Approaches to Individual Learning & Behaviour

Classical conditioning

Classical conditioning is a type of conditioning in which an individual responds to some stimulus that would not ordinarily produce such as response.

It is the process of learning to associate a particular thing in our environment with a prediction of what will happen next.

Classical conditioning, the association of such an event with another desired event resulting in behavior, is one of the easiest to understand processes of learning.

When we think of the classical conditioning, the first name that comes to our mind is Ivan Pavlov, the Russian psychologist.

The normal stimulus for a flow of saliva is the taste of food. But often the mouth waters at the mere sight of luscious peach, on hearing it described or even thinking about it. Thus, one situation is substituted for another to elicit behavior.

This is called conditioning. In the case of classical conditioning, a simple surgical procedure allowed Pavlov to measure accurately the amount of saliva secreted by a dog.

When Pavlov presented one dog with a piece of meat, the dog exhibited a noticeable increase in salivation. When Pavlov withheld the presentation of meat and merely rang a bell, the dog did not salivate.

Then Pavlov proceeded to link the meat and the ringing of the bell. After repeatedly hearing the bell before getting the food, the dog began to salivate as soon as the bell rang. After a while, the dog would salivate merely at the sound of the bell, even if no food was offered.

In classical conditioning, learning involves a conditioned stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus. Here, the meat was unconditioned stimulus; it invariably caused the dog to react in a specific way.

The reaction that took place whenever the unconditioned stimulus occurred was called the unconditioned response. Here, the bell was a conditioned stimulus.

When the bell was paired with the meat, it eventually produced a response when presented alone. This is a conditioned response.

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Organizational Behavior by Icfai Business School is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.