Classical Conditioning Essay

Classical conditioning is one of the very improtnat aspects as it can help to predict huiman behavior and hence can be applied in various fields. It was developed by the Russian Scientist and researcher Ivan Pavlov, who was trained in biology and medicine. The scientist was interested in studying the digestive system of dog, and it was only by coincidence hat he concentrated on the behavioral aspects of the dogs during his study. He observed that whenever he walked into the room during a particular time of the day, the dogs salivated.

He was fascinated with this phenomenon and conducted further research in order to investigate it (Huitt, 1999). The classical conditioning theory was renamed as “respondent conditioning” by Skinner, as it involved changes demonstrated by the individual or organism to changes in the environment. According to the classical condition theory, a previously neutral stimulus would transform into a conditioned stimulus, when it is closely associated with an unconditioned stimulus.

Whenever a dog is presented with a neutral stimulus such as a bell sound, a response is elicited because it is closely associated several times with an unconditioned or a natural stimulus for a particular response (for example, showing food to a hungry dog). The association should be reasonable in the sense that it should be presented at the same time (close link should exist). Classical conditioning is also known as “stimulus substitution. ” The classical conditioning usually starts with a reflex, such as an involuntary behavior, which is caused following a previous event in the environment.

A reflexive response is generated for a stimulus from the environment. This response, which occurs to an unconditioned stimulus, is an unconditioned response. A neutral stimulus would usually not generate an unconditional response. For example, an unconditioned response would be produced when an unconditional stimulus is presented. However, a neutral stimulus (sound of a bell) will only orient the dog (attract the dog’s attention), but not produce an unconditional response (that is salivation).

Take for example, pairing or linking a neutral stimulus (sound of the bell) is to an unconditional stimulus (such as the smell of food), then the hungry dog will salivate once the neutral stimulus is presented. In this case, the neutral stimulus would transform into a conditioned reflex by close association. Such a converted stimulus is now a conditioned stimulus, and the response from the dog is known as a conditioned reflex (Butterfield, 2007; & Butterfield, 1996).

Classic conditioning in human beings provides us with several functions including meeting with our basic needs; developing protective mechanisms or reflexes; developing fear towards other objects; etc. It plays a very important role in the functioning of an organism. One of the scenarios where the classical conditioning theory can be applied is the Baby Albert experiment. This was originally performed by John Watson and his assistant Rosalie Rayner on Baby Albert, who was at that time one year old (Northern Illinois University (NIU), 2008).

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In this experiment, Watson was trying to create the fear of rats in Baby Albert, by the process of classical conditioning. He first passed the unconditional stimulus that is a large sound near baby Albert, which created an unconditional response in the form of fear. Then he passed a neutral stimulus (the appearance of a rat), which drew the attention of Baby Albert but did not generate an unconditional response of fear. Then Watson slowly began to associate the large sound with the appearance of the rat.

By the process of conditioning, the rat gets converted into a conditioned stimulus generating a conditioned response. This can have a very important role in the development of phobias (fear and anxiety disorders). The process of classical conditioning works very well in lower animals and human beings. Children learn through a process of classical conditioning. Many companies are also using the process of classical conditioning as it works instinctively and unknowingly in human beings.

For example in the sale of cars, men usually are interested in buying cars. Many companies are using young models to unconditionally stimulate men who develop an unconditional response towards these girls. The association between cars and girls, put something in their mind, and hence they get attracted to cars by the process of conditioning. In this case, the cars act as a conditioned stimulus, producing a conditioned response (NIU, 2008; & Butterfield, 1996).

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Classical Conditioning Essay

Classical conditioning is a form of basic learning the body automatically responds to a stimulus. One stimulus takes on the properties of another. The Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) is credited for discovering the basic principles of classical conditioning whilst he was studying digestion in dogs. He developed a technique for collecting dog’s salivary secretions. Pavlov (cited in Eysneck M.W 2009) noticed that the dogs would often start salivating before they were given any food or saw the feeding bucket or even when they heard the footstep of the laboratory assistant coming to feed them. Quite by accident Pavlov had discovered that the environmental control of behaviour can be changed as a result of two stimuli becoming associated with each other. These observations led to what’s now called classical conditioning.

