You all must have heard about the Pavlov’s experiment on a dog. “It is a process of learning that has a major influence on our behavior. It is a type of learning that occurs through associations between stimulus in the environment and a naturally occurring stimulus.”
There are three stages of classical conditioning theory:
a. Before Conditioning: The first part requires the natural existing stimulus which will automatically elicit the response. For example, presenting a food naturally cause salivation, where presenting food or smell of food is Unconditional Stimulus (UCS) which results in salivation, an Unconditional Response (UCR). At this moment, Neutral Stimulus (a bell alone) has no effect on the response yet.
b. During Conditioning: During this phase, the Neutral Stimulus is paired with the unconditional stimulus. As a result of pairing, an association between neutral stimulus and unconditioned stimulus is formed which now results in a Conditional Stimulus (CS). For example, after triggering a bell (neutral stimulus) along with the smell of food (unconditional stimulus) multiple times, the sound of the bell alone will act as a Conditional Stimulus.
c. After Conditioning: The Conditional Stimulus will evoke the response even without the unconditional stimulus which now results in a Conditional Response (CR). For example, the conditioned response would be feeling hungry when the bell is rung.
Classical conditioning isn’t only for dogs. Human behavior is also influenced quite a bit through it. It occurs in our daily life, but we just fail to recognize them. There are plenty of daily life activities that are associated with classical conditioning theory. Some of them are listed below:
1. Same Chime as your Cell Phone’s
Have you reflexively reached your cellphone while hearing the same chime as yours? Whenever we are around someone’s cellphone and hear their phone ringing as same as our phone, we reflexively reach to our phones and this is due to classical conditioning. Our body shows an unconditional response to the conditional stimulus.
We all get the desire to eat (a Conditional response) at a specific time of a day, say Lunchtime (Conditional stimulus), even though at sometimes, we are not hungry. Similarly, most of the time when we pass through a particular restaurant or cross a food street, we automatically develop a desire to eat rather, even though we do not feel hungry.
3. Getting Vaccinated at School
Do you remember getting vaccinated in a school as a child? As soon as a child starting crying after getting a shot of vaccination, the other students standing in the queue also starts crying. They have already associated the needle with the pain.
4. Association of Something with the Past
Do you have any particular song, object or place that reminds you of your past? When we listen to a specific song, come across any place or object, sometimes they usually remind us of our past incidents.
5. Post Traumatic Disorders
Have you ever been a victim of an accident in your life? People who have been through a traumatic experience may feel a rush of anxiety or respond with fear if they’re found stuck in a similar situation. For example, folks who have been a victim of a car accident may have a hard time stepping inside another vehicle again or who has been a victim of an animal bite may have developed a long time fear towards that animal, even at sometimes that particular animal might not be harmful.
The art of advertising can be considered as a classic case of classical conditioning. Companies make commercial advertisements to attract consumers. To make their products more lucrative, most of the companies use the brand value of celebrities in their advertisements. By associating these celebrities with their products, they try to enhance the market values of their products; as the consumers often get convinced by the campaigns of these celebrities for a particular product.
7. Phobias and Anxiety related Problems
Classical conditioning techniques are helpful to people to cope up with their phobias and anxiety related problem. Teachers in school apply this technique to decrease or remove the anxiety or phobia from the students. They pair an anxiety-provoking situation with pleasant surrounding and help the student to learn new association and behavior. This helps the student to remain calm and stressfree instead of feeling anxious. For example, a student suffering from a stage phobia when encouraged to perform on the stage repeatedly with a positive response, after some time, the phobia of the student will automatically vanish.