Pavlov’s experiment has been used as an example of classical conditioning for many years.
It was first published in 1914 and it was based on the idea that a conditioned stimulus can evoke a conditioned response.
In his experiment, Pavlov noticed that dogs began to salivate when they heard a bell ring. He repeated this process over several days until eventually, he could make the dog salivate by simply ringing the bell without presenting food. (see infogram).
This is an example of classical conditioning because the association between food and sound had been made in such a way that it became innate in the mind of the dog so that even without being presented with actual food they would still expect something as soon as they heard a sound associated with eating.
Classical conditioning can also occur due to the natural reaction of the body. If you have a medical condition or are on medication, this can cause your heart rate to increase. If a physician then gives you an injection for pain relief, the sound of their voice could be enough to trigger this response because your brain links it with the feeling of relief from pain. This is known as secondary reinforcement and often occurs when we’re not aware that we’re being conditioned at all (or conditioned by something other than what we might expect).
Conditioning will only take place if certain conditions are met.
- The conditioning must be immediate, or the association between the conditioned stimulus and the unconditioned response will not be made.
- The pairing must be repeated many times so that it becomes ingrained in the organism’s memory. If you try to condition a dog by pairing a bell with meat once, you’ll have very little luck!
- The unconditioned stimulus must be strong enough to evoke a response from your organism when exposed on its own—a fire alarm wouldn’t make much sense if it didn’t alert anyone with its noise! On the other hand, something like hot chocolate may not elicit too much of a reaction without something else like milk (the conditioned stimulus) added into the mix—but add milk and voila: hot chocolate becomes delicious again!
- Finally, it should go without saying that both stimuli must occur on their own separate occasions before they can ever become associated together; otherwise there would never be any way for them to become linked up in our minds at all
Learning is something that happens in the brain and it occurs without us being aware of it.
The learning process can be seen in the behaviour of an individual – for example, a child who has been conditioned to fear rain will avoid going outside when there are dark clouds in the sky. The child may not know why they avoid going outside on rainy days but they do so anyway.
This type of learning has taken place without any conscious thought from the child – he/she simply knows that rain means staying inside!
Conditioning techniques are often used to alter behaviour.
When I was operating in a sales function, we were rewarded through commission and similarly felt uncomfortable when targets were missed. Many methods exist for positive reinforcement such as expressions of gratitude and appreciation.
Conditioning occurs naturally within us too. For example, if you have ever had food poisoning after eating at a particular restaurant then chances are you will avoid going back there again! This is because the smell and appearance of food which caused you to feel unwell acts as a reminder of why it was bad for your health; thus leading you away from trying anything similar again!
A big subject, but with a simple take out. If we create a reaction, then if our action continues to gain that reaction, the outcome will be reinforced.