Classical Conditioning




Createdby Petrovich Pavlor, is a theory that wasbased on investigations and observations on dogs. In simple words,classical conditioning is a theory used to disclose how somebehaviors in people are learned. The theory also offers a possiblesolution to change an earlier learned behavior change or modify thatbehavior. The theory also helps develop new behaviorslike pottytraining or teaching a dog new tricks. In the real essence, classicalconditioning as completely changed the way science viewed behavior.It has proved that any behavior can be modified or changed.

Classicalconditioning consists of unconditioned response (UR), unconditionedstimulus (US) and conditioned stimuli (CS) (Olson &amp Hergenhahn,2009). Once the conditioning becomes successful, a conditionedresponse goes ahead to be formed. An unconditional stimulus causesboth an anatomic or automatic response and a neutral reaction fromthe subject. An unconditioned response or reaction is a neutral orautomatic response that is acquired by unconditional stimulus (Olson&amp Hergenhahn, 2009). Once the unconditional stimulus and neutralstimulus create an unconditioned response, the activity or action isreplicated up until the unconditioned stimulus is removed or takenaway without varying the unconditioned response. Once response isachieved without conditioned stimulus, a conditioned response isformed.

Atypical scenario that can be used to describe the application ofclassical conditioning is potty training of kids. The story thatfollows is of my neighbor Katy, who trained her twins how to use thepotty. Potty training a child is a complicated affair and most timesdifficult. The use of classical conditioning can help a child learnhow to use the toilet, bowel and bladder control. In this case,operant conditioning can also be used. Both conditioningpracticalities can be equally rewarding and assist with modificationof behavior highly needed to potty train children. Operantconditioning can have both positive and negative consequences. If thetoddlers are to get punished for wetting their big girl panties, thenstickers were introduced when the girls have an accident. Thestickers here are the positive aspect being added, and when they aretaken away, it represents the negative. In this case Katy wants toencourage her twins to use the toilet, the stickers won’t be takenaway. Katy believes that charting the events on how the girls areprogressing will encourage them to use the toilet. Eventually, whenthe stickers are taken away combined with positive verbal reassurancethen the girls would continue using the toilet with little to noaccidents eventually. The ultimate goal is to have the girls use thepotty without any need of stimuli.

Coon,Mitterer, Talbot &amp Vanchela (2010), affirm that when a marker isassociated with a delivery of any key enforcer such as food then thatis using classical conditioning. The act of having a bowel movementor peeing on the potty can be identified with the delivery of keyreinforcer, the sticker being issued to the girls at the time ofusing the toilet. The neutral stimulus in this situation is when Katyintroduces the use of big girl panties. Wearing the panties only willnot make the girls not wet themselves and so a stimulus must be addedto the situation in order to change the learned behavior they have ofwetting in their diapers to using a potty. The unconditioned stimulusthat Katy used is stickers. She changed the twins into using pantiesand instructed and showed them where to pee and poop. When the twinsaccidentally pee or poop in their panties, Katy, in a gentle mannerplaces either of them on the potty and explains to them on theimportance of using a potty.

Byremoving the use of diapers in the equation and adding neutralstimulus, then Katy is giving her twins a different sensation. Allalong the diapers kept girls from the feeling of wetness on theirbums but the introduction of panties will allow the twins understandand have the feel of the wetness when they pee on themselves. Theconditioned response which is potty training is the ultimate goal forKaty. To achieve this modification of behavior, Katy made use ofstickers as an unconditional stimulus whenever the girls kept theirpanties dry and made use of the potty. By using stickers, the twinsstarted associating it with using the potty. Eventually, Katy decidedto do away with the stickers and the girls continued using the pottywhile using their panties. Once the girls stayed dry without the useof the stickers ten the conditioned response was formed. This markedthe completion of classical conditioning.

Inconclusion, choosing between classical conditioning and operantconditioning can be difficult. Classical conditioning requires anunconditioned response, unconditioned stimulus and a conditionedresponse in order to come up with a conditioned response (Nicholas,2008). Classical conditioning has proved to be very helpful withmodification of behaviors if only it is used in the right way.Classical conditioning can help condition countless behaviors inpeople’s everyday lives.


Olson,M. H. &amp Hergenhahn, B. R. (2009). An introduction to theories oflearning (8th

ed.).Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Nicholas,L. J. (2008). Introductionto psychology.Cape Town: UCT Press.

Coon,D., Mitterer, J. O., Talbot, S., &amp Vanchella, C. M. (2010).Introductionto psychology: Gateways to mind and behavior.Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.