Classical Conditioning

Notes on pavlov's dogs study and classical conditioning

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Classical conditioning is a form of learning through association. A conditional unrelated stimulus, is
provided at the same time as an unconditional stimulus which gives a desired effect. (the unconditional
response). After a few times the conditional stimulus alone will give the unconditional response.
Definition: A form of learning in which an automatic response becomes associated with a previously
unrelated stimulus.
Key Study: A study that looked into and supports the theory of classical conditioning is Pavlov's Dogs.
Pavlov's Dogs.
The aim of this study was originally to study digestion in dogs, he did not intend to study
conditioning.
He presented food in a bowl to a dog several times, until eventually the dog salivated when the empty
bowl was presented. It had been conditioned to salivate to the bowl not just the food. Pavlov decided
to further his research by ringing a bell at the same time as presenting some food.
After a while the dogs salivated in response to the bell.
The dogs associated the bell with food so they salivated. Normally a dog would not salivate to a bowl
or a bell, but the dogs associated these stimuli with food so they gave that response.
Evaluation:
This study was carried out on animals so we cannot be sure if the same applies to humans.
The researcher has control over all variables as it is a lab experiment. So it is easy to repeat exactly
each time which means that it is reliable.
Low ecological validity as the dogs weren't in their natural environment.
No demand characteristics as they are dogs.

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