Classical and Operant Conditioning

Classicaland Operant Conditioning

AlliedAmerican University

Classicaland Operant Conditioning

Classicalconditioning entails learning which involves pairing of a previousneutral stimulus (conditioned stimulus, (CS)) with an unconditionedstimulus (UCS) eliciting in an unconditioned response (UCR)(Clark&amp Squire, 1998).This results in the CS eliciting a conditioned response (CR)identical or similar to the UCR. In an attempt to try the method, Iused our cat for the experiment.I started the trial by hitting theplate our kittens eat from using a spoon. Whenever I went to feed thekitten with milk, I keenly observed how the cat responded to thesound of the plate. Initially, when I hit the plate, the cat would torun towards me. This was followed by purring, licking of its mouthand salivating.

However,after repeated attempts, the kittens could just run towards me, startpurring, licking their mouth and salivating even when I was notcarrying milk to feed them. Additionally, I found out that thekittens learned the conditioned response faster when I shortened theinterval between hitting the plate and presenting the milk. From myexperiment, I could tell that a stimulus could become associated withmilk to result in purring and salivation on its own.

Itherefore referred the plate the conditioned stimulus since itsimpact depended on its association with the milk. I referred the milkas the unconditioned stimulus since its impact was independent of theprevious experience. Nonetheless, the reaction to the plate was theconditional response (CR) and that of the milk was the unconditionalresponse (UR).

Iused my younger sister, Tracy, to try the application of the operantconditioning. Isaacs,Thomas &amp Goldiamond (2013) holdthat operant conditioning entails learning whereby the consequencesof behavior result in a change in the likelihood of occurrence of thebehavior. Characteristically, Tracy always gave us a headachewhenever she was asked to take food. She would often eat very littleand spill the rest on the table. Therefore, I made my mind to teachher to finish her food whenever she is asked to eat. I started byplacing the place with the food on the table and ask her to take it.

Atfirst, she did not know what to do with the plate of food. She couldjust swirl the spoon round the plate with a frown. So I taught her byfirst praising her every time she accidentally put a spoonful of foodin her mouth before dropping it. She responded to the praisepositively, so she started to eat little by little. Then I praisedher only when ate quarter and half the plate. When she continueddoing this often, I praised her only when she managed to take thewhole food. Pretty soon, she managed to take the whole foodregularly, thus I succeeded in shaping response. In this experiment,I called the praises to the reinforcement, particularly positivereinforcement.

Acomparison of the above two scenario can justify the claim that thetrial of operant conditioning method was more successful than that ofclassical conditioning. This can be attributed to the fact thatdespite Tracy’s difficult character, I managed to shape herresponse. This is depicted from her new response towards eating inwhich she has committed herself to eating at least three quarters oreven the whole meal she is asked to take.


Clark,R. E., &amp Squire, L. R. (1998). Classical conditioning and brainsystems: the role of awareness. Science,280(5360),77-81.

Isaacs,W., Thomas, J., &ampGoldiamond, I. (2013). Application of operantconditioning to reinstate verbal behavior in psychotics. Experimentsin Behavior Therapy: Readings in Modern Methods of Treatment ofMental Disorders Derived from Learning Theory,207.