What Is Classical Conditioning?
Behaviourism is a movement in psychology which appeared in 1913.
Classical conditioning was based on Pavlov’s observations which was able to explain all aspects of human psychology.
The research showed that speech to emotional responses were patterns of stimulus and response.
Although, Watson denied completely the existence of the mind or consciousness. Watson believed that all individual differences in behaviour were due to different experiences of learning. He famously said:
“Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and the race of his ancestors” (Watson, 1924, p. 104).
Classical conditioning is a theory which involves learning a new behaviours through the process of association. You can do this by using two stimuli and linking them together to produce a newly learned response. It is propose that you could do this whether it is in a person or in an animal. There are three stages of classical conditioning. At each stage the stimuli and responses are given special scientific terms:
Stage 1: Before Conditioning:
In this stage, in an human or animal, the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) produces an unconditioned response (UCR).
In basic terms, this means that a stimulus in the environment has produced a behaviour / response which is unlearned (i.e., unconditioned) and therefore is a natural response which has not been taught. In this respect, no new behaviour has been learned yet.
- A stomach virus (UCS) would produce a response of nausea (UCR).
- A perfume (UCS) could create a response of happiness or desire (UCR).
This stage also involves another stimulus which has no effect on a person and is called the neutral stimulus (NS).
The NS could be a
The neutral stimulus in classical conditioning does not produce a response until it is paired with the unconditioned stimulus.
Stage 2: During Conditioning:
This is a stage when a stimulus produces no response (i.e., neutral).
It is associated with the unconditioned stimulus at which point it now becomes known as the conditioned stimulus (CS).
- A stomach virus (UCS) might be associated with eating a certain food such as chocolate (CS).
- Perfume (UCS) might be associated with a specific person (CS).
This stage is when the UCS must be associated with the CS on a number of occasions, or trials, for learning to take place.
Although, if the occurrence is traumatic, the association would not need to be strengthened over time because the traumatic event is so scary to the person or animal, a similar event will instigate a response, such as ;
- Being sick after food poisoning.
- Drinking too much alcohol.
Stage 3: After Conditioning:
to create a new conditioned response (CR), a conditioned stimulus (CS) has to be associated with the unconditioned stimulus (UCS).
- A person (CS) associated with a nice perfume (UCS) could now found that kind of person attractive (CR).
- Chocolate (CS) eaten prior to a person being sick with a virus (UCS) could produce a response of nausea (CR).
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