Classical Conditioning Pavlov’s Dog (Animals) Little Albert (Humans)
Key Terms • Unconditional Stimulus • Unconditioned Response • Conditioned Stimulus • Conditioned Response
Pavlov’s Findings • Pavlov found that for the association between the two stimuli to be learned, they had to be presented close together. The association forms best when the two stimuli are presented at the same time. • Pavlov found: • When there is a long gap between the two stimuli, the association between the two is not learned
If the bell (conditioned stimulus) is repeatedly sounded without the food, salivation (conditioned response) slowly disappears. The behaviour is extinguished. • The conditioned stimulus (the bell) could be changed in tone and volume and still elicit the conditioned response of salivation. This is called stimulus generalisation. A point is reached when the sound of the bell is so different that the conditioned response does not happen. This is called stimulus discrimination.
If the conditioned response had been extinguished, then at a later time the dog would sometimes salivate at the sound of the bell. This is called spontaneous recovery of the conditioned behaviour. • Classical Conditioning can be used to understand how emotional responses may be learned. (see Little Albert experiment)
Watson and Rayner (1920) • A little boy of ninth months was used to condition a fear of white rats which led to a phobia. • Little Albert did not show a fear of white rats. Watson and Rayner had discovered that Little Albert showed fear when a hammer struck a metal bar behind his back.
Following this, they placed a white rat in front of Little Albert, and at the same time made the loud noise with the metal bar. • After a short number of pairings, Little Albert showed fear by crying and moving away from the rat. • Little Albert then developed a phobia for white rats and more generally small furry white objects. • Watson and Rayner concluded that classical conditioning causes strong emptional behaviour.
Treatment • Classical Conditioning can be used in the treatment of phobias by a technique called systematic desensitisation. To extinguish an irrational fear, the person has to confront the stimulus that causes the fear. • If a person had a fear of spiders, the psychologist might first relax the person and then show them a picture of a spider. Then they would be exposed to a toy spider. This would build slowly to a real spider in a jar