Thursday, December 13, 2012

How do classical conditioning procedures differ from operant conditioning procedures? How are they similar? In your opinion, which learning process is more effective? Why?

   In classical conditioning, an environmental stimulus initiates a response, differing from operant conditioning, where a behavior (or operant) produces an environmental response (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). In classical conditioning, a neutral stimulus that does not elicit a response is paired with a stimulus that does elicit a response, therefore the pairing allows the neutral stimulus to elicit a response. Ivan Pavlov presented a conditioning model that showed how classical conditioning works. Another example would the scent of a bottle of perfume (neutral stimulus), which does not elicit a response and a physically attractive woman (stimulus), who produces sexual desire. When the scent is paired with a physically attractive woman and when one experiences the combine pair enough a sexual desire when result when the scent is smelt be itself.
     In operant conditioning, learning occurs when an organism associates a response that occurs spontaneously with a particular environmental effect (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Thorndike’s cat experiment was an example of this. Another example would be working and compensations or benefits. One learns that working results in compensation or benefits, which is a positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement would be if one works in a stressful environment, whereas one misses work frequently to less the stress, hence decreasing compensation or benefits. Classical conditioning and operant conditioning differ, but they are both types of learning.   


Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2011). Psychology (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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