20 Examples of Classical and Operant Conditioning

In the field of psychology, conditioning It is the form of imposition of certain forms of stimulus control, in order to obtain incidence on the final behavior of the subjects. It is, roughly, a specific form of learning and / or behavioral education.

There are two traditional forms of conditioning, according to the control exercised over the stimulus: classical and operant conditioning.

  • Classical conditioning. Also called Pavlovian in honor of its most important scholar, Iván Pavlov, it obeys a stimulus-response pattern from which a subject is able to associate a certain event with another and therefore with a behavior expected of him, by simple association of events in memory. Pavlov’s most famous experiment was to feed a dog only after ringing a bell. After repeating this pattern numerous times, the dog was already salivating in anticipation of the upcoming meal. For instance: the recess bell, the dog’s plate.
  • Operant conditioning. Instead, part of the increase or decrease of the given stimulus, based on a punishment-reward pattern. Instead of the association of stimuli, this type of learning is based on the development of new behaviors, from the reinforcement (positive or negative: reward or punishment) of the desired ones and not the unwanted ones. His principal investigator, BF Skinner, used to explore him a distraction-free environment called a Skinner box, in which he could manipulate the delivery of food to test animals. For instance: the offers in products, the symbolic castration.

Examples of classical conditioning

  1. The recess bell. In schools, it announces the arrival of recess. By dint of repeating itself, the students will associate it with the feelings of freedom and rest that they experience during recess.
  2. The dog’s plate. Where the food is put, just by appearing will transmit to the dog the excitement of feeding itself, since it will have associated the dish with its usual content.
  3. Emotional trauma. Or traumatic experiences, associated with a specific place, will produce an unpleasant feeling for the person who suffered them when they return to the scene of the events, for example, to a painful place from childhood.
  4. The smell of perfume. From a specific love partner, perceived long after the relationship ended, it can reproduce in the subject the sensations with which it associates or associates it with that former loved one.
  5. Touch something hot. It is often an experience that children learn very quickly to avoid, associating the pain of the burn with the object, for example, the burning stove in the kitchen.
  6. The punishment strap. It will be associated with the pain it produces for the dog, so it will react to its presence defensively: fleeing or attacking it.
  7. The arrival of the master to the classroom. It will be preceded by your audible footsteps. When they perceive them, the students will return to their desks and will assume a behavior that they have already associated with the presence of authority.
  8. The cry of a baby. It is the mechanism to get the mother’s attention and receive her affections or food. Sooner or later the child will associate crying with the mother’s presence.
  9. Music during a specific activity. It can be associated with the sensations that the activity entails, as occurs with the character of A clockwork orange (1971.
  10. Certain acting methods. They operate based on the voluntary association of some tragic memory with certain forms of body memory, in order to evoke the emotion on stage in a realistic way.

Examples of operant conditioning

  1. Watchdogs have their ferocity reinforced. Through positive encouragement every time they attack a stranger or bite a thief. The ferocity of the dog will increase as it associates the reward with the behavior and encourages it to increase the amount received.
  2. Sales workers are encouraged to sell. Through a system of rewards and bonuses. The prospect of receiving the bonus is enough to stimulate the seller’s effort, just as the lack of it discourages less compromising behavior.
  3. Good grades from children. They are rewarded with parental approval, in the form of gifts or celebrations. This positive reinforcement will be associated with the study effort and will promote increasingly better grades.
  4. Offers on products. They seek to positively reinforce consumption, making us buy more quantity.
  5. Pets are taught to relieve themselves. Through positive encouragement when they do it in the right place and punishment when they do it outside.
  6. The lifting of the sentence of the prisoners. For reasons of good behavior, it seeks to promote learning by eliminating a negative stimulus (imprisonment).
  7. A teenager is caught cheating in an exam. And his parents forbid him to go to a party. Young will associate the loss of the desired experience with the mistake made and will not do it anymore.
  8. Dictatorships silence the media. Through negative reinforcement, applying sanctions in economic and administrative areas when they report any illegal government action. Eventually the censorship turns into self-censorship and the medium learns submission to power.
  9. Reciprocal reward in a couple. Of certain behaviors through erotic and / or affective reinforcements, it allows the joint learning of the acceptable and unacceptable dynamics between lovers.
  10. The symbolic castration. It is a psychological phenomenon in which the authority figure (traditionally the father) negatively reinforces certain instinctual behaviors considered incorrect by society, such as incest.