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Conditioning Essay

1680 words - 7 pages

PAPER #1: CONDITIONING

Definition of classical conditioning

Classical conditioning is defined in Psychology as “a process by which a stimulus that previously did not elicit a response comes to elicit a response, in reflex—like fashion, after it is paired with one or more trials with a stimulus that already elicits a response” (Gray, 1999, p 100). Having to do with the reflexes, the definition of classical condition can be abbreviated into the idea of involuntary behavior. The example of Pavlov’s dog illustrates this as the dog came to associate the sound of a bell with food, causing a reflexive action of salivating, resulting in salivation even when the bell was not paired with food.
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Needless to say I am never at ease any more with this particular dog and from now on, any time I am sitting down and I see the dog approaching me, I immediately jump up and try to get away from her.

Analysis of behavior

Maya, the dog who urinated on me, was an unconditioned stimulus prior to her accident that night. However, after she urinated on me, the sight of her became a conditioned stimulus and out of fear of another accident, I jumped up, which became the conditioned response. This process, which depended on conditions which were present in my previous experience, is known as a conditioned reflex, since the pairing of seeing the dog approaching me like she had the previous time and jumping on me resulted in a reflex motion of jumping up even without the urination which occurred the first time.
To a certain degree I have experienced extjnction with this response to Maya. Sometimes after coming near me frequently throughout the evening without any type of accident I am able to relax and let her jump on me without jumping up and away from her. However, the next time I go over to my boyfriend’s house I repeat the entire process, resembling spontaneous recovery. The extinction in my case therefore only lasts for a brief passage of time and the conditioned reflex then comes back to me. Like Peter Gray says, “a single pairing of the conditioned stimulus with the unconditioned stImulus can renew the conditioned reflex” (Gray, 1999, p 105).

My reflexive action of jumping up when I see Maya approaching me sometimes pertains to the other dog, Cleo. Although there was never any incident with Cleo, and although the unconditioned stimulus was never paired with her, I sometimes react in the same way as I do to Maya, which is the conditioned reflex. This action can be considered generalization as this new stimulus, Cieo, is similar to the other dog.

Definition of operant conditioning

Psychology defines operant conditioning as “a process by which the consequences of a response Increase or decrease the likelihood that the response will occur again” (Gray, 1999, p 100). Simply stated, operant conditioning has to do with voluntary behavior, as actions are performed for an effect. Skinner’s method of studying operant behavior is a good example because his apparatus allowed the rat inside of it to acquire a reward of a pellet or water by pressing a lever, but remained in the box afterwards to repeat the process if desired. This differed from Thorndike’s puzzle boxes because the animal would have to be put back at the beginning of the box, not allowing it the chance to continue the action.

Personal experience with operant conditioning

I dance for a halau, which is a dance school for the Hawaiian dance form, hula. There are two parts which we focus on in dancing, the feet movements, and the hand movements. As hula is a means of telling a story, the hands are the important method of accomplishing this, so precision Is a must. We dance In...

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