Classical Conditioning and the Pupil Dilation Response Essay

915 Words 4 Pages
National University of Singapore
Department of Psychology


Question 2

Classical Conditioning and the Pupil Dilation Response

Here is a simple classical conditioning experiment that you can perform on yourself at home. You will need a bell (or something you can ring), a hand-held mirror, and a room that becomes completely dark when the light is turned off. Hold the bell while standing in the room near the light switch. Once in position, you should ring the bell and then immediately turn off the light. After waiting in total darkness for about 15 seconds, turn the light back on. Wait another 15 seconds with the light on, and then ring the bell and immediately turn the light back off
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After the light is switched back on, it is necessary for the experimenter to wait for another 15 seconds before repeating the procedure again. This is to allow some time for the light rays to elicit pupil constriction, enabling the reflexive response of pupil dilation to occur once more when the procedure is repeated. The distinctive ring of the bell was initially the NS, but eventually became the CS, after being repeatedly associated with the UCS within close intervals for 20 to 30 times during the experiment. This is because after conditioning, the previously-neutral stimulus has became one, which through association with the 15-second darkness (UCS), comes to elicit the reflexive response of pupil dilation (CR) which is similar to the original response (UCR), even without darkness. This can be seen from the results shown by the classical conditioning experiment above, where after the numerous pairings between the bell ring (NS) and darkness (UCS), the reflexive response of pupil dilation will still occur after the bell is rung despite the absence of darkness (UCS; i.e. with the lights on), hence successfully transforming the NS into the CS, and the UCR into the CR. A novel classical conditioning experiment that can be performed at home will require

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