Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Behaviorism: Ivan Pavlov's Classical Conditioning

     Ivan Pavlov's Classical Conditioning is probably the most commonly given as example if behaviorism is being talked about. Ivan Pavlov by the way is a Russian psychologist, became a Nobel Prize winner, and is famous for his experiment regarding the dog, the meat and the bell.

(You may want to read my other posts related to behaviorism here:)

     In his experiment, he divided the process into before, during and after conditioning. Before conditioning, he had the bell rung (neutral stimulus) and caused no response from the dog. A food (unconditioned stimulus) was placed before the dog and the animal salivated (unconditioned response). During conditioning, the bell was rung before presenting the food to the dog. After conditioning, the ringing of the bell (conditioned stimulus) alone triggered the dog to salivate (conditioned response).
     To make this more related to education, I would like to have this scenario. In the first days of school, Ms. Lulu asked her students to prepare a 1/4 sheet of pad paper (neutral stimulus) and the students had no problem with it. In the passing days, Ms. Lulu's difficult tests (unconditioned stimulus) made the students worry (unconditioned response). It became a habit of Ms. Lulu to ask the students to prepare a 1/4 sheet of pad paper because she will give a test. Soon, Ms. Lulu's asking of 1/4 sheet of pad paper (conditioned stimulus) alone made the students worry (conditioned response). This is classical conditioning. Hehehe... I hope that you get what I mean...

     Aside from these examples, these are also some of the findings of Pavlov illustrated by Ms. Lulu scenario
1. Students will still be worried even if Ms. Lulu will ask to prepare a 1/2 sheet of pad paper or a whole sheet of pad paper (Stimulus Generalization).
2. If Ms. Lulu will stop asking the students to use a sheet of pad paper in their tests and just require them to have a test notebook, the students will not be worried the next time she will ask for a sheet of paper (Extinction).
3. Students' worry will return or "recovered" if Ms. Lulu will once again ask the students for a sheet of pad paper in their test, but will soon extinguish again if they will use their test notebooks (Spontaneous Recovery).
4. Students learn to differentiate between papers that they use in test. For example, if Ms. Lulu will ask for a sheet of bond paper, most probably the student will not worry (Discrimination).
5. Once the students are now conditioned to be worried when Ms. Lulu's asks for a sheet of pad paper, another unconditioned stimulus can be made. For example, Ms. Lulu is holding a red notebook while she asks her students to prepare their sheet of pad paper. Soon, students will be worried when Ms. Lulu will hold her red notebook even before she will ask for a 1/4 sheet of pad paper (Higher-Order Conditioning).


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