Classical and Operant Conditioning Essay

1000 Words4 Pages
While many people may believe that learning is just a natural response that all animals are capable of, there is actually a more complex explanation on how we learn the things we do in order to survive in the world. Classical conditioning and operant conditioning are both basic forms of learning, they have the word conditioning in common. Conditioning is the acquisition of specific patterns of behavior in the presence of well-defined stimuli.

Classical conditioning is a type of learning in which an organism learns to transfer a natural response from one stimulus to another, previously neutral stimulus. Classical conditioning is achieved by manipulating reflexes. Operant conditioning is a type of learning in which the likelihood of a
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Organisms will be inclined to comply to the desired response if they are rewarded for doing so. If an organism is punished for a certain behavior they will not risk the same punishment recurring.

In operant conditioning, it is possible to strengthen responses by either presenting positive reinforcement or by the removal of negative reinforces. "New responses can be learned by organisms by gradually reinforcing closer and closer approximations of the desired response" (Weiten p. 238). This is what is meant by shaping, It is the gradual use of reinforcement until the desired response has been reached.

Reinforcement is the main contributing factor in operant conditioning. There is more than one way to go about establishing reinforcement, if a delay occurs between the response and the reinforcement the response may not become strengthened. It is likely that if the reinforcement occurs immediately after the response that there will be a definite strengthening of the response. Continuous reinforcement is when reinforcement occurs at every instance of the desired response. Intermittent reinforcement occurs when a response is reinforced some of the time. The different schedules of reinforcement influence patterns of response. Intermittent schedules offer greater resistance to extinction than continuous schedules.
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