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Classical And Operant Conditioning Essay

558 words - 3 pages

Classical and Operant Conditioning
Ah’Nonda Bates
March 28, 2014

Classical and Operant Conditioning

Two behavior modification techniques important to behavioral psychology are classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning and operant conditioning are both types of learning processes, but each with different focuses.
Classical conditioning was developed by Ivan Pavlov. Ivan Pavlov contributed to the world of psychology through his study of behaviorism. His development of classical conditioning began through his experiments known as Pavlov’s Dogs. In these experiments, Pavlov studied classical conditioning, learning through association between environmental stimulus and natural occurring stimulus. Classical conditioning included four main principles: the unconditioned stimulus, the unconditioned response, the conditioned stimulus, and the conditioned response. An example of this type ...view middle of the document...

Skinner invented the cumulative recorder, a device used to show rates of responses. With this device, Skinner developed operant conditioning. This type of learning process uses both positive and negative reinforcements and positive and negative punishments in order to control behavior. When a parent rewards a child with a new toy (the positive reinforcement) when the child gets a good grade on a school test (the behavior), the child is conditioned to associate getting a new toy when they get a good grade. Therefore, the behavior increases with reward. The process works the same way with punishment. A parent takes the child’s video game away (the negative punishment) when the child receives a bad grade on a school test (the behavior). The behavior then decreases with punishment.

Both classical conditioning and operant conditioning, developed by Ivan Pavlov and B.F. Skinner, have impacted behaviorism and psychology. Operant conditioning is used often by parents, school teachers, and police officers; because it is proven that certain behaviors can be controlled by use of reinforcements and punishments. Classical conditioning sometimes happens without realization, such as a wife associating a song with her husband because it played when they had their first date. These learning processes help understand and explain human behavior. Many areas of life are affected by these two behavior modification techniques, from parenting to dog training. Although classical conditioning and operant conditioning have many differences, they both have the capability of shaping behavior, each with its own techniques.


Cherry, K. (2014). Classical vs Operant Conditioning. Retrieved from
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