Classical conditioning is a stimulus that causes a response or a condition since it is an antecedent to a reaction such as reflex action or response through an involuntary action. According to Hock, the reflex is an innate occurrence happening because of an environmental stimulus (2002). For instance, when dust gets into the eye, the animal or human being reacts by blinking instantly.
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This reaction has no link to the conscious control or voluntary measures. As an important concept of psychology, classical conditioning is thus a learning process through which a conditioned stimulus is linkable to a different conditioned stimulus that correlate to another unconditioned stimulus to causes the reaction.
In this case, the initiating conditioned stimulus should not have produced a previous reaction. “The result is a response produced by the unconditioned stimulus but elicited by a conditioned stimulus” (Hock, 2002). As a learning process, the concept also explains various observable facts.
A clear example of a classical conditioning is when one is on a date with someone special and the food or drinks seem very pleasing. The urge to hold a similar date in future with the same person may be catalyzed by various factors. First is the admirable nature of this person, the good food or the fancy restaurant. The liking can also be a partial sign that the consideration is due to classical conditioning.
The food is the unconditioned stimulus due to natural pleasurable taste and need for a later date, while the conditioned stimulus is the pleasant feeling from the accompanying person. If the date is repeated a couple of times, it becomes pleasurable regardless of the food and a nice place, since the friend triggers the goodness and thus caters for the stimulus provided by food.
The technique of classical conditioning is thus used in training behaviour where one can combine a natural stimulus linked to a response. Previous stimuli can also evoke fresh responses and other natural stimuli, thus the reference to conditioned stimulus or response.
Factors Affecting Classical Conditioning
Acquisition is a stage of learning that involves establishment and gradual strengthening of a response. The acquisition of a response lack gradual reinforcement that makes the behaviour to fade away systematically.
A conditioned response can easily decrease and eventually disappear especially when there are no other unconditioned stimuli for appropriate pairing of the conditioned response (Hock, 2002). Classical conditioning however lacks good definition of timing.
Well-known conditioned procedures have huge influences in determining the reliability of conditioned stimulus, which in turn generates the conditioned responses. The conditioning would however be more successful if there was good relative timing of conditioned stimulus as well as the unconditioned stimulus.
Various effects on variation of conditional procedures can have an objective measure. The lack of an objective way of measuring strengths of classical conditioning makes the procedure inaccurate and less traditional. Painful stimulations cause instant reflexes of procedural behaviours.
The relationship between neutral conditional stimuli and the painful unconditional stimuli therefore requires a measure of a reduced behaviour, when conditional stimulus is present as opposed to when it is absent. A good example of the measure would be determining the reduction of a behaviour (suppression of a conditional reaction), when responding to a reduced conditional stimulus.
The success and strength of classical conditioning depends on ability to determine the extent to which conditional stimulus predicts unconditional stimulus. Predictability requires that the correspondence between occurrences of the two stimuli vary, while ensuring steadiness of the number of times the subject matter becomes exposed to the relationship.
There is a wide chance of learning about the environment, which highly depends on learning the way animals respond to stimuli. The prediction of unconditional stimulus by conditional stimulus is thus the basis for developing stronger models of learning classical conditioning to deeper levels.
Hock, R.R. (2002). Forty studies that changed psychology: Explorations into the history of psychological research. (4th ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education. Web.