A neutral stimulus (such as a bell) which normally wouldn’t produce a response (such a salivating) eventually becomes paired with another stimulus (such as the food) this is referred to an unconditional response. When the bell and food (unconditional stimulus) are paired often enough the dogs start to salivate as soon as they hear the bell and before the food is served. When this occurs conditioning has taken place. (Cited in Burns 1995) Pavlov argued that if dogs could be conditioned to salivate then it is possible to apply the process to bodily process that effect illness and mental health disorders. Nowadays classical conditioning is applied in the treatment of phobias and in aversion therapies.(Cited in Burns 1995).

Operant conditioning

Operant conditioning is the process of a behaviour in which the likelihood of a specific behaviour is increased or decreased through positive or negative reinforcement. The theory is based on Thorndike (1993) law of effects which state that behaviour is a function of its consequences (cited in O’ Brien 2009). Skinner used observation as a leading approach to operate conditioning. A key principle of operant conditioning was that where behaviour is reinforced (that is where people are rewarded when they behave in a particular way). It will tend to be repeated under particular circumstances. (Cited in Gross R 2010). For example a mother picking up a crying infant and if the baby stops crying when picked up, the probablility of the mother repeating the same behaviour increases since the cessation of the baby’s crying is a reinforced.(Gerry, K et alt page45) . Reinforcers can also be primary or secondary.

Primary reinforcers are our basic needs like food, water and shelter. Secondary reinforcers are events that have become rewarded through their association. For example money, because money can satisfy people needs it takes on reinforcing characteristics of its own. Operant conditioning can be used in behaviour management and in education, for example children are rewarded when they do well in school and punished if they fail, if they see someone getting rewarded they are more likely to copy the good behaviour. Operant conditioning can also be used to help people with addictions along with classical conditioning,for example in alcohol and drug addiction. Operant conditioning is also used in pain management and in social skills training. It has also been used to reward schizophrenic patients for good behaviour. For example given them tokens in exchange for sweet when they behave well in hospital.(Aylon & Azrin,1968,cited in Eysenck 2009).

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Social Learning

The social learning theory proposed by Albert Bandura (1965), has become the most influential theory of learning and development. Bandura argued that direct reinforcement could not account for all types of learning. He argued that people could learn new information by observing other people this type of learning can be used to explain a wide variety of behaviours.(Cited in Eysenck, M 2009) for example Teenagers wanting to be thin like the models that they observe on the television or on the computer. Bandura (1965) Three groups of young children watched a film about adults behaving aggressively towards inflatable Bobo dolls. In one of the films it showed adults being rewarded for aggressive behaviour. The second group were scolded and the third group were neither rewarded or punished. All children showed increased aggression if offered a reward for what they learnt, and the behaviour decreases if they are punished. (Cited in Gross 2009). for example social learning can be learnt through the media. Pop stars are often seen as role models, and children of smokers are more likely to smoke when they are adults.

Phobic patient benefit more from watching fearful patients gradually overcome their fears. (Cited in Gerry,K.et alt 1996) There are three core concepts in social learning, first learning through observation, mental state is essential part of the process and the theory also recognises that just because something is learnt doesn’t mean it will result in a change in behaviour.(cited in Burns 1995)Positive reinforcement is far more effective than negative reinforcement. Bandura believed that observation and direct reinforcement could account for all types of learning. He argued that emotional behaviour could be switched off through modelling procedure. Learning need not necessarily be correct. Through learning human behaviour can be modified. Learning is very important when working in social care, helpers need to know how to modify client’s attitude toward their illness so the helper can work with them to recover.(cited in Burns 2005)

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Classical Conditioning Essay

It is a continuous challenge living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I’ve suffered from it for most of my life. I can look back now and gently laugh at all the people who thought I had the perfect life. I was young, beautiful, and talented, but unbeknownst to them, I was terrorized by an undiagnosed debilitating mental illness. Having been properly diagnosed with PTSD at age 35, I know that there is not one aspect of my life that has gone untouched by this mental illness. My PTSD was triggered by several traumas, most importantly a sexual attack at knifepoint that left me thinking I would die.

