Pavlov (1927) - Background

  • Gave lectures on many experiments with dogs
  • Set out idea of reflexes and links them to the cerebal cortex where he believed reflex paths were already present and where new associations were made
  • He used dogs and showed how when one is presented with meat it salivates, the dog then gains a conditioned stimulus where being presented with meat triggers salivation without needing thought and so it is a reflex
  • Also pointed out that something else can be associated with the condition stimulus and this will also cause the same response in this case salivation and is known as secondary conditioning.
  • Acknowledged the process of extinction where the condition stimulus/response etc. can be lost.
  • He also talked about other varibles that could affect the dog after the conditioning process and if it is not alert or is different condition it may nottake place at all or will in a different way.
  • He uses scientific method and proper controls as he argues other stimuli can affect responses.
  • He also uses evolutionary ideas to justify that the results can be generalised from dogs to humans.
  • He used dogs because they have hgher order thinking but can be properly managed in terms of controls.
  • He choose salivation as it is easy to measure in terms of it whether it has worked.
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Pavlov (1927) - Aims, Variables and Experiment Des

  • To see if reflexive behavior can be produced in an artifical situation and in particular to see if associatingh a reflex witha natural stimulus will cause learning to take place, creating a conditioned reflex.
  • IV - There are two conditions, the first is the dogs natural reflexive behaviour: when the food is in their mouths, the other condition is the dogs behaviour after they have been conditoned to associate food with a different stimulus.
  • DV - How many drops of saliva were produced.
  • The experiment was a repeted measures design.
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  • 35 dogs all raised in lab kennels.
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  • The dogs were all placed in a sealed room, not allowed to smell or hear anything outside the room, this was done to eliminate any extraneous varibles from interfearing with the experiment.
  • They were placed in a special harness which kept them form moving and its mouth had a tube placed into it which would allow for them to measure the amount of saliva produced.
  • In the control condition the dog was presented with meat powder and the dog salivated.
  • In the experimental condition the dog was presented with the netural stimulus which they did not react to demonstrating that it was a netural stimulus,the netural stimulus were things like buzzers, metronome and a tuning fork.
  • To get the conditioning to stick he did the process of pairing the sound to the food about 20 times but depended on how attentive the dog was.
  • After it was conditioned it was only presented with the sound.
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  • Found the conditioned dogs started salivating after 9 seconds and by 45 seconds the dogs had produced 11 drops of savlia.
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  • Had discovered Classical Conditioning.
  • The netural stimulus becomes paired with an unonditioned stimulus to become an conditioned stimulus causing a conditioned response in this case it is the sound being paired with the meat to trigger salivation.
  • He explained that the brain learns to see the new sound as a trigger for the same response and this is how animals survive in the real world as they learn to apply their reflexes to new situations based on older ones,
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Evaluating Pavlov - Strengths

  • G
  • Pavlov used the theory of evolution to say that it was correct to generalise as it shows that humans would also learn through association or as he puts it signalisation hich can be shown by the fact aversion therepy has worked in the past for alcholics.
  • Other stimulus like money etc. can be used to condition people instead.
  • R
  • He did many tests using dogs with the same or similar procedure, this shows good reliability as well as good inter rater reliability as he got other researcher s to examine his reults and to the tests. It also increases the test-retest reliability.
  • A
  • Pavlovs test has inspired other researchers like John Watson who conducted the little Albert test as well as some aspects of Skinner who went on to promote the idea of Behaviourism.
  • Behaviourism is the idea that human behavior should be studied objectively like Pavlov did instead of subjective thoughts and feelings.
  • The develpment of the theory of classical conditioning has lead to things like aversion therepy which can be used to help treat alcholics.
  • V
  • Pavlov used well controlled setting  whoch makes his results objective and credible, this is because he took the precaution to ensure no other stimulus was avaliable to be responsible for casuing the dog to salivate.
  • E
  • Research into classial conditioning was not the main reason Pavlov had the dogs, he started of looking into the digestion system which is actually why he won the Nobel prize. His research has lead to mediacl and dietary benifits for millions of humans and dogs which is said to outweigh the cost of the research.
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Evaluating Pavlov - Weaknesses

  • G
  • The main issue is wether it is feasible to generalise his reults from humans to dogs
  • Humans brains are more complex and involve much more higher order thinking meaning food does not always motivate us.
  • A
  •  Aversion therepy is not always succesful in the case of using it to treat homosexuals.
  • V
  • There was low ecological validity as the situation is very artifical and would not occur in reaal life as the dogs were seperated from all other dogs and humjans and a drip feed was attached to theri mouth.
  • He also used 20 pairings to ensure a quick conditioned response but in real life it may occur in a quicker fashion. 
  • E
  • The research carried out Pavlov  would be impossible to do today as we now have ethical guidelines on how to treat both animal and human pps.
  • He sealed the dogs up, tied them in to harnesses and subjected them to needless surgery.
  • The reasearch into orpaned children carried out by ​Krasnagorsky inspired by, a student of and condoned by Pavlov is much harder to jusify.
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