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									CLASSICAL CONDITIONING                                            1




                            Classical conditioning

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                                       Classical conditioning

       The discipline of psychology is made up of numerous schools of thought and systems of

belief. One theory in particular known as behaviorism, maintains the belief that individuals

behave as they do and are able to learn due to their everyday interactions with their surrounding

environment. Those who believe in the theory of behaviorism feel as though there is no need to

search for underlying causes of behavior and that the unconscious mind and subconscious

thoughts have nothing to do with how individuals behave. Behaviorists posit classical

conditioning as the most logical explanation for the ways individuals learn to act and react as

they do.

           Classical conditioning, also known as “Pavlovian conditioning”, is a natural process

which involves several factors referred to as the unconditioned stimulus, unconditioned response,

conditioned stimulus and conditioned response. The unconditioned stimulus or “US”, is an

occurrence which causes an innate, involuntary response or reaction. When someone smells a

favorite food cooking they most oftentimes begin to feel hungry; in this scenario the

unconditioned stimulus, is the aroma of the food. The feeling of hunger in relation to the aroma

of the food is referred to as the unconditioned response or “UR”; once again, the term

unconditioned means that this is a naturally occurring reaction which has not been learned by the

individual who experiences the feelings of hunger.

       A conditioned stimulus in Pavlovian conditioning is an initially neutral stimulus

       that is paired with the unconditioned stimulus. For example, a tone sounded just

       prior to the puff of air being delivered to the cornea of the eye. Without prior

       training, the tone does not elicit an eye blink: however, after a number of tone-
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       puff pairings, the tone alone comes to elicit the blinking response (University of

       Iowa, n.d.).

       Basically; a conditioned stimulus teaches an individual to respond in a way which they

would not normally respond when an otherwise neutral factor is introduced to a naturally

occurring reaction or behavior. The reaction which takes place after an individual is introduced

to a neutral stimulus is referred to as the conditioned response or “CR”. Ivan Pavlov discovered

that dogs could be made to salivate when they heard a particular sound even when no food was

present. By paring the food with a neutral stimulus, Pavlov discovered that when the food was

removed, the dogs continued to present what was initially an unconditioned response; after a

short period of time, the dogs’ salivation became a learned behavior or a conditioned response.

       Classical conditioning can be used in a variety of situations when an undesired behavior

is present which needs to be changed. For instance; a dog may growl or show its teeth when its

owner attempts to take something away from them which they should not have; the dog may

perhaps be chewing on a shoe or have a child’s toy which could potentially cause them harm.

The dog may also exhibit this behavior when its owner or anyone else gets too close to their food

bowl. A person’s natural reaction is to back away from an animal when it is attempting to protect

their territory or claim what is “theirs”, this reaction only reinforces the animal to continue the

behavior because time and time again, it produces the desired results.

       In order to change this behavior classical conditioning can be used in the following

manner;

       1. We toss yummy treats at him while he is eating.

       2. He can eat the treat and go back to his food or toy.
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       3. Once he anticipates our tossing something good by stopping eating and looking

       for the yummy treat, we can begin to train him to briefly “swap” our treat for his

       food. ALWAYS giving the food (or toy) back after he has eaten the treat.

       4. Over time we can exchange our treat for his treat without having to give back

       what we took because we have changed how he feels about his valued resources.

       Now he believes that he can’t lose when humans approach (Ganley, n.d.).

       In conclusion, even though classical conditioning may seem confusing at first, many

people use it in their everyday lives without even realizing it and without having knowledge of

its psychological uses and aspects. In regards to the theory of behaviorism, the belief that

individuals (and animals) learn and react in ways which are caused by their environment, can be

validated with experiments which involve models of classical conditioning.
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                               Dog Growls to protect its

                               possessions




                                                 Give dog a treat to draw it

                                                 away from bowl or object




                                                   Allow dog to return

                                                   to food bowl




                         Offer treat while

                         removing bowl or

                         object




                                                                   Aggressive
                 Dog learns to associate treat
                                                                   behavior is
                 with allowing human to remove
                                                                   eliminated
                 his “possessions”
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                                          References

Ganley, D. (n.d.). Why classical conditioning changes food bowl guarding and growling. Dees

       Dogs. Retrieved November 21, 2010, from

       www.deesdogs.com/documents/classicalconditioningchangesfoodbowl.pdf

University of Iowa. (n.d.). Reflex/Pavlovian conditioning. Department of Psychology - The

       University of Iowa. Retrieved November 21, 2010, from

       http://www.psychology.uiowa.edu/faculty/wasserman/glossary/reflex.html

								
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