Classical and Operant Conditioning
Classical conditioning is a technique of learning that occurs when an unconditional stimulus is paired with a conditional stimulus. The unconditional stimulus is biologically potent, the conditional stimulus is neutral (Kalat, 2011). Example of each is taste of food and sound of tuning fork respectively. After repeated pairing, the organism exhibits a conditional response to the conditional stimulus. The conditional response is similar to the unconditioned response though it is relatively impermanent and is acquired through experience (Kalat, 2011).
Operant conditioning is a system of learning that transpires through punishment and rewards for behaviors (Kalat, 2011). Through this, a connection linking a behavior and a consequence is made. For instance a kid could be told that she will not get recess privileges if she talks in class. This possibility of being punished leads to decrease in disruptive behaviors from her. The major components of operant condition are punishment and reinforcement (Kalat, 2011).
Contrasting the two, operant was first described by an American psychologist while classical conditioning was described by a Russian psychologist. Another key dissimilarity involves the kinds of behaviors that are conditional (Weseley, McEntarffer, & McEntarffer, 2010). Whilst classical conditioning is based on automatic and involuntary behaviors, operant conditioning focuses on intentional behaviors. Operant conditioning focuses on strengthening or weakening voluntary behaviors while classical conditioning specializes on involuntary and automatic behaviors. Classical conditioning involves placing a conditional stimulus which is a impartial signal prior to a reflex while the operant conditioning involves applying punishment or reinforcement before a behavior. Classical conditioning is maintained by its antecedents and consequences while operant is maintained by conditioning of reflexive behaviors which are also elicited by antecedent conditions. Response in operant conditioning arises over a given time period as compared to classical conditioning that occurs immediately (Weseley, McEntarffer, & McEntarffer, 2010).
Classical conditioning is applied by animal trainers for two purposes: for training automatic responses without using a stimulus that would obviously create such response, and, generating a relationship between a stimulus that would not affect the animal and another one that would affect it. Stimuli that animals react to without training are called primary stimuli. They include pain and food. Animals do not require to be trained on how to react to electric shock just as the dogs of Pavlov did not have to learn about food (Coon, Mitterer, Talbot, & Vanchella, 2010).
Secondary stimuli are stimuli that animals respond to just after learning about them. For example, in Pavlov’s test, the sound of a bell did not mean...