Classical Conditioning

Classical Conditioning
Valerie L. Austin
February 13, 2012
Dorothy Rodwell, LMFT

Classical Conditioning
          Classical conditioning can be defined as the response observed after placing a neutral signal before a naturally occurring reflex. To understand classical conditioning, it is important to know more about the principals of the process. Once the conditioned stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus are paired a number of times, with the conditioned stimulus always preceding the unconditioned stimulus, the conditioned stimulus can be presented alone and the organism will still respond with the same unconditioned response (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2009).
Who Made Classical Conditioning Famous?
        The phenomenon of classical conditioning was discovered independently in the United States and Russia around the turn of the nineteenth century (Clark, 2004). While Edwin Twitmyer was making the discovery of classical conditioning working on his dissertation work on the “knee-jerk” reflex; when the patellar tendon is lightly tapped with a doctor’s hammer, the well known “knee-jerk” reflex is elicited (Clark, 2004).   During the experiment, Twitmyer stated to his subjects that a bell would be struck a half second before the tendon was tapped, and this was a signal to the subject to verbalize or clench his or her fists. Twitmyer observed there were subjects that would automatically kick both legs after the bell was rung; even with little to no tap to the tendon following the bell. While Twitmyer was busy in the United States, Ivan Pavlov was busy in Russia working on his experiment made famous with his dog. Pavlov's classic experiment with dogs, the neutral signal was the sound of a tone and the naturally occurring reflex was salivating in response to food (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2009). While many psychologists refer to Pavlov’s dog experiment (using a bell and food), classical conditioning can be used to reach a desirable affect in any area...