Classical operant and observational conditioning

Classical, operant, and observational are all types of conditioning and learning. Conditioning, in psychology, is causing an organism to exhibit a specific response to a stimulus. A stimulus is anything that heightens excitement or action. Classical conditioning is a form of learning, in which a reflexive or automatic response transfers from one stimulus to another. For instance, a person who has had painful experiences at the dentists office may become fearful at just the sight of the dentists office building. Fear, a natural response to a painful stimulus, has transferred to a different stimulus, the sight of a building. Most psychologists believe that classical conditioning occurs when a person forms a mental association between two stimuli, so that encountering one stimulus makes the person think of the other. People tend to form these mental associations between events or stimuli that occur closely together in space or time. Classical conditioning was discovered by accident by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov was studying how saliva aids the digestive process. He would give a dog some food and measure the amount of saliva the dog produced while it ate the meal. After the dog had gone through this procedure a few times, however, it would begin to salivate before receiving any food. Pavlov believed that someme new stimulus, had become associated with the food and produced the response of salivation in the dog. After an animal has learned a conditioned response to one stimulus, it may also respond to similar stimuli without training. If a child is bitten by a large black dog, the child may fear not only that dog, but other large dogs. This is called generalization. Less similar stimuli will usually produce less generalization. After studying classical conditioning in dogs and other animals, psychologists became interested in how this type of learning might apply…

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