I would never be the same after that attack. For me there was no safe place in the world, not even my home. I went to the police and filed a report. Rape counselors came to see me while I was in the hospital, but I declined their help, convinced that I didn’t need it. This would be the most damaging decision of my life. For months after the attack, I couldn’t close my eyes without envisioning the face of my attacker. I suffered horrific flashbacks and nightmares. For four years after the attack I was unable to sleep alone in my house. I obsessively checked windows, doors, and locks.

By age 17, I’d suffered my first panic attack. Soon I became unable to leave my apartment for weeks at a time, ending my modeling career abruptly. This just became a way of life. Years passed when I had few or no symptoms at all, and I led what I thought was a fairly normal life, just thinking I had a “panic problem. ” Then another traumatic event retriggered the PTSD. It was as if the past had evaporated, and I was back in the place of my attack, only now I had uncontrollable thoughts of someone entering my house and harming my daughter. I saw violent images every time I closed my eyes.

I lost all ability to concentrate or even complete simple tasks. Normally social, I stopped trying to make friends or get involved in my community. I often felt disoriented, forgetting where, or who, I was. I would panic on the freeway and became unable to drive, again ending a career. I felt as if I had completely lost my mind. For a time, I managed to keep it together on the outside, but then I became unable to leave my house again. Around this time I was diagnosed with PTSD. I cannot express to you the enormous relief I felt when I discovered my condition was real and treatable. I felt safe for the first time in 32 years.

Taking medication and undergoing behavioral therapy marked the turning point in my regaining control of my life. I’m rebuilding a satisfying career as an artist, and I am enjoying my life. The world is new to me and not limited by the restrictive vision of anxiety. It amazes me to think back to what my life was like only a year ago, and just how far I’ve come. For me there is no cure, no final healing. But there are things I can do to ensure that I never have to suffer as I did before being diagnosed with PTSD. I’m no longer at the mercy of my disorder, and I would not be here today had I not had the proper diagnosis and treatment.

The most important thing to know is that it’s never too late to seek help. [1] In the early part of the 20th century, Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936) was studying the digestive system of dogs when he noticed an interesting behavioral phenomenon: The dogs began to salivate when the lab technicians who normally fed them entered the room, even though the dogs had not yet received any food. Pavlov realized that the dogs were salivating because they knew that they were about to be fed; the dogs had begun to associate the arrival of the technicians with the food that soon followed their appearance in the room.

With his team of researchers, Pavlov began studying this process in more detail. He conducted a series of experiments in which, over a number of trials, dogs were exposed to a sound immediately before receiving food. He systematically controlled the onset of the sound and the timing of the delivery of the food, and recorded the amount of the dogs’ salivation. Initially the dogs salivated only when they saw or smelled the food, but after several pairings of the sound and the food, the dogs began to salivate as soon as they heard the sound.

The animals had learned to associate the sound with the food that followed. Pavlov identified a fundamental associative learning process called classical conditioning. Classical conditioning refers to learning that occurs when a neutral stimulus (e. g. , a tone) becomes associated with a stimulus (e. g. , food) that naturally produces a specific behavior. After the association is learned, the previously neutral stimulus is sufficient to produce the behavior. As you can see in the following figure, psychologists use specific terms to identify the stimuli and the responses in classical conditioning.

Theunconditioned stimulus (US) is something (such as food) that triggers a natural occurring response, and the unconditioned response (UR) is the naturally occurring response (such as salivation) that follows the unconditioned stimulus. The conditioned stimulus (CS) is a neutral stimulus that, after being repeatedly presented prior to the unconditioned stimulus, evokes a response similar to the response to the unconditioned stimulus. In Pavlov’s experiment, the sound of the tone served as the conditioned stimulus that, after learning, produced the conditioned response (CR), which is the acquired response to the formerly neutral stimulus.

