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Classical conditioning in human behaviour.

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CLASSICAL CONDITIONING OF HUMAN BEHAVIOUR INTRODUCTION The theory of classical conditioning (also called Pavlovian conditioning) is accepted worldwide and has remained virtually unchanged since its conception of Pavlov's work. It is used to explain and interpret a wide range of human behaviour, such as where phobias come from, why we dislike certain foods, the source of our emotions, how advertising works, why we feel nervous before a job interview and before an exam and what arouses us sexually. PAVLOV Ivan Pavlov, the famous Russian physiologist, discovered these important relationships around the turn of the century. He created the first learning theory, which precedes the reinforcement theory. In his experiment with dogs, he discovered the process of reflex learning (Classical conditioning). That an unconditioned stimulus (food) which produces an unconditioned response (salivation) is presented together with a conditioned stimulus (bell), so that the salivation is eventually produced on the conditioned stimulus (bell) alone, thus becoming a conditioned response. Stage 1 (Before learning) Food (UCS) = Salivation (UCR) A bell does NOT produce salivation Stage 2 (During learning) Bell (CS) + Food (UCS) = Salivation (CR) Stage 3 (After learning) Bell (CS) ...read more.


When Albert was just over eleven months old, the rat and the UCS were presented together; this occurred seven times altogether over the next seven weeks, by which time the rat (CS) on its own came to produce the fear response (now a CR). The CR transferred spontaneously to the rabbit, the dog, a sealskin fur coat, cotton wool, Watson's hair and a Santa Claus mask, but it did not generalize to Albert's building blocks or to the hair of two observers (i.e. Albert showed discrimination). Five days after conditioning, the CR produced by the rat persisted; ten days after conditioning it was 'much less marked' but one month after conditioning it was still evident. Whether Watson and Rayner had intended to remove the CR is not known - Albert's mother removed him from the hospital. (GROSS R, 1996, Psychology The science of mind and behaviour). Watson and Rayner could have attempted to remove little Albert's fear by using the method of direct unconditioning employed by Jones (1924) to treat little Peter. Little Peter had a fear of animals, therefore an experiment was conducted in order that he become unconditioned to his fear, thus loose his phobia. ...read more.


Amounting in effect to a focus on learning. The key form of learning is conditioning, either classical (Pavlovian), which is the basis of Watson's behaviourism, or Operant, which is at the centre of Skinner's. There is little difference between animals and humans when it comes to learning, therefore research can be carried out on both. Skinner proposed that they way humans learn superstitious behaviour is much the same way as animals. Skinner (1904) demonstrated this when he conducted a study on pigeons. Classical conditioning says nothing about rewards and punishments, which are key terms in reinforcement theory (Operant conditioning). There is nothing indicated here about rewards or punishment. Classical conditioning is built on creating relationships by association over trials. Some people confuse Classical conditioning with Reinforcement theory. CONCLUSION Human fears may often be maintained through avoiding the object of our fears, in that we do not give the fear a chance to undergo extinction. For example, if you have a fear of spiders you may avoid locations where they might be or if you have a fear of heights you would avoid being high up at all costs. Classical conditioning focuses on behaviour that is not under our voluntary control (reflexive behaviour). Any reflex can be conditioned to occur to a previous neutral stimulus. ...read more.

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