Compare and contrast Classical and Operant Conditioning. Are

Length: 7 Pages 1734 Words

In order to examine classical and operant conditioning, it necessary to first define the subject from which they are derived, that is learning. “Learning is any relatively permanent change in behaviour produced by an experience.” Classical and Operant conditioning are two of several theories on learning which take the behaviourist approach. “Classical conditioning is an association of one event with another that results in a pattern of behaviour.” Operant conditioning however, is “learning that takes place as a consequence of behaviour.” This essay will attempt to examine the differences and similarities between classical and operant conditioning, and thereafter, will examine situation where neither classical nor operant conditioning are present. Classical conditioning is most commonly associated with Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936). It was during his research on digestion in dogs that his discoveries led him to investigate a dog’s tendency to salivate in response to a stimulus, a reflex action that was involuntary. Pavlov rang a bell (conditioned stimulus) each time the dog was offered food (unconditioned stimulus). The dog gradually began to associate the ringing of the bell with the food, and so Continue...


Skinner showed that by identifying responses and rewards then it is possible to produce model chains of behaviour. The ideas of these psychologists were based on the concept that not all our learning is as a result of conditioning, but that we often learn by observing the behaviour of others. And so in conclusion, there are indeed many types of learning as examined, but it is important to note that this essay only touched upon a few. with the Skinner Box pressing bar and food is delivered (a reward is presented). This refers to the ability distinguish between different stimuli and learn when it is suitable to respond to the correct stimuli. Skinner who developed Thorndike's law of effect. Perceptual learning occurs where "the subjects perceptual performance in three-dimensional object recognition is modified merely as a result of practice or exposure to the stimuli. And so, it is indeed evident that there are many different forms of learning, all of which have relevance in the world today. And there are indeed more forms of cognitive learning where no elements operant or classical conditioning is present such as latent learning. Although the behaviour becomes extinct, research illustrates that is not necessarily completely forgotten, for responses sometimes reappear after extinction. Other forms of learning that do contain elements of conditioning include programmed learning (which incorporates linear programming and branching) and behaviour modification. We don't take heed of our actions as our behaviour has been conditioned. For example, with the case of the horrific murder of James Bulger almost ten years ago in 1993, it was revealed in court that his death was as a result of his murderers having previously watched explicit horror videos. Wingfield suggests, "Relearning after extinction can be accomplished at a more rapid rate than was initially required.