The two methods have the word conditioning in common. What is conditioning?Conditioning is the acquisition of specific patterns of behavior in the presenceof well-defined stimuli. Both classical and operant conditioning are basic formsof learning. Classical conditioning is a type of learning in which an organismlearns to transfer a natural response from one stimulus to another, previouslyneutral stimulus. This is done by manipulating reflexes.
Operant conditioning isa type of learning in which the likelihood of a behavior is increased ordecreased by the use of reinforcement or punishment. Operant conditioning dealswith more cognitive thought process. These two forms of learning havesimilarities and differences. Their similarities are that they both producebasic phenomena. One such phenomenon is acquisition.
Both types of conditioningresult in the inheritance of a behavior. One of the most famous of experimentsthat illustrates classical conditioning is Pavlov’s Dogs. In this experiment,Pavlov sat behind a one-way mirror and controlled the presentation of a bell. The bell was the conditioned stimulus.
A conditioned stimulus was an originallyneutral stimulus that could eventually produce a desired response when presentedalone. Directly after the ringing of the bell, Pavlov gave the dog food. Thefood was the unconditioned stimulus. This means that the food caused anuncontrollable response whenever it was presented alone. That response would bethe salivation of the dog. A tube that was in the dog’s mouth then measured thesaliva.
When the unconditioned stimulus (US) was paired with a conditionedstimulus (CS), it eventually resulted in a conditioned response. Extinctionresults if there is a decrease in frequency or strength of a learned responsedue to the failure to continue to pair the US and the CS. Extinction can alsooccur in operant conditioning. The key to operant conditioning is reinforcement. Reinforcement is when a stimulus is presented that increases the probabilitythat the preceding response will recur in the future.
If reinforcement iswithheld, extinction will occur in operant conditioning. Another factor that isinvolved in conditioning is spontaneous recovery. That is the reappearance of anextinguished response after the passage of time, without further training. IfPavlov’s dogs did not hear the bell for a few years, and if when they heard itlater they drooled, it would be an example of spontaneous recovery. Somethingsimilar occurs with operant conditioning. If an animal was conditioned to behavein a certain manor, but then their reinforcement was stopped, that animal maystill have a reaction to the stimulus at a much later date.
Organisms that arebeing conditioned through operant or classical conditioning can go throughsomething that is known as stimulus generalization. This is when there is atransfer of a learned response to different but similar stimuli. An examplewould be if one of Pavlov’s dogs salivated to the sound of a bell that wasdifferent from the one that they were originally conditioned with. Stimulusdiscrimination is another phenomena that occurs with classical and operantconditioning.
Discrimination is when an organism learns to respond to only onestimulus and inhibit the response to all other stimuli. It is the reverse ofgeneralization. If an organism hears many different sounds, but is only givenreinforcement for responding to only one of the sounds, it learns todiscriminate between the sounds. Some of the differences between operant andclassical conditioning lie in the extent to which reinforcement depends on thebehavior of the learner. In classical conditioning, the learner is automaticallyreinforced.
That is how it learns to respond to a once neutral stimulus. Inoperant conditioning, the learner must provide a correct response in order toreceived the reinforcement. Another difference between the two forms ofconditioning is the type of behavior to which each method applies. Classicalconditioning applies to a behavior that is always wanted. It was Pavlov’spurpose to have the dogs salivate on command. In operant conditioning, abehavior can be learned or extinguished.
If you wanted to train a dog not to dosomething, you would use a form of punishment. Classical and operantconditioning are similar, but they do differ in a few ways. Both are fairlyreliable ways to teach an organism to act in a specific manor.