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Classical Conditioning in the Behavioural Science Essay Sample 

The following essay sample work shall highlight the classical or respondent conditioning process in behavioural science. It will also explain the principles and phases of the classical conditioning process.

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Classical conditioning is a process that was introduced by a Russian physiologist called Ivan Pavlov. It is a learning process which can influence the psychological behaviour of a person.

This conditioning process occurs only when there is a relationship between the environment and natural occurring stimulus through the associations. The two stimuli are connected to create a learned response in a person or an animal.

The prominent example of the classical conditioning process can be explained with the help of Pavlov’s dog’s experimental theory.

In this Pavlov showed how ringing of the doorbell was a sign that the dogs associated with the presentation of food to them. This experiment explained all aspects of human psychology.

Another psychologist called John Watson believed that every individual has different behaviour from the other people and their behaviour is the result of their different learning experiences in their life.

Every response or behaviour is a result of patterns of stimulus and there is no existence of mind or consciousness. Learning process or conditioning can only shape the behaviour of a person and not his mind.

Classical conditioning is a psychological process that involves a neutral conditioning signal in front of a naturally occurring reflex. Any behaviour is based on the learning interactions with the external environment and its factors are responsible for influencing the behaviour of a person.

Phases of the Classical Conditioning Process 

To understand how classical conditioning process operates one needs to be familiar with the basic principles of this process. Two stimuli are connected to get a particular response through the process of learning.

The following are the 3 phases of the classical conditioning process:-

Phase 1 – Before the Phase of Conditioning 

The first phase of the conditioning process requires natural occurring stimulus with a response. In Pavlov’s experimental theory of dogs, the salvation of dog is a natural response to the smell of the food which is a naturally occurring stimulus.

A neutral stimulus creates no effect and continues to have no effect unless it is connected with the unconditioned stimulus that will result in a conditioned response. The unconditioned stimulus is a natural stimulus that generates a response and is not learned in prior.

In this phase, the unconditioned stimulus is connected with the unconditioned response to create a conditioned response.

Phase 2 – During the Phase of Conditioning 

In the second phase of the classical conditioning process, the neutral stimulus is connected together with the unconditioned stimulus repeatedly.

An association is formed as a result of such a pairing between the neutral stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus. Such a neutral stimulus on pairing can trigger a conditioned response.

For example

In the Pavlov’s experimental theory, Dogs smelled their food and associated with the sound of the door bell with the smell of the food even though both the elements are not directly connected with each other. If the sound of the door bell rings was paired multiple times with smell of the food then ringing of the door bell will cause a conditioned response. Ringing of the door bell is a conditioned stimulus in this case.

Phase 3 – After the Phase of Conditioning 

When the unconditioned stimulus is connected with the conditioned stimulus it would result in a conditioned response which is a learned response to the previously neutral stimulus.

The conditioned response will be dog feeling hungry or salivating in response to the sound of the doorbell.

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Principles of the Classical Conditioning 

We will discuss some of the basic principles of a classical conditioning process that results in the establishment of the response. It also helps in shaping the process of conditioning and behaviour of a person.

(1) Acquisition 

In the process of classical conditioning, a neutral stimulus is connected repeatedly with an unconditioned stimulus. And such an unconditioned stimulus results in an unlearned response as it is not learned.

The behaviour will be in response to a neutral stimulus which turned into a conditioned stimulus. Such a response has been acquired during this process.

(2) Extinction

The extinction occurs only when there is a reduction in the effect of conditioned response or the response itself disappears. Such an extinction occurs as a result of no longer pairing of a conditioned stimulus with an unconditioned stimulus.

(3) Spontaneous Recovery

Spontaneous recovery occurs or there is a reoccurrence of a conditioned response after a certain period of extinction. But if there is a continuous no longer connection between conditioned and unconditioned stimulus then extinction can reoccur even after the spontaneous recovery.

(4) Stimulus Generalisation 

It is the tendency of a conditioned stimulus to give similar responses after the response has been conditioned.

For example

If a dog has been conditioned to salvitate at the sound of the door bell ring. Then the dog will have a similar response to the stimuli that are similar to the conditioned response.

(5) Stimulus Discrimination 

Discriminatory stimulus gives the ability to differentiate between the conditioned stimulus from the other forms of stimuli that have not been paired with an unconditioned stimulus yet.

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The above sample mentions Pavlov’s classical conditioning process and explanation with the help of the dog theory.

Behavioural Studies QQI Level 5, Healthcare QQI Level 5, Applied Psychology QQI Level 5 and Behaviour Management QQI Level 5 and Behavioural Studies Training Course QQI Level 5students can benefit from reading this sample on the behavioural science and process of conditioning.

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