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Briefly describe the processes of classical conditioning. What are the main implications for the explanation and control of human behaviour?

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Introduction

Kathryn Perkin First year psychology essay, Semester one David Spicer group 1 Briefly describe the processes of classical conditioning. What are the main implications for the explanation and control of human behaviour? I. P. Pavlov (1902-1928) discovered classical conditioning whilst he was actually investigating the gastro - intestinal system of dogs. He realised that events that had previously had no effect or relationship to a certain reflex on a dog through time and training could trigger a reflex. This is the basis of classical conditioning. There are four main elements of classical conditioning. These are: -Unconditioned Stimulus -Unconditioned Response -Conditioned Stimulus -Conditioned Response An unconditioned Stimulus is a natural stimulus, which causes the natural unconditioned response. Then as I just explained there are conditioned stimuli which in time and learning causes conditioned responses. This can be explained simply as follows. When a dog eats it salivates. The eating of the food is the unconditioned stimulus and the salivating is the unconditioned response. If you then ring a bell every time you give the dog food it will begin to learn that the bell means food (conditional stimulus) and will salivate at the sound of the bell and the giving of the food (conditioned response). ...read more.

Middle

This can be easily explained again using the example of the dog. The dog treads on the lever - Response - which then gives him access to his food - unconditioned stimulus - which then causes him to salivate - unconditioned response. These two theories are actually quite different because of the key principle in Thorndike's operant theory - the relationship between Response and unconditioned Stimulus whereas in classic conditioning it is the relationship between conditioned Stimulus and the unconditioned Stimulus that is essential. Classic conditioning is a way of controlling and effecting human behaviour. There are many ways in which this can be achieved. One of them is the conditioning and de-conditioning of emotional responses as seen in the case of the Albert and the white rat (Watson Rayner 1920). Conditioned fear can also happen in animals as well as humans and can explain some psychological conditions present in humans. Conditioned fear can be best explained using the case of a rat. An experiment was performed with a rat. Before the experiment begins the rat is conditionally trained that when a light flashes he receives a large electric shock. If the rat was hungry and wanted food and knew that to get it he had to press a lever down, he would soon learn to do this. ...read more.

Conclusion

Now the dog doesn't salivate for either picture but is aggravated and barks and is distressed as a way of trying to get away from this problem. If the dog is then at this point shown the original pictures he is unable to tell the difference and in effect has broken down. We don't at present known if experimental neurosis is at all connected to neurosis in humans however it is not impossible that a specific conditioning process could cause human neurosis and cause long-term behaviour effects as it can in animals. This all shows that conditioning is a very important process and that it can affect human behaviour in a good way by helping you overcome a problem by the process of de-conditioning. However it also shows that these problems might never have originally occurred if it had not been for a classic conditioning process, which could have occurred earlier in life. It is a useful method in training animals and humans and is often used in teaching young children to speak or to learn by a system of rewards. All this shows the vital importance that classic conditioning has in modern psychology. Sources Barry Schwartz Psychology of learning and behaviour - Third edition Howard Rachlin Introduction to modern behaviourism - Third edition Ann Neel Theories of psychology: A handbook ...read more.

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