1. Introduction

First of all, this assignment that our group will be doing is related to the behavioral learning theories. The question of this assignment requires us to choose an organization and discuss how the organization will influence the consumer behavior based on classical and operant conditioning and also the reinforcement schedules that will be used by the organization.

The organization that we have chosen to be used in our assignment is the world’s famous fast food restaurant, McDonald’s. On the following section, we will talk on the company background of McDonald’s.

  1. Company Background of McDonald’s Corporation

The business began in 1940, with a restaurant opened by siblings Dick and Mac McDonald in San Bernardino, California. Their introduction of the “Speedee Service System” in 1948 established the principles of the modern fast-food restaurant. The present corporation dates it founding to the opening of a franchised restaurant by Ray Kroc in 1955, the 9th McDonald’s restaurant overall. Kroc later purchased the McDonald brothers’ equity in the company and led its worldwide expansion and the company became listed on the public stock market in 1965 ().

Today, McDonald’s is the world’s leading global foodservice retailer with more than 30,000 local restaurants serving 52 million people in more than 100 countries each day. The nine major markets are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom and United States. It holds a leading share in the globally branded quick service restaurant segment of the informal eating-out market in virtually every country in which we do business ().

McDonald’s primarily sells hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken products, French fries, breakfast items, soft drinks, milkshakes and desserts.

  1. Behavioral Learning Theories

Behavioral learning theories are sometimes referred to as stimulus-response theories because they are based on the premise that observable responses to specific external stimuli signal that learning has taken place.

Behavioral theories are not so much concerned with the process of learning as they are with the inputs and outcomes of learning. That is, in the stimuli that consumer select from the environment and the observable behaviors that result.

Two behavioral theories with great relevance to the marketing are classical conditioning and operant conditioning.

  1. Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning is a type of learning discovered by Ivan Pavlov in which a neutral stimulus comes to bring about a response after it is paired with a stimulus that naturally brings about that response.

The principles of the classical conditioning process


  1. The unconditioned stimulus is one that unconditionally, naturally, and automatically triggers a response.
  2. The unconditioned response is the unlearned response that occurs naturally in response to the unconditioned stimulus.
  3. The conditioned stimulus is previously the neutral stimulus, and after becoming associated with the unconditioned stimulus, eventually comes to trigger a conditioned response.
  4. The conditioned response is the learned response to the previously neutral stimulus.

This is how to process works. First, an unconditioned stimulus is paired with a neutral stimulus. The unconditioned stimulus is the one that is eliciting the unconditioned response. After a while, where this pairing is repeated many times, classical conditioning occurs. Now, the previous unconditioned stimulus is now the conditioned stimulus and can cause a conditioned response by itself. The unconditioned response and the conditioned response are essentially the same thing ().

The Pavlov’s Experiment

(i) Before Conditioning

(ii) During Conditioning

(iii) After Conditioning

Marketers usually use this learning theory when they associate their product with a stimulus which elicits a favourable response with their target market. They hope for a positive attitude towards the product, increasing the chance of purchase by consumers.

For the organization we chosen, McDonald’s, the process of classical conditioning is as follow:

McDonald’s and the Classical Conditioning

2.1.1 The Concepts of Classical Conditioning

So how do classical conditioning works on McDonald’s? We will discuss on two of the concepts of classical conditioning, the repetition and the stimulus generalization.

  1. Repetition

Repetition is where something is played or showed repeatedly for several times. The purpose of showing or playing the particular object repeatedly is to create awareness among consumers and enforce the brand image. When consumers know the existence of the products or services, they will seek for information and may give it a try.

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Therefore, McDonald’s uses repetition in advertising for their products and services available in order to influence consumer behavior and attract consumers to purchase their products. Repetition is able to strengthen the association between a conditioned stimulus (restaurant) and an unconditioned stimulus (food).

Repetition of an advertisement is able to convince consumers, making them more familiar and easier to remember about your products or services.

The common examples of advertising methods that McDonald’s uses to promote their products and services are such as the flyers, TV, online advertising, billboards, bus advertising, radio and newspaper advertising.

(i) Flyers


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