A commonly heard word within psychology is “conditioning”, where does it come from and what does it mean? Conditioning is simply a form of learning, specifically learning through association. Conditioning is used in many experiments as I will discuss later. Classical conditioning was stumbled upon by accident by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov. After he earned his medical degree in 1882 he spent many years studying the digestive system of many animals. By the year 1904 Pavlov had won the Nobel Prize for all of his research in that field.
While studying the digestive system he had a dog strapped down with a harness, and fed it different types of food. While doing this he had a tube that was surgically put into their cheeks to measure the amount of saliva the dog had released. After repeating this process a couple of times he ran into what he called a problem, the dog would salivate at just the site of the food, and eventually the dish the food came in and even the sound of footsteps walking towards him. Pavlov, trying to get around this problem tried to sneak up on the dog, but to no avail. Later Pavlov realized he stumbled upon a form of learning now known as classical conditioning, and devoted the rest of his life to studying it.
To study his new, so called “problem” he had to have a system set up in which he would feed the dog. Often he used a dry meat powder, this powder would automatically cause the dog to salivate. The automatic response to food is known as the unconditioned response, it is known as this because the response does not have to be taught, hence the term unconditioned. The food in this example is known as the unconditioned stimulus, what stimulated the salivation was the food. After Pavlov took notice of all of this he wanted to see if the dog can be conditioned (trained) to respond to an unnatural stimulus, unnatural, being one that would not have an automatic reaction to the stimulus. To examine this Pavlov rang a bell prior to giving the dog the unconditioned stimulus (food). After numerous repetitions of this order the dog began to salivate to a bell alone without any food in front of it. This, the bell is known as a conditioned stimulus because it would not ordinarily warrant such a response. The salivation to the conditioned stimulus is known as a conditioned response. Later the stimulus ...
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...tioned responses are if someone hits your kneecap you will automatically jerk your leg. If somebody were to blow into your eye you will blink, these are two examples of responses that you simply do not have to learn.
On the other hand there are cases in which you respond the way you do only because you have been conditioned to do so. An example of this that I have found true in my life is, if I simply see a package for something that is sour in taste I begin to salivate. The reason for this is I have eaten it in the past and have salivated while eating it and conditioned myself to the packaging. Another example of this is when somebody sees a police car in his rear view mirror with its lights flashing, fear kicks in because in the past he has received a ticket after seeing the same. If a particularly happy moment, for example proposal of marriage took place at a beach, then the beach no matter where, would probably bring happiness to this person.
I believe there are many more examples of conditioned responses within our daily life, and I have only mentioned just a few. In my opinion the theory is in fact a true theory, simply because it is in front of our faces day to day.