at the sound of the bell. He proved that one stimulus can be associated with another, making classical conditioning a learning process performed by association of one stimulus to another.(Sweeney & Bierley, p....