Classical conditioning

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  • Learning of the association between two stimuli by capitalising on instinctive responses.
  • Pavlov paired ringing of bell and the appearance of meat powder to see if dogs could acquire the association, ie salivate.
  • Meat powder was the unconditioned stimulus. Salivating to the meat powder was the unconditioned response.
  • Ringing the bell was the conditioned stimulus. Salivating to the bell was the conditioned response.
  • It takes three things to acquire associations
    1. Repetition
      • Being exposed multiple times to pair the two stimuli
    2. Temporal contiguity
      • Two stimuli should happen close enough together in time
    3. Differential contingency
      • When the conditioned stimulus occurs, the unconditioned stimulus will come


  • Very little attention to the idea that people may actively try to learn something
  • No attention to the idea of feedback
  • The idea of rewards and punishment are important aspects of how we learn is not addressed

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