Classical conditioning involves the repeated pairing of two stimuli so that a previously neutral or conditioned stimulus will eventually elicit a response (conditioned response), similar to that originally elicited by the non-neutral, or unconditioned stimulus.

unconditioned stimulus - meat
Unconditioned stimulus
unconditioned response - dog salivates
Unconditioned response - the dog salivates when it sees the steak

From this finding, Pavlov wanted to see if an external stimuli could affect his process. Thus, he rang a bell at the same time as feeding the dog.

neutral stimulus - bell
Neutral stimulus
unconditioned stimulus - meat
Unconditioned stimulus
dog salivates
The dog salivates when it sees the steak and hears the sound of the bell.

Over repeated trials, the dog associates the bell with the food. Therefore, the bell now has the power to produce the same response as the food.

conditioned stimulus- bell
Neutral stimulus - has become conditioned.
salivation at sound of bell
The dog salivates when it hears the sound of the bell.

The bell has now become the conditioned stimulus, with salivation being the conditioned response.

Classical conditioning is a fairly simple concept. One starts with two things which are already connected with each other, (in this case food and salivation). One adds a third thing, (in this case the bell), for several trials. Eventually, the third thing may become so strongly associated that it has the power to produce the old behaviour.


This type of influence is extremely common. If you have pets and you feed them with canned food, what happens when you hit the can opener? Sure, the animals come running even if you are opening a can of green beans. They have associated the sound of the opener with their food.

Classical conditioning works with people, too. Go to K-Mart and watch what happens when the blue light turns on. Cost conscious shoppers will make a beeline to that table because they associate a good sale with the blue light. (And, the research proves that people are more likely to buy the sale item under the blue light even if the item isn't a good value.)

And classical conditioning works with advertising. For example, many beer ads promeniently feature attractive young women wearing bikinis. The young women (Unconditioned Stimulus) naturally elicit a favorable, mildly aroused feeling (Unconditioned Response) in most men. The beer is simply associated with this effect. The same thing applies with the jingles and music that accompany many advertisements.

Perhaps the strongest application of classical conditioning involves emotion. Common experience and careful research both confirm that human emotion conditions very rapidly and easily. Particularly when the emotion is intensely felt or negative in direction, it will condition quickly.

For example, when I was in college I was robbed at gun point by a young man who gave me The Choice ("Your money or your life.") It was an unexpected and frightening experience. This event occurred just about dusk and for a long time thereafter, I often experienced moments of dread in the late afternoons particularly when I was just walking around the city. Even though I was quite safe, the lengthening shadows of the day were so strongly associated with the fear I experienced in the robbery, that I could not but help feel the emotion all over.

Clearly, classical conditioning is a pervasive form of influence in our world. This is true because it is a natural feature of all humans and it is relatively simple and easy to accomplish. Source

go to page 1 of 4 Go to page 1

go to page 3 of 4 Go to page 3

go to page 4 of 4 Go to page 4