type of Learning that happens unconsciously, when a neutral stimulus is paired with an unconditioned stimulus that already triggers a natural response. The neutral stimulus then becomes a conditioned stimulus that elicits the same or similar response, which is called a conditioned response.

This process was discovered by Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist, who experimented with dogs and their salivation reflex.

Example of classical conditioning:

  • A student who hears a bell at the end of class may feel relieved (the bell becomes a conditioned stimulus for relief).

Key Principles of Classical Conditioning

Some key principles of classical conditioning are:

  • Acquisition: The initial stage of learning, when the neutral stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus are repeatedly paired until the conditioned response is established.
  • Extinction: The weakening or disappearance of the conditioned response when the conditioned stimulus is no longer paired with the unconditioned stimulus.
  • Spontaneous recovery: The reappearance of the conditioned response after a period of extinction, when the conditioned stimulus is presented again.
  • Generalization: The tendency to respond to stimuli that are similar to the conditioned stimulus, even if they are not identical.
  • Discrimination: The ability to distinguish between the conditioned stimulus and other stimuli that do not signal the unconditioned stimulus.

Classical conditioning has many applications in psychology and everyday life, such as:

  • Treating phobias and anxiety disorders by exposing people to their feared stimuli in a safe and controlled way (systematic desensitization).
  • Creating positive associations with healthy behaviors and negative associations with unhealthy behaviors (aversion therapy).
  • Influencing consumer preferences and attitudes by pairing products or brands with attractive stimuli (advertising).