Classical And Operant Conditioning And The Field Of Psychology

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How have studies of classical and operant conditioning contributed to the field of psychology?

In this essay I will outline the main principles of both operant and classical conditioning methods and discuss what both theories have contributed to the field of psychology and what they have taught us about the way in which some human behaviour occurs.

Classical conditioning, also known as Pavlovian conditioning (Davis, S. F., & Buskist, W. (2008). 21st century psychology: a reference handbook Page 312 (Vol. 1). Sage.) states our behaviours are instigated by associating certain stimuli with other behaviours which involves four main learning principles known as acquisition, extinction, spontaneous recovery and stimulus generalisation and discrimination. (Martin, G.N., Carlson, N.R., and Buskist, W. (2013). Psychology. (5th ed.). Page 228 Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education. Chapter 7). Acquisition refers to the learning phase in classical conditioning when the conditioned stimulus increases in strength, extinction refers to when the conditioned stimulus is no longer linked with the unconditioned stimulus. Spontaneous recover refers to the resurfacing of the conditioned response after a period in which the response has been less apparent. Finally, stimulus generalisation and discrimination refers to when a conditioned response applies to similar stimuli, for example, being conditioned to fear a stuffed white rabbit the same behaviour will apply to an object of the same variety
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