Two Methods Of Classical, Associative And Operant Conditioning

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Learning is defined as the ability to gain knowledge; however, the learning psychology theory describes this as the process of change in behavior resulting from observation, practice, and maturation (The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia). There are two identified forms of learning, associative and cognitive, both are controlled by the brain. Specifically, classical and operant conditioning are two methods of associative learning models that psychologist Ivan Pavlov and B.F. Skinner heuristically contributed to the understanding of human behavior. Ivan Pavlov’s significant contribution was fortuitously discovered, since his initial intent was to study salivation and was analyzing a dog’s response to meat when he observed a learning …show more content…
Hence, psychologist today counter Pavlov’s theory that classical conditioning does not have “cognitive origins” because classical conditioning has a natural relationship with survival (The Columbia
Electronic Encyclopedia). Per contra, operant conditioning is intentional learned behavior triggered by response, meaning the behavior happens first followed by a reinforcer or punisher that will either encourage or alter the learned response. Operant conditioning states that responses or human behavior can be shaped or modified through reinforcements that result in a desired response (McLeod, 2007). According to McLeod, Skinner identified three operants that can follow behavior:
• Neutral – neither increase of decrease probability of repeated behavior.
• Reinforcers – increase the probability of repeated behavior, reinforcers can be negative or positive.
• Punishers – weakens behavior (2007). For instance positive feedback (praise, recognition) and token rewards are positive reinforces that if applied unpredictably, rather than continuously, result in fast
…show more content…
Classical Versus Operant Conditioning Classical Conditioning Operant Conditioning
Nature of responses Involuntary, reflex Spontaneous, voluntary
Reinforcement Occurs before responses Occurs after responses
Role of learner Passive (response is elicited) Active (response is emitted)
Nature of learning Neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimuli (CS) through association with an unconditioned stimulus (US). Probability of making a response is altered by consequences that follow.
Learned expectancy US will follow CS Response will have a specific effect.
Source: Coon, D., & Mitterer, J. O. (2013). Introduction to psychology: Gateways to mind and behavior (13th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Albeit classical conditioning is referred to as a natural involuntary learning process, while operant conditioning is voluntary intentional learning – both influence human behavior and coexist to enhance quality of life. Pavlov and Skinner’s contribution to science and understanding of learning paved the way for today’s knowledge of

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