Classical vs. Operant Conditioning


Classical (Pavlovian) Conditioning

Operant Conditioning

The Response

Involuntary; automatic

Voluntary: the behavior "operates" on (affects) the environment


Associating events in the environment; the CS announces the UCS (i.e., the bell "announces" the food).

Associating a behavioral response with a consequence (either a reinforcer or a punisher).


The CR (salivation) decreases when the CS (bell) is repeatedly presented, but not followed by the UCS (food)

The behavior decreases when reinforcement stops.

(Donít forget, however, that the behavior will probably increase in frequency prior to extinction.)

Cognitive Processes

Subjects develop an "expectation" that the CS (bell) signals the imminent arrival of the UCS (food)

Subjects develop an "expectation" that a behavioral response will be reinforced or punished.

Biological Predispositions

Natural predispositions constrain what stimuli and responses can easily be associated.

Organisms best learn behaviors similar to their natural behaviors; unnatural behaviors instinctively drift back toward natural ones.


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