Classical Conditioning. Ideas of conditioning, which involves associations between environmental stimuli and responses, began with the ancient philosophers.
Ideas of conditioning, which involves associations between environmental stimuli and responses, began with the ancient philosophers.
However, it was the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov who would accidently explain classical conditioning while study the digestion of dogs. His work provided a basis for later behaviorists like John Watson and B. F. Skinner.
Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)
Food (Unconditioned Stimulus, US) naturally produces salivation (Unconditioned Response, UR). However, the tone (neutral stimulus) does not naturally produce salivation.
During conditioning, the neutral stimulus (tone) and the unconditioned stimulus (food) are paired, resulting in the unconditioned response (salivation).
After conditioning, the neutral stimulus (tone) now becomes the Conditioned Stimulus, CS. The CS elicits Conditioned Response, CR (Salivation)
Even humans can develop classically to conditioned nausea.
Watson used classical conditioning procedures to develop advertising campaigns for a number of organizations, including Maxwell House, making the “coffee break” an American custom. He is most famous for his experiments with “Little Albert.” By today’s standard such experiments would be ethically troublesome.
John B. Watson
The Troublesome Shower
Martin Likes to take a shower in the men’s locker room after working out. During one such shower, he hears someone flushing a nearby toilet. Suddenly, boiling hot water rushes out of the shower head, causing Martin to jump out of the water. As he continues to shower, he hears another toilet flush and immediately jumps out from under the shower head.
The Water Show
Jeanette was happy when she heard about her family’s plan to go to a water sports show. Then she heard the weather report, which predicted temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. Jeanette suspected that the weather would be hard to bear, but she went to the show. As she watched the water skiers perform taxing routines to the organ music, she got more and more sweaty and uncomfortable. Eventually, she fainted from the heat. After the family outing, Jeanette could never again hear organ music without feeling dizzy.
The Trouble with Tuna
Brian was really looking forward to lunch. His mother had prepared a tuna salad sandwich. Unfortunately the mayonnaise she used had been left out too long and had gone bad. Not long after eating, Brian felt extremely nauseated and had to rush to the bathroom. Thereafter, the mere mention of a tuna sandwich would send Brian scurrying to the bathroom with a rolling stomach.
Pavlov and Watson believed that laws of learning were similar for all animals. Therefore, a pigeon and a person do not differ in their learning.
However, behaviorists later suggested that learning is constrained by an animal’s biology.