Essay, Research Paper: Psychology College Paper


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Classical conditioning and operant conditioning are different learning methods.
The two methods have the word conditioning in common. What is conditioning?
Conditioning is the acquisition of specific patterns of behavior in the presence
of well-defined stimuli. Both classical and operant conditioning are basic forms
of learning. Classical conditioning is a type of learning in which an organism
learns to transfer a natural response from one stimulus to another, previously
neutral stimulus. This is done by manipulating reflexes. Operant conditioning is
a type of learning in which the likelihood of a behavior is increased or
decreased by the use of reinforcement or punishment. Operant conditioning deals
with more cognitive thought process. These two forms of learning have
similarities and differences. Their similarities are that they both produce
basic phenomena. One such phenomenon is acquisition. Both types of conditioning
result in the inheritance of a behavior. One of the most famous of experiments
that illustrates classical conditioning is Pavlov's Dogs. In this experiment,
Pavlov sat behind a one-way mirror and controlled the presentation of a bell.
The bell was the conditioned stimulus. A conditioned stimulus was an originally
neutral stimulus that could eventually produce a desired response when presented
alone. Directly after the ringing of the bell, Pavlov gave the dog food. The
food was the unconditioned stimulus. This means that the food caused an
uncontrollable response whenever it was presented alone. That response would be
the salivation of the dog. A tube that was in the dog's mouth then measured the
saliva. When the unconditioned stimulus (US) was paired with a conditioned
stimulus (CS), it eventually resulted in a conditioned response. Extinction
results if there is a decrease in frequency or strength of a learned response
due to the failure to continue to pair the US and the CS. Extinction can also
occur in operant conditioning. The key to operant conditioning is reinforcement.
Reinforcement is when a stimulus is presented that increases the probability
that the preceding response will recur in the future. If reinforcement is
withheld, extinction will occur in operant conditioning. Another factor that is
involved in conditioning is spontaneous recovery. That is the reappearance of an
extinguished response after the passage of time, without further training. If
Pavlov's dogs did not hear the bell for a few years, and if when they heard it
later they drooled, it would be an example of spontaneous recovery. Something
similar occurs with operant conditioning. If an animal was conditioned to behave
in a certain manor, but then their reinforcement was stopped, that animal may
still have a reaction to the stimulus at a much later date. Organisms that are
being conditioned through operant or classical conditioning can go through
something that is known as stimulus generalization. This is when there is a
transfer of a learned response to different but similar stimuli. An example
would be if one of Pavlov's dogs salivated to the sound of a bell that was
different from the one that they were originally conditioned with. Stimulus
discrimination is another phenomena that occurs with classical and operant
conditioning. Discrimination is when an organism learns to respond to only one
stimulus and inhibit the response to all other stimuli. It is the reverse of
generalization. If an organism hears many different sounds, but is only given
reinforcement for responding to only one of the sounds, it learns to
discriminate between the sounds. Some of the differences between operant and
classical conditioning lie in the extent to which reinforcement depends on the
behavior of the learner. In classical conditioning, the learner is automatically
reinforced. That is how it learns to respond to a once neutral stimulus. In
operant conditioning, the learner must provide a correct response in order to
received the reinforcement. Another difference between the two forms of
conditioning is the type of behavior to which each method applies. Classical
conditioning applies to a behavior that is always wanted. It was Pavlov's
purpose to have the dogs salivate on command. In operant conditioning, a
behavior can be learned or extinguished. If you wanted to train a dog not to do
something, you would use a form of punishment. Classical and operant
conditioning are similar, but they do differ in a few ways. Both are fairly
reliable ways to teach an organism to act in a specific manor.
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