Pavlov's Theory Of Classical Conditioning

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“Classical conditioning describes a process where a stimulus becomes associated with, and is used to predict, the occurrence of an important event which subsequently leads to an increase in response behaviour” (Malim and Birch, 1998).

This concept was first extensively studied and experimented in the early 20th century by a Russian physiologist called Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov worked on three different research problems during his long and rewarding life, but he was most interested in digestion processes. His work on conditioned reflexes followed an unforeseen discovery while investigating the digestive system of dogs. This was soon to be known as classical conditioning.
He based his experimentation on the production of saliva that results from
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This represented an unlearned reflexive relationship. Conditioning, then required the systematic pairing of a neutral stimulus, the bell, with the unconditioned stimulus, the food. The bell came to represent a conditioned stimulus, which evoked the conditioned response, salivation.

In the three quarters of a century following this work, the accumulation of factual information about classical conditioning has continued, but there has been little conceptual progress. Behaviourists have described several different phenomena, which act as key principles, associated with classical conditioning, all of which come directly from Pavlov’s original work. Some of these elements involve the initial establishment of the response, while others describe the disappearance of a response. These phenomena include: acquisition; extinction; spontaneous recovery; stimulus generalisation; and discrimination.
Acquisition is the first stage of learning when a response is established and gradually strengthened. In relation to Pavlov’s experiment this would be conditioning the dogs to salivate in response to the bell, while pairing it with feeding. You would continue to do this until the response is ‘acquired’, and then gradually reinforce the salivation response to ensure the action is well practised and
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An example with regards to Pavlov’s experiment would be the dogs being able to tell the difference between the sound of the bell and other similar noises.
As an example of classic conditioning, Pavlov’s study serves as the basis of understanding how environmental stimuli may gain control over reflexive behaviours. Once conditioned however, these conditioned stimuli-conditioned responses relationships will only be maintained if the conditioned and unconditioned stimuli are occasionally paired with each other.
Clinical applications of classical conditioning techniques have been widely accepted for both adult and children. However treatment emphasis has often focused only on fear and anxiety reduction, given the historical development of classical conditioning. While a classic approach is effective with anxiety based disorders, the clinical application has many uses. Moreover, classical conditioning procedures are significantly enhanced when used in conjunction with approaches based on operant learning

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