Pavlov's Principles Of Classical Conditioning

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Ivan Pavlov (1849 – 1936), a Russian physiologist, wrote extensively about classical conditioning after an accidental finding while conducting research on the digestive system of dogs. In the course of his research, Pavlov noticed that the dogs began to salivate merely at his approach and not just at the sight of any food. Pavlov then began to conduct a series of conditioning experiments. Prior to conditioning the unconditioned stimulus, that is the meat, would produce the unconditioned response of salivation. Pavlov paired the neutral stimulus, a bell, with the unconditioned stimulus which was the food. After several pairings of the neutral stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus, Pavlov found that the dogs would salivate to
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Associations are commonplace in life and can be useful for survival even across species. For instance, a child’s association of pain upon touching the flame from a candle will result in the child knowing not to touch the flame again. However, some learned associations can result in disorders which can cause clinically significant impairments in social, occupational and work functioning to the extent that they require treatment. Many sources of fear and anxiety, for instance are learned or highly conditionable. At the same time, principles of classical conditioning can be used to treat a variety of disorders resulting in improved mental health for both children and adolescents alike.
For learning to take place there must be an association between a neutral stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus. Repeated pairings result in the acquisition of learning. The conditioned stimulus predicts the presentation of the unconditioned stimulus. For example for the child whose parent always brings him a treat when he gets home from work, the parent will become the predictor that the desired stimulus is about to follow. That is the child learns to associate the return of his father with the treat.
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It has been applied in various contexts including emotional management, motivation and therapy of psychological disorders.

Watson and Rayner (1920) as cited in Seligman et al (2001) conducted a series of conditioning experiments on Little Albert in which they conditioned him to fear a white rat. By pairing a loud noise, which Little Albert feared, with the presentation of the rat several times, Watson and Rayner conditioned Little Albert to fear white rats too. The boy’s fear quickly became generalised not just to fear of rats but also to the fear of rabbits, dogs and even a fur coat. Their experiment showed that fear could be conditioned though it was later criticised on ethical bases.

Jones (1924) subsequently conducted counter-conditioning in Peter, who was afraid of white rabbits. Jones gave Peter some food he enjoyed as he was eating she brought a rabbit into the room he was in. After a series of trials in which she brought the rabbit closer and closer to Peter as he ate, she was able to eliminate the fear of rabbits in
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