Note that the UR and the CR are the same behavior—in this case salivation—but they are given different names because they are produced by different stimuli (the US and the CS, respectively). Classical Conditioning Before conditioning, the unconditioned stimulus (US) naturally produces the unconditioned response (UR). Top right: Before conditioning, the neutral stimulus (the whistle) does not produce the salivation response. Bottom left: The unconditioned stimulus (US), in this case the food, is repeatedly presented immediately after the neutral stimulus.

Bottom right: After learning, the neutral stimulus (now known as the conditioned stimulus or CS), is sufficient to produce the conditioned responses (CR). From Flat World Knowledge, Introduction to Psychology, v1. 0, CC-BY-NC-SA. Conditioning is evolutionarily beneficial because it allows organisms to develop expectations that help them prepare for both good and bad events. Imagine, for instance, that an animal first smells a new food, eats it, and then gets sick. If the animal can learn to associate the smell (CS) with the food (US), then it will quickly learn that the food creates the negative outcome and will not eat it next time.

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Module 13 /The Persistence and Extinction of Conditioning After he had demonstrated that learning could occur through association, Pavlov moved on to study the variables that influenced the strength and the persistence of conditioning. In some studies, after the conditioning had taken place, Pavlov presented the sound repeatedly but without presenting the food afterward. As you can see, after the initial acquisition (learning) phase in which the conditioning occurred, when the CS was then presented alone, the behavior rapidly decreased—the dogs salivated less and less to the sound, and eventually the sound did not elicit salivation at all.

Extinction is the reduction in responding that occurs when the conditioned stimulus is presented repeatedly without the unconditioned stimulus. Although at the end of the first extinction period the CS was no longer producing salivation, the effects of conditioning had not entirely disappeared. Pavlov found that, after a pause, sounding the tone again elicited salivation, although to a lesser extent than before extinction took place. The increase in responding to the CS following a pause after extinction is known as spontaneous recovery.

When Pavlov again presented the CS alone, the behavior again showed extinction. Although the behavior has disappeared, extinction is never complete. If conditioning is again attempted, the animal will learn the new associations much faster than it did the first time. Pavlov also experimented with presenting new stimuli that were similar, but not identical to, the original conditioned stimulus. For instance, if the dog had been conditioned to being scratched before the food arrived, the stimulus would be changed to being rubbed rather than scratched.

He found that the dogs also salivated upon experiencing the similar stimulus, a process known as generalization. Generalization refers to the tendency to respond to stimuli that resemble the original conditioned stimulus. The ability to generalize has important evolutionary significance. If we eat some red berries and they make us sick, it would be a good idea to think twice before we eat some purple berries. Although the berries are not exactly the same, they nevertheless are similar and may have the same negative properties.

Lewicki [1] conducted research that demonstrated the influence of stimulus generalization and how quickly and easily it can happen. In his experiment, high school students first had a brief interaction with a female experimenter who had short hair and glasses. The study was set up so that the students had to ask the experimenter a question, and (according to random assignment) the experimenter responded either in a negative way or a neutral way toward the students. Then the students were told to go into a second room in which two experimenters were present, and to approach either one of them.

However, the researchers arranged it so that one of the two experimenters looked a lot like the original experimenter, while the other one did not (she had longer hair and no glasses). The students were significantly more likely to avoid the experimenter who looked like the earlier experimenter when that experimenter had been negative to them than when she had treated them more neutrally. The participants showed stimulus generalization such that the new, similar-looking experimenter created the same negative response in the participants as had the experimenter in the prior session.

The flip side of generalization is discrimination—the tendency to respond differently to stimuli that are similar but not identical. Pavlov’s dogs quickly learned, for example, to salivate when they heard the specific tone that had preceded food, but not upon hearing similar tones that had never been associated with food. Discrimination is also useful—if we do try the purple berries, and if they do not make us sick, we will be able to make the distinction in the future. And we can learn that although the two people in our class, Courtney and Sarah, may look a lot alike, they are nevertheless different people with different personalities.

