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Description and Contrast of Classical and Operant Conditioning

Behavioral psychology has significantly changed over the years. Learning institutions widely emphasize the notions of classical and operant conditioning. These two conditioning approaches are fundamental to behavioral psychology (Zimbardo, Weber, & Johnson, 2009). While both emerge from continuous learning, their means are quite diverse. It is imperative to grasp how classical and operant conditioning differ from each other. This term paper describes and contrasts classical and operant conditioning to recognize how one can use each of their behavior modification styles.

Classical conditioning constitutes combining an unconditioned stimulus with a formerly neutral stimulus to produce an automatic behavior (Zimbardo, Weber, & Johnson, 2009). For instance, the unconditioned stimulus can be the taste of honey while the neutral stimulus can be sound of music. This stimulus mainly generates salivating as a reaction to honey, known as the unconditioned response. However, after drooling at the neutral stimulus, the music sound will begin to stimulate drooling as a reaction. In the circumstances, the music sound is the conditioned stimulus and drooling is the conditioned response.

Classical conditioning adopts stimulus generalization and discrimination (Zimbardo, Weber, & Johnson, 2009). If the conditioned stimulus generates the same reactions after the reactions have been conditioned, we term it as stimulus generalization. For instance, if an individual has been trained to fear a gun, he will demonstrate fear of things similar to the conditioned stimulus, including a toy gun. He adopts experimental neurosis; his behavior is unstable at the sight of the gun as a result of fear. Nonetheless, he can possess stimuli discrimination in case the object is not similar to the gun.

Operant conditioning concentrates on utilizing reinforcement to boost or diminish a behavior. One develops an association between the behavior and the impact of that conduct (Zimbardo, Weber, & Johnson, 2009). Schedule of reinforcement measures this behavior. For example, a coach was attempting to teach me to swim using an efficient stroke technique. When I mastered the stroke, I obtained a certificate as a reward from the reinforcer, the coach. Nevertheless, faiing the training would facilitate the reinforcer to withhold the certificate and extinction would follow since my act would no longer be reinforced. I developed an association between my conduct of mastering the stroke and obtaining the craved reward. I accomplished my fitness swimming exercise after continuously practicing the stroke because of the law of effect. It has influenced my life by improving cardiovascular health and burning extra calories. It has improved my overall health. At times, I received negative punishment from the coach for occasionally missing training sessions. I came up with valid excuses for missing the training session and got positive punishment, thereby resuming training.

Contrast Between Classical and Operant Conditioning

Classical conditioning constitutes developing an association between an unintentional response and a stimulus. Its unconditioned stimulus adheres to conditioned stimulus during practice irrespective of whether the conditioned response happens or not. In contrast, operant conditioning entails forming an association between a spontaneous behavior and an outcome Zimbardo, Weber, & Johnson, 2009).The tutor compensates the athlete with incentives. The athlete learns the recommended technique via shaping. The coach recognizes the success of the athlete and applauds him through issuing a reward. This action is positive reinforcement since the accolade happens after the success of the athlete. In case the tutor denies the athlete the reward, it depicts negative reinforcement. Because of this, lack of the reward will weaken the athlete’s behavior. In contrast, classical conditioning constitutes no such awards.

Classical conditioning constitutes responses that are receptive. This response may include spontaneous recovery, extinction, stimulus generalization, acquisition and mental connection between stimuli and reactions. The management of stimulus events facilitates this and anticipates the response. In comparison, operant contingencies are characterized by reinforcement, such as reinforcement contingencies, intermittent, and continuous reinforcement (Zimbardo, Weber, & Johnson, 2009). A crucial example of a reinforcement contingency is when a child does all his or her home chores and obtains excellent grrades, the parents are likely to buy him or her a desired toy or any other good. This would reinforce and endorse constructive behavior.

Operant conditioning relies on voluntary demeanor while classical conditioning incorporates spontaneous reflexive behavior. Also, operant conditioning utilizes a fixed-interval schedule in its reinforcement. The interval schedule relies on the reinforcement. The initial response is remunerated only after a particular amount of time has passed. For instance, a monthly paycheck denotes a fixed-interval schedule. The paycheck is the secondary reinforcer and the satisfaction attained after receiving the check is the primary reinforcer. The worker obtains a reinforcement after every month. However, if the award is given to the initial response after a random amount of time, it is a variable interval schedule. These reactions may be reinforced only after stated counts of responses (Zimbardo, Weber, & Johnson, 2009). For instance, a lab technician is tutoring a lab rat to press a button to obtain a food pellet. If this situation happens, then it suggests a fixed-ratio schedule. In case, these responses are reinforced after unpredictable counts of responses, it indicates a variable ratio schedule. A vivid example of it are gambling or sweepstake.

In contrast to operant conditioning, classical conditioning infuses correlation of stimuli and responses (Zimbardo, Weber, & Johnson, 2009). For instance, using the operant chamber, animals, especially dogs, might possess an instinctive drift that facilitates them to go back to instinctive act that inhibits a particular conditioned response. Based on the notion of token economy, a reward is given to a guard dog as a token after catching criminal in hot pursuit. Similarly, parents tell their children to complete their homework, which is an undesirable act, before, for instance, playing the PlayStation, which is a chosen behavior. It indicates a Premak principle that establishes a desirable behavior (Zimbardo, Weber, & Johnson, 2009).

In conclusion, classical and operant conditioning are significant in the contemporary environment. Teachers, scholars, psychologists, and animal trainers are utilizing these approaches identifying how they can adopt each of the behavior modification styles.

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