Classical conditioning is
a process in which an animal learns to associate one event that comes
immediately after another event. The animal does not have to do anything
in order for this association to take place.
was discovered by the Russian scientist Pavlov. In his lab, Pavlov
brought food to dogs. When the food was shown to the dogs, they began
salivating. Then, Pavlov preceded the food with a ring of a bell. He
rang the bell and immediately brought the food. He repeated it many
times. Bell ring, show food, dog salivates, and again and again.
Now, here’s the cool
part. Pavlov now decided to ring the bell without bringing the food. He
rung the bell, DID NOT bring the food, and……guess what – the dogs still
What happened? The dog
has learned the association between the bell and the food. Since the
bell was rung, the food must be coming – hence, saliva.
How is this information
takes place all the time whether we want it or not. The door bell rings,
your dog jumps up and runs to the door – why? The association between
the door bell ringing and the showing up of people right after that was
made after many times this happened – this is classical conditioning at
Your dog hears the noise
that a collar, tags, and leash make (you know those noises) – he turns
around and looks for a dog. Why? An association was made between those
noises and the appearance of a dog.
can be used for behavior modification in the process of counter
conditioning. We can deliberately make an association between 2 events
in order to create positive association between them. This will be
explained further in the desensitization & counter conditioning page.