Classical and Operant Conditioning
There are many differences between classical and operant conditioning. One is the extent to which reinforcement depends on the behavior of the learner. In classical conditioning the response is a natural reaction that the subject cannot avoid. They can be conditioned at any time for that reason. It relies on reflex, to which we have no volitional control. An example of this is when I ate lots of coconut in second grade and got sick. Now I cannot eat coconut any more without feeling sick. Operant conditioning requires the subject to choose a specific response before it can be conditioned. For example, if a dog gets a treat when it jumps up on a stool, it will continue this behavior to get treats. However, the dog would not know this until he jumps onto the stool for the first time.
Another main difference between classical and operant conditioning is the type of behavior to which each method applies.
The behavior that is optimal for classical conditioning is an unconditional response that occurs naturally in reaction to can unconditioned stimulus. This is why classical conditioning can occur at any time, rather than relying on the subject to commit a certain action. An example of this is when someone goes into a doctor's office and gets a hurtful shot. The natural response to the natural stimulus (the shot) is pain. This is now associated with the doctors office. The person has been classically conditioned to dislike the doctor's office, without actively doing anything to warrant it. This is why classical conditioning is out of our control. Operant conditioning requires a random behavior to be committed before it can be reinforced. It can also apply to many more behaviors than classical conditioning can. Anyone can be rewarded for a...