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Classical Conditioning. Classical and Operant Conditioning. Basic effect. Classical Conditioning


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Classical and Operant Conditioning

January 16, 2001

Classical Conditioning

• Reminder of Basic Effect

• What makes for effective conditioning?

• How does classical conditioning work?

Classical Conditioning

• Reflex-basic unit of behavior

• Ring a bell and give a sour ball—soon you will salivate to the sound of the bell = conditioned reflex.

Basic effect

If Unconditioned Stimulus ? Unconditioned Response (meat powder) (salivation)

then pair

Conditioned Stimulus with the Unconditioned Stimulus

(bell) (meat powder)

then eventually

Conditioned Stimulus ? Conditioned Response (bell) (salivation)

Who didn’t know this already? Who didn’t know this?

If Unconditioned Stimulus ? Unconditioned Response (smell of food) (approach)

then pair

Conditioned Stimulus with the Unconditioned Stimulus (sound of can opener) (smell of food)

then eventually

Conditioned Stimulus ? Conditioned Response



• You can’t answer questions effectively without an experimental method

• It’s not enough to say “cat comes”

• How many times must it hear the can opener?

• What if sometimes I open a can of soup?

• How quickly will the cat come?

• Can any stimulus be associated with any response?

• WHY does the cat come?

Many questions you could ask

• What makes an effective CS and US?

• How might classical conditioning work?

What makes effective CS & US

• Belongingness

• Taste->vomiting, sight->shock

• Effect observed in humans, too. Fear conditioning to snakes/spiders vs.

flowers/mushrooms (dv = GSR)

What makes effective CS & US

• Novelty

• Bell alone, then bell?food – Bell associated w/ background – Bell associated w/ no food

• Food alone, then bell?food

How does CC work?

• CC can be thought of as adding predictability to the animal’s environment.

• Learning that one stimulus is conditional on the other.

• If one stimulus is not conditional on the other, you won’t get learning.

How does CC work?

• Importance of one stimulus being conditional on another.

– If you present CS and US randomly, you don’t get learning.

– Animals should ignore stimuli that don’t have predictive value.


Predictive value--blocking

Group 1: Tone Shock ToneLight Shock Light Shock Group 2: x Light Shock Light Shock

Training 1 Training 2 Test

Learning = bad

Learning = good

The Point of Blocking

The animal only learns what light means if light carries new predictive information

Rigor allows prediction

Note how different this enterprise is than the casual observation of your cat.

Final phenomenon-- secondary conditioning

What do you think would happen if you taught a dog Light Food,

and then taught it Bell Light,


The dog would learn it, and would eventually salivate to


How does secondary

conditioning apply here?


US = food, UR = approach, hovering CS = arm motions, CR = approach, hovering Secondary CS= looking up, CR = approach, hovering

What’s happening, and what should the birds do?

What’s happening: removal of secondary CS What should the birds do?: extinction of CR

Moments later, birds are leaving

Application to humans?

Application to humans?

• Food anticipations--salivation

• Food aversions

• Drug tolerance & addiction


Drug Addiction and Overdose

CC plays a role in deaths caused by drug overdoses

Person who usually takes a drug in a particular setting develops a CR to that place.

Drug ? Big Response (e.g. hypothermia) and body tries to return to homeostasis

Drug Addiction and Overdose

Drug ? Body attempts to counteract (raise body temp.)


Setting (e.g. bathroom)?Drug


Bathroom ? Body attempts to counteract drug


What happens if the drug is taken in a different room?

Drug Addiction and Overdose

CR does not occur (user’s body does not try to counteract drug) and the user can not tolerate the higher dose.

Drug Addiction

Craving for drug is an attempt to get back to homeostasis:

Craving is caused by Conditioned Stimuli e.g.: handling money

seeing a friend take drug talking about drugs being in specific setting

Operant Conditioning Operant Conditioning

• Conditioned reflexes couldn’t account for all behavior

• Active response ? future change in response depending on consequences.


Operant Conditioning

In classical conditioning, the presence of one stimulus (e.g. meat powder) is conditional on the presence of another stimulus (e.g., a bell)

What else can an animal learn, besides the relationship of two stimuli?

Operant Conditioning

It is also possible for the animal to generate a response and for that response to have consequences:

e.g., act cute, you get pet

What makes OC effective?

• Temporal contingency

• Schedule of reinforcement

• Belongingness

Temporal Contingency

• The delay between the animal’s act that you are reinforcing, and the reinforcer.

– Immediate is more effective than delayed for animals.

– Humans can learn effectively after delayed reinforcement.

Operant Conditioning

Relies on reinforcement:

The process by which consequences lead to an increase in the likelihood that the response will occur again.


• Positive Reinforcement: desired event is presented after a response.

– example: food when animal presses bar

• Negative Reinforcement: removal of an unpleasant event

– example: removal of shock when animal presses bar.


Schedules of Reinforcement

• Fixed ratio – number

• Variable ratio – number

• Fixed interval – time

• Variable interval – time

Fixed ratio

Reinforcement is given after a fixed ratio of responses.

Time Number of


Example: factory piecework Steady response Easy to extinguish

Variable ratio

Reinforcement is given after a variable ratio of responses.

Example: slot machine

Rapid response Hard to extinguish

Time Number of


Fixed interval

Reinforcement is given for a response emitted after a fixed interval of time.

Example: studying for exams

Little response until just before reinforcement:

then rapid response Fairly easy to extinguish Time

Number of Responses

Variable interval

Reinforcement is given for a response after a variable amount of time.

Example: checking mailbox (sort of)

Steady response Hard to extinguish Number of


Operant conditioning--what makes it effective?

• Temporal contingency

• Schedule of reinforcement

• ** Belongingness



• Thorndike: Cat and puzzle box.

– Pressing lever led to door opening – Not yawning or scratching

• Motivational state can also influence;

a hungry animal does more for food- seeking behaviors. . .


• Animal training

• Superstition

• Teaching Machines

• Token Economies

Animal Training

• Revolutionized animal training – Shaping

• Importance of temporal contingency

• Exclusive use of positive reinforcement

• Complexity of behaviors when these rules are followed.


• Skinner left pigeons alone, reinforced every 15 seconds. Reported that they developed “superstitious” behavior, each bird having a different behavior. Pigeons appeared to believe that they were “making the food appear”

• Temporal contingency--birds were doing something when the food appeared. . .


Superstitious behavior: depends on accidental association between action and consequence


• Apply operant conditioning principles to learning

– Make sure student doesn’t make mistakes; guide behavior via successive approximations – Review frequently

• Little enthusiasm. Teachers don’t like it and students are bored.


Behavior Modification

• Token economies – Secondary reinforcement – “dehumanizing”?

Operant and Classical

• CC: Neutral stimulus comes to have meaning

• OC: Neutral response comes to have meaning

Are they really different?


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