Operant Conditioning Theory

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Classical and Operant Conditioning are theories in the field of Psychology that focus on learning. Research for these theories is conducted in laboratories and can involve both human and non-human participants. In this essay I will discuss the contributions of Classical and Operant Conditioning studies to the field of Psychology. I will begin with Classical Conditioning. Classical Conditioning is a principle developed by Ivan Pavlov that refers to learning through association, for example if you’re hungry and smell your favourite food you are likely to salivate (Martin, Carlson, and Buskist, W. 2013). This theory focuses on involuntary or automatic responses for example salivating or blinking. In 1906 Pavlov presented findings for an experiment…show more content…
Pavlov theory highlighted how learning can take place through association. The dog learning to salivate to the sound of a bell even though food was not present is evidence of this association. Secondly how Pavlov conducted the experiment can also be interpreted as a contribution to psychology as it was conducted using scientific measures and the analysis was objective. Pavlov did not make subjective judgements as about the dogs salivating; instead he carefully measured the amount of saliva the dogs secreted in cubic centimetres. This was a positive for Psychology as it added to the argument that Psychology should be considered a science. Additionally this was a positive for future Psychologists as they were able to replicate Pavlov’s…show more content…
B. Watson who took Pavlov’s theory a step further and applied it to humans. The case study involving an infant named Albert is controversial; however in the context of behaviour shaping it is a ground breaking experiment. Concerning the study with Albert, Watson set out with a clear intention to conditioning fear of a particular stimulus, in this case a white rat, in the child. Watson applied the principles of classical conditioning where he paired a neutral stimulus (rat) and an unconditioned stimulus (a loud band) to establish a conditioned response (fear) in Albert. This case study was a step in a positive direction for psychology, particularly the field of behaviourism because the evidence provided demonstrated how phobias can be learnt through the process of Classical Conditioning. Classical Conditioning principles has been applies to many forms of treatment, one being anti-phobia treatments. One of the main principles in Conditioned learning is extinction. This principle implies that a conditions response will decrease in intensity if the conditioned stimulus is repeated without the unconditioned stimulus. In other words it is possible to decrease the intensity of a phobia in an

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