Classical conditioning and operant conditioning are two different ways people learn things and develop certain behaviors. People can develop phobias and addictions through classical and operant conditioning. “In classical conditioning, an environmental stimulus leads to a learned response, through pairing of an unconditioned stimulus with a previously neutral conditioned stimulus. The result is a conditioned response, or learned reflex” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, “Learning”, p. 167). A behavior produces an environmental response in operant conditioning.
An example the text gives us if that of a cat learning how to open a latch in order to gain access to food. The cat saw the food on the outside of the box and eventually opened the latch which allowed the cat out of the box and gave her access to the food. After repeating the experiment numerous times the cat learned how to open the latch almost immediately in order to get to the food. The consequences of our behaviors will produce future behaviors. Reinforcement and Punishment are two types of consequences that will be further discussed along with extinction and how it is linked to operant and classical conditioning.
Classical and operant conditioning are similar, yet differ as well. Phobias can be developed through classical conditioning by us experiencing something that makes us to react to a certain way every time we are put in that situation. For example, if someone were to get extremely sick after eating fish before they may not want to eat fish ever again. They may develop a fear of eating fish because they are afraid that it will make them sick. It may be to the extent of just smelling the fish that can stimulate a reaction such as being nauseous just from the smell of fish.
An example from the text discusses how Watson and Rayner experimented with classical conditioning with a nine month old boy. They showed the boy a few objects and he showed no fear for any of the objects. One object was a white rat which the boy, Albert, actually enjoyed to play with. They then tested to see the boy’s reaction to a loud noise and the boy reacted by jumping, falling forward, and then whimpering.
This experiment shows how someone can develop a phobia through classical conditioning. B. F. Skinner came up with what he called superstitious behavior stating that people can mistakenly associate an operant with an environmental event. This is how someone may develop a phobia with operant conditioning. Addictions can be learned through modeling, which is a type of classical conditioning. If a child sees their parent smoking as they grow up they make develop the addition of smoking through their parent modeling the addiction. These are ways that phobias and addictions can be developed through classical and operant conditioning. There are differences between classical and operant conditioning.
One difference between operant and classical conditioning is what produces the response. For example, in classical conditioning an environmental stimulus is what will produce the response. On the other hand in operant conditioning a behavior will produce the response. Consequences control future behaviors when referring to operant conditioning. Two different types of consequences are reinforcement and punishment. One example of this would be if a child receives ice cream every time they get an “A” on their test. The child is likely to try their hardest to get an ”A” in order to receive ice cream as a treat.
The child is being reinforced to get good grades. Punishment, on the other hand, is a consequence that tries to eliminate a certain behavior. For instance, if the child gets an “F” on their test they will be grounded. The consequence here is the child getting grounded. This is to try to get the child to get better grades, because they know that they will be grounded if they do not. “Extinction occurs if enough conditioning trials pass in which the operant is not followed by the consequence previously associated with it” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, Learning, p. 178).
For example, if the child does not get ice cream every time they receive an “A” on their tests they may not try as hard to get an ”A. ” Not repeating the positive reinforcement may lead to the extinction of the original operant conditioning being that the child getting good grades. “Extinction in classical conditioning refers to the process by which a CR is weakened by presentation of the CS without the UCS” (Kowalski & Westen, Learning, 2011, p. 169). The text gives the example of how a dog can learn to distinguish when he is going to be fed by hearing the bell ring and then being served food immediately afterwards.
If the dog salivates every time he hears the bell ring because he associates the ringing of the bell with food then what happens if the dog is not fed immediately after the ringing of the bell? The answer is that the dog’s relation toward food and the ringing of the bell will weaken which will in turn make the dog less likely to salivate. If the dog does salivate this is known as spontaneous recovery, which will eventually stop throughout time without bringing the CS and the UCS together again. Classical and operant conditioning are two ways people may develop certain behaviors.
In classical conditioning there is an environmental stimulus that initiates the response and creates the future behavior. In operant conditioning the environment will produce consequences that will create new behaviors to form. Both classical and operant conditionings are two types of learning. They both produce future behaviors just in different ways. Phobias and Addictions can be formed through both classical and operant conditioning. There is a good possibility to stop an addiction through extinction.
If, for example, someone were addicted to drugs they can go to a rehab facility and go through a program. This will take them out of their natural environment and put them in an environment where they can learn to not use drugs. It is interesting to see the comparison between operant and classical conditioning as well as the link between these types of learning and phobias and addictions.
Kowalski, R. , & Westen, D. (2011). Psychology (6th ed. ). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.