Classical conditioning was discovered by Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist and psychologist. In the early twentieth century, Ivan Pavlov was studying in physiology particularly on digestion. He measured the amount of salivation by putting an amount of food on a dog’s tongue. Further, Pavlov noticed that the dog began salivating as soon as the dog saw the food or when the dog saw an experimenter enter the room. Pavlov noticed that the dog learned to salivate even though the dog just saw the food or the one who brings the food. He then guess that if dogs learned to salivate because the dog saw the food, it might be possible that they might salivate to another forms of stimuli such as the sound of the bell, by following the stimuli with the taste of the food.
There are four elements involve in classical conditioning. These elements are the (US) or unconditioned stimulus; the (UR) or eunconditioned response; the (CS) or conditioned stimulus; and the (CR) or conditioned response.
In the case of Ivan Pavlov’s experiment, the food which was offered to the dog serves as the US (unconditioned stimulus); the salivation caused by the food serves as the UR (unconditioned response); the sound of the bell rang just before the food serves as the CS (conditioned stimulus); while the salivation caused by the sound of the bell serves as the CR (conditioned response).
In the process of classical conditioning, the subject (the dog for example) learns to respond to the CS (the sound of the bell), even if the US (the food) is not presented.
In other words, the dog salivates when the dog hears the sound of the bell even though there is no food being presented because the dog was being conditioned to the sound of the bell which was presented before giving the food.
However, the strength of the CR or the conditioned response will become weaker, each time the US or the unconditioned stimulus is not presented to the subject.
In other words, in Pavlov’s experiment. Case, the possibilities of the dog to salivate upon hearing the bell will go weaker and weaker if the food will no longer be presented following the conditioned stimulus which is the sound of the bell.
However, the number of trials necessary to perform classical conditioning varies considerably in different subjects.
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