Classical Conditioning

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Classical conditioning

Classical condictioning is a theory of learning that examines how a response is associated with a stimulus to cause conditioning. This works by building up an association between to stimuli. One, called the neutral stimulus, is something in the environment which does not initially cause a response. The other is an existing unconditioned stimuluswhich does not produce an effect. Examples are blinking to a puff of air, knee-jerking to a tap on the correct part of the knee, sneezing to a certain stimuli, and showing a startle response (fear) to a noise.

The Basic Idea:

Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS) = Unconditioned Response (UCR)

Unconditioned Stimulus + Conditioned Stimulus (CS) = Unconditioned Response (UCR)

Conditional Stimulus (CS) = Conditioned Response

The two stimuli are repeatedly presented to the subject at the same time until the previous neutral stimulus acquires the same effect as the unconditioned stimulus. This is now known as a conditioned response and the trigger a conditioned stimulus.

Pavlov (1927) went on to demonstrate classical conditioning in his dogs. He used various sounds, such as a bell, as the neutral stimulus and a bowl of meat as the unconditioned stimulus. Prior to the experiment, the dogs would salvate in response to the meat but not the sound. During the conditioning phase the meat was presented at the same time as the bell. Repeated pairings of meat and bell resulted in conditioning; the dogs would salvate to the sound alone. As a result of the pairings, the neutral stimulus had become a conditioned stimulus capable of producing the behaviour in a new situation.

Before conditioning:

Bell (NS)  =  No Response

Meat (UCS)  =  Salvation (UCR)

During conditioning:

Meat + Bell = Salvation

After conditioning:

Bell = Salvation

Explanantions for classical conditioning

Pavlov suggested the stimulus-substitution theory, which means that the…


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