Compare Contrast Operant & Classical Conditioning

1642 Words Feb 12th, 2008 7 Pages
Learning is any relatively permanent change in behaviour due to experience (Grivas et al, 1999: 318). Conditioning is the acquisition of specific patterns of behaviour in the presence of well-define stimuli (Termpapers, 2003: 01). Learning is the unconscious association between two stimuli which brings about stimulus substitution: Classical Conditioning, CC, Pavlov and the encoding of consequences: Operant Conditioning, OC, Skinner (Grivas et al. 1999: 346-349). This essay will compare and contrast the two learning theories, focusing on the main similarities and differences that exist.

CC (otherwise known as respondent or Pavlovian conditioning (Weiten, 2001: 222 & Copper et al, 1987: 19) was first described by Pavlov in 1899 after
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However they differ in that CC is an unconscious association between two stimuli and OC is a conscious process of learning (Temper, 2003: 01).

In both types of conditioning, extinction occurs however they slightly vary in the process (Grivas et al, 1999: 374). In CC, extinction refers to the gradual weakening or disappearance of the CR resulting from the continuos presentation of the CS alone (Grivas at al, 1999: 329). In OC however, the discontinuation of any reinforcement that had once maintained a given behaviour is referred to as extinction (Baldwin, 1998: 57). When reinforcement is withdrawn from the learning process, the frequency or rate of response decreases (Baldwin, 1998: 57). In CC, extinction takes place over a period of time when the UCS is withdrawn (Grivas et al, 1999: 363). Extinction within OC also occurs over time, but following the termination of reinforcement. (Grivas et al, 1999: 363) Another similarity that is present between the two learning theories is spontaneous recovery Extinction in both CC and OC can be interrupted by Spontaneous recovery (Grivas e al, 1999: 374). In CC, spontaneous recovery is the reappearance of a conditioned response when the CS is presented, following a rest period (i.e. when the CS is not presented) after the conditioned response appears to have been extinguished. (Grivas, 1999: 330). Similar to CC, extinction is not permanent in OC. After a period of time in which a stimulus is presented with no following
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