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  • Created on: 06-06-16 22:31

Classical conditioning

Classical conditioning is a procedure during which an animal or person learns to associate a reflex response with a new stimulus


Pavlov conducted experiments and research on classical conditioning, through the use of a dog. Pavlov had noticed that his dog would salivate when given food, therefore, he attempted to condition his dog to salivate at the sound of a bell. The classical conditioning schedule was as follows:

1. When given food, the dog would salivate (UCS=UCR)

2. When ringing a bell alongside giving the dog food, the dog would salivate (CS+UCS=UCR)

3. Now, when ringing a bell, the dog would salivate (CS=CR)



Unconditioned stimulus- the stimulus that produces a reflex response

Unconditioned response- reflex response to a UCS

Conditioned stimulus- a new stimulus presented with the UCS

Conditioned response- a response that is learnt and occurs when the conditioned stimulus is presented

After this, Pavlov continued to experiment on the dog and found out some extra information:

1. If he continued to ring the bell without giving the dog any food, extinction would occur (extinction is when a conditioned response, i.e. the salvation, dies out)

2. After a short period in which the bell was not rung, the dog would begin to salivate to the sound of a bell again, this is called spontaneous recovery (spontaneous recovery is when a conditioned response that has dissappeared suddenly appears again)

3. Despite changing the tone of the bell, generalisation occured (generalisation is when a conditioned response is produced when a similar stimulus to the original is presented).

4. When the dog only recieved food upon the sound of a particular tone of bell, it would only react to that tone of bell, this is called discrimination (discrimination is when a conditioned stimulus is only produced when similar stimulus to the original is presented)

Watson and Rayner

AIM: To see if the emotional response of fear could be conditioned into a human being

METHOD: Albert was 11 months old. He seemed to like a white laboratory rat, and had no fear ofn any white, furry objects. In the conditioning trials, a rat was shown to Albert and as he reached for it, a metal bar was hit very hard with a hammer, behind Albert's back. This was done several times.

RESULTS: After seven times, when the rat was presented again, Albert screamed and tried to get away. He did this even though the bar was not hit by the hammer and there was no loud noise. Albert also screamed when he was shown a santa claus mask and a fur coat.

CONCLUSION: Watson and Rayner showed that fear responses can be learnt and even very young children can learn in the way suggested by classical conditioning

Practical applications

In everyday life, advertising agencies recognise that if they can get us to build up a


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