In some cases, an existing conditioned stimulus can serve as an unconditioned stimulus for a pairing with a new conditioned stimulus—a process known as second-order conditioning. In one of Pavlov’s studies, for instance, he first conditioned the dogs to salivate to a sound, and then repeatedly paired a new CS, a black square, with the sound. Eventually he found that the dogs would salivate at the sight of the black square alone, even though it had never been directly associated with the food.

Secondary conditioners in everyday life include our attractions to things that stand for or remind us of something else, such as when we feel good on a Friday because it has become associated with the paycheck that we receive on that day, which itself is a conditioned stimulus for the pleasures that the paycheck buys us. Module 13 /The Role of Nature in Classical Conditioning Scientists associated with the behaviorist school argued that all learning is driven by experience, and that nature plays no role.

Classical conditioning, which is based on learning through experience, represents an example of the importance of the environment. But classical conditioning cannot be understood entirely in terms of experience. Nature also plays a part, as our evolutionary history has made us better able to learn some associations than others. Clinical psychologists make use of classical conditioning to explain the learning of a phobia—a strong and irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation. For example, driving a car is a neutral event that would not normally elicit a fear response in most people.

But if a person were to experience a panic attack in which he suddenly experienced strong negative emotions while driving, he may learn to associate driving with the panic response. The driving has become the CS that now creates the fear response. Psychologists have also discovered that people do not develop phobias to just anything. Although people may in some cases develop a driving phobia, they are more likely to develop phobias toward objects (such as snakes, spiders, heights, and open spaces) that have been dangerous to people in the past.

In modern life, it is rare for humans to be bitten by spiders or snakes, to fall from trees or buildings, or to be attacked by a predator in an open area. Being injured while riding in a car or being cut by a knife are much more likely. But in our evolutionary past, the potential of being bitten by snakes or spiders, falling out of a tree, or being trapped in an open space were important evolutionary concerns, and therefore humans are still evolutionarily prepared to learn these associations over others. [1] [2] Another evolutionarily important type of conditioning is conditioning related to food.

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In his important research on food conditioning, John Garcia and his colleagues [3] [4] attempted to condition rats by presenting either a taste, a sight, or a sound as a neutral stimulus before the rats were given drugs (the US) that made them nauseous. Garcia discovered that taste conditioning was extremely powerful—the rat learned to avoid the taste associated with illness, even if the illness occurred several hours later. But conditioning the behavioral response of nausea to a sight or a sound was much more difficult.

These results contradicted the idea that conditioning occurs entirely as a result of environmental events, such that it would occur equally for any kind of unconditioned stimulus that followed any kind of conditioned stimulus. Rather, Garcia’s research showed that genetics matters—organisms are evolutionarily prepared to learn some associations more easily than others. You can see that the ability to associate smells with illness is an important survival mechanism, allowing the organism to quickly learn to avoid foods that are poisonous.

Classical conditioning has also been used to help explain the experience of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as in the case of P. K. Philips described at the beginning of this module. PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a fearful event, such as the threat of death. [5] PTSD occurs when the individual develops a strong association between the situational factors that surrounded the traumatic event (e. g. , military uniforms or the sounds or smells of war) and the US (the fearful trauma itself).

As a result of the conditioning, being exposed to, or even thinking about the situation in which the trauma occurred (the CS), becomes sufficient to produce the CR of severe anxiety. [6] Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A Case of Classical Conditioning Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) represents a case of classical conditioning to a severe trauma that does not easily become extinct. In this case the original fear response, experienced during combat, has become conditioned to a loud noise. When the person with PTSD hears a loud noise, he or she experiences a fear response despite being far from the site of the original trauma.

From Flat World Knowledge, Introduction to Psychology, v1. 0. © Thinkstock. PTSD develops because the emotions experienced during the event have produced neural activity in the amygdala and created strong conditioned learning. In addition to the strong conditioning that people with PTSD experience, they also show slower extinction in classical conditioning tasks. [7] In short, people with PTSD have developed very strong associations with the events surrounding the trauma and are also slow to show extinction to the conditioned stimulus.

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