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Classical Conditioning, Operant Conditioning and Observational learning

Part 1

Classical conditioning (also Pavlovian or respondent conditioning, Pavlovian reinforcement) can be described as when a natural stimulus is paired with a response. The natural stimulus is called the unconditional stimulus and the response is called the unconditional response. Then a neutral stimulus is paired with the natural stimulus, the neutral stimulus. This neutral stimulus is called the conditional stimulus. When this is repeated severally, the neutral response will evoke a response without even using the natural stimulus. This response without a natural stimulus is called a conditional response (Schacter, 2010).

For example when going home, I am used to giving my younger brother candy. The presentation of candy can be said to be the unconditional stimulus. The first time I started doing this, I had to call him to come so that I could give him candy and since it was the first time, he only thanked me. His response can be said to be unconditional response. However, as I did this severally he was already there waiting for me and immediately he had me enter the house, he would come running and ask me where is the candy without even presenting it to him. The sound of me entering the door can be said to be conditional stimulus while the response where is my candy can be said to be conditional response.

Operant conditioning is mainly the use of certain consequences to alter the occurrences and behavior of the learner. It can also be said as the behavior learners experience and it has some impact on the environment (Schacter, 2010). For example, a student who takes his studies in college with five weeks per semester must complete curtain things like cats and assignments in order to finish that semester. In one unit, a lecturer might give a fixed timetable of how he is going to distribute the cats and assignments. That is, after two weeks, there is an assignment and after four weeks, there is a cat. This means that the lecturer has used a fixed interval schedule. If he only says that after every topic there is a cat and an assignment, it means that he has used a variable interval schedule since the time one topic ends is not defined.

However, the lecturer might say that he will only give the students three cats during the semester as one of the requirements in order to finish the semester. This means that the student will know that after the third cat he has completed his cats. In this case, it means that fixed ratio schedule has been used. On the other hand, he might say on average you need 40% in order to finish the cats. This means that the number of cats the students does is not defined but on average, they might be three. In this case, they have used the variable reinforcement schedule. Additionally, the student can fail but this does not mean that he will not repeat the semester therefore he portrays intermittent reinforcement.

Observational leaning can be said to be when someone learns something due to watching the action of others (Schacter, 2010). For example, a teacher might warn students and tell them not to make any noise in the classroom. However, one student is caught making noise and he is severely punished as the other students watch. Both, the student punished and the rest of the students have learnt the consequences of making noise. It can be noted that the rest of the students have learnt this through watching the other student get punished therefore observational learning has been exhibited.

Part 2

Learning can be defined as the process where an organism collects different techniques, procedures and outcomes and later the organism produces several changes in behavior due to what it has understood from the collection. This means that, learning are those experiences, which result to permanent changes in a learner due to what he has experienced. Therefore, we can say that learning is based on experiences, which are then followed by changes, and these changes are said to be permanent. The work of learning can be said to impact knowledge in order to get its reward.

The research is very fascinating and I think the animals can learn a language. The pet Rico has been seen to know the different sounds of things he has learnt but what the research has proved is that the animals cannot be able to learn how to speak. I have a pet dog by the name Tiger and to a certain level; the dog usually exhibits the same abilities as Rico does. What makes me believe my pet is cable of learning is, when I got Tiger, he did not know anything but after some training, the dog started to understand what I was saying like sit, roll and get him. What I have to make to help my Tiger understand language is by rewarding him at each an every time he understands me during training.

In the experiment by Skinner, he was trying to explain that for an organism to exhibit behavior, there could be conditions or consequences to influence this (Schacter, 2010). In the experiment, skinner would place a rat or pigeon in a box. The animal was to get food only when he was correct in doing what he been asked to. Negative response was experienced when the electric shock was removed from the animals and positive reinforcement is used when the rat gets food after it used the correct lever. The ethical issues that arose in this experiment were that many people thought that this was a way of torturing the animals.



Schacter. L. D. (2010). Memory Brain and Belief. Cambridge, Middlesex: Harvard University Press.

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