Many of you have heard about Pavlov’s dog experiment, a very famous example of classical conditioning we learned about in class. Classical conditioning is a learning process in which two unrelated stimuli are repeatedly paired, and over time a reaction to the second stimulus can be achieved by the first stimulus alone. In Pavlov’s experiment, he paired the two stimuli of ringing a bell, and then giving food to a dog. After several times of first ringing a bell and then feeding the dog, eventually when Pavlov rung the bell the dog would start to salivate without the presence of the food. With only the first stimulus (the bell), the reaction of the second stimulus (salivating to the food) was achieved.
It’s amazing how simple it can be to condition someone or something in this way. I while back, a saw an interesting YouTube video where a student at BGSU “trained” his roommate through classical conditioning for his Psychology class. Over the course of a couple days, while his roommate was unexpectedly studying, the student would hit a Staple’s ‘That was Easy’ button (audibly saying this phrase), and then shoot his roommate with an airsoft gun. After a few times doing this, whenever the student hit the button, his roommate would violently flinch, without being shot at.
Examples of classical conditioning can furthermore be seen in our everyday lives. A simple example for me would be for my dogs, Dazy and Bella. Whenever my dad gets home from work, he opens the garage door making an audible sound heard throughout the house. Over time, they associated the noise of the garage opening with his arrival, and would stop anything and everything they were doing to greet him excitedly at to door. Now whenever the garage door is activated, whether or not someone is arriving at the house, Dazy and Bella excitedly crowd the front door and are more times than not disappointed with the presence of no one.