Classical and Operant Conditioning

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There are two main explanations of how organisms learn. The

first explanation is known as classical conditioning. The second

explanation is known as operant conditioning. These two types of

learning are exhibited in our everyday lives through our home,

school, and school.

Classical conditioning was discovered by Iran Petrovich

Pavlov. He was originally a physiologist whose main focus was

the digestive system (Gazzaniga 230). His discovery was made

during a study on the salivation of dogs when given food. Pavlov

observed that the dogs began salivating at the sound of the

scientists footsteps and at their appearance into the room (231).

This led Pavlov to study the phenomenon further.

The experiments that Pavlov was originally observing were

based on the set of unconditioned stimulus and its unconditioned

response. What is meant by conditioned is that the response is

automatic and based on instinct. To compliment this name the

stimulus is known as the unconditioned stimulus (Myers 260).

With Pavlov's new observations a new set of stimulus and response

was found. This new set is known as the conditioned stimulus and

the conditioned response. What is meant by conditioned response

here is that the response was learned. The stimulus begins as

neutral and causes no conditioned response. However, if the

neutral stimulus can be associated with another stimulus, then it

becomes a conditioned stimulus.

Classical conditioning can be exemplified in the home,

school, and school. In the home a child could smell brownies

baking in the kitchen which makes her mouth water. The brownies

are the unconditioned stimulus, the smell is the conditioned

stimulus, and the watering of the mouth is the conditioned

response (Myers 267-68). In work a man may be waiting to be

fired. When he sees his boss he begins to sweat. The

unconditioned stimulus is getting fired,