Pavlov theory of classical conditioning | Pavlov’s experiment Download PDF

Pavlov theory of classical conditioning

Ivan D Pavlov

¢Ivan D Pavlov 1849-1936 is the Russian Physiologist.

¢He propounded the classical conditioning theory in 1903.

¢This theory is also known as Learning by conditioning and conditioned response theory.

¢The main interest of Pavlov was in the study of Gastric secretion of dogs. ¢He won the noble prize  for his work on the digestive process in 1904.

Basic Principle of classical conditioning

¢Classical conditioning is a form of learning whereby a conditioned stimulus (CS) becomes associated with an unrelated unconditioned stimulus (US) in order to produce a behavioral response known as a conditioned response (CR).

¢The unconditioned stimulus is usually a biologically significant stimulus such as food or pain that elicits an unconditioned response (UR) from the start.

¢The conditioned stimulus is usually neutral and produces no particular response at first, but after conditioning it elicits the conditioned response

Pavlov’s experiment

¢Pavlov conducted his experiment on a dog.

¢Earlier he was studying the digestive process of dogs at the end of 19th century.

¢As he conducted his research, he noticed that the dogs would begin to salivate every time he entered the room—even if he had no food.

¢The dogs were associating his entrance into the room with being fed.

¢This led Pavlov to design a series of experiments in which he used various sound objects, such as a buzzer, to condition the salivation response in dogs.

¢Pavlov kept the dog hungry for 24 hrs and kept in a sound proof room.

¢The hungry dog was given food. On seeing the food the dog secreted saliva from its mouth.

¢The secretion of saliva (a natural response) by the dog is natural when it sees the food (a natural stimulus).

¢Now Pavlov linked the ringing of a bell with the food. ¢He would ring the bell (artificial stimulus) seven or eight seconds before he gave the hungry dog the food.

¢On seeing the food the dog would begin to secrete the saliva.

¢The dog, however would not secrete the saliva on hearing the bell ringing but would do son as soon as the food was offered to it.

¢In due course of time the dog began to associate the ringing of the bell with the food.

¢He learnt that the sound of the bell was a signal of the food arriving.

¢Now after several attempts secretion of saliva would begin with ringing of the bell.

¢Now Pavlov stopped offering food but dog would begin secreted saliva on hearing the bell sound.

¢This condition was named as conditioned salivation

Four factors of classical conditioning

¢The Natural unconditioned stimulus was the sight or smell of the food itself.

¢The unconditioned response was the dogs’ natural salivation in response to seeing or smelling their food.

¢The conditioned stimulus was the ringing of the bell, which previously had no association with food.

¢The conditioned response, therefore, was the salivation of the dogs in response to the ringing of the bell, even when no food was present.

Education implications

¢Developing good habits: The classical conditioning theory lays emphasis on association. Discipline, good habits like cleanliness, respect for elders can be developed in the students with the help of this theory. Similarly bad habits can be removed by associating them with reward and punishment.

¢Helpful  in language learning: The teacher can utilize this conditioning method in the classroom for teaching the languages. The correct use of the language makes the child conditioned for the use of that particular language.

¢Helpful in Removal of Superstitions: ¢A teacher can make the use of the conditioning method to eliminate the superstitions of the children. The teacher has to develop faith in the children through conditioning that such types of superstitions have no place in real life situations.

¢Motivating the students: The students can be motivated to learn and study with the help of this theory. Students should be given rewards which will motivate them to learn.

¢Helpful in Adjustment: ¢The conditioning method helps the child in adjusting in various types of environments


¢It is, in the first place, a mechanical theory overlooking the learner’s interest, attention and other higher mental processes.

¢This theory is unsuccessful in explaining voluntary activities.

¢Such type of learning is temporary

¢It is more applied on children and animals.

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