Educational Psychology: What are the principles of classical conditioning?

2 b i). Explain the principles of classical conditioning

Principles of classical conditioning

  • The principle of reinforcement

When the dog is put in the experimental situation and the tone is sounded and then food is given this constitutes reinforcement. The food is a pleasant event presented to the dog and it constitutes positive reinforcement

  • The principle of extinction

Extinction refers to the dying of the learned response, which occurs when reinforcement is withdrawn. This occurs when a dog has been conditioned to associate the tone or bell with presentation of food and after some time the food is not delivered. When the experimenter rings the bell or sounds the tone without giving the dog food the learned behavior disappears.

  • The principle of spontaneous recovery

Spontaneous recovery is the reappearance of a learned response without the reintroduction of reinforcement. It occurs if a dog that was initially conditioned to associate the sound of the bell or tone with the presentation of food. This dog is taken through the process of extinction. It is then given some resting time where no bells are heard. If this dog is returned to the experimental situation again and the bell is sounded, it will salivate even if no food is given. However, this response dies very fast if reinforcement is not reintroduced.

  • The principle of generalization

Generalization refers to responding to stimuli, which is similar to the original stimuli as long as both are reinforced. This occurs when the experimenter reinforces the dog with food every time he sounds different types or tones or bell sounds. In this training, the dog learns that every time there is a bell sound whatever the type there will be food.

Therefore, the dog learns to respond to similarities. So when there is a tone similar to the one it was conditioned to, it salivates.

  • The principle of discrimination

Discrimination refers learning to pick out the differences in the stimuli and therefore responding to a very specific stimulus. This occurs when a dog has been conditioned to respond to a particular stimulus. If the experimenter introduces other stimuli he does not accompany them with the reinforcement. As a result, the dog learns to pick out the differences in stimuli and to respond to very specific ones. Discrimination training takes a much longer time and more trial to establish.




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