Operant and Classical Conditioning

9 September 2016

Dr. Pamela Allen Phobias and Addictions Phobias and addictions tint the society greatly. According to Kowalski and Westen, (2011) “Phobias are an irrational fear of a specific object or situation” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p. 167). The National Institute of Drug Abuse indicates that the abuse of illicit drugs, tobacco, and alcohol affect the financial aspect of the nation greatly. Because of crime, lost work production and health care, the nation spends 600 million dollars annually (NIDA, 2012).

According to the American Society of Addiction, (2013) “Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavior control, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behavior, and a dysfunctional emotional response” (ASAM, 2013, p. 1). Classical and operant conditioning are in relation to common phobias and present addictions Classical Conditioning vs. Operant Conditioning Classical conditioning and operant conditioning are learning styles associated with human behavior.

Operant and Classical Conditioning Essay Example

According to Kowalski and Westen, (2011) “Classical conditioning is a procedure by which a previously neutral stimulus comes to elicit a response after it is paired with a stimulus that automatically elicits that response” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p. 164). Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist studied the digestive system of a canine, when he came across the discovery of classical conditioning (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). In this learning experiment, he noticed that the canine salivated at the sign of food (Kowalski & Westen, 2011).

The canine engaged in salivating when the food was present by a ringing of a bell (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). This experiment led to the canine salivating at the ringing of the bell even if there were no foods present (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Psychologists refer to this as classical conditioning (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p. 164). Counter to classical conditioning, operant conditioning is faintly diverse. According to Kowalski and Westen, (2011) “Operant conditioning is learning that results when an organism associates a response that occurs spontaneously with a particular environmental effect” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p. 73). There are several types of operant conditioning, which include positive and negative reinforcement and punishment. An example of a positive reinforcement is a child receives a monetary reward for completing the chores. The monetary reward is the positive reinforcer. Although the differences among classical and operant conditioning are not always immediately forward, one can distinguish between the two learning styles by looking for a specific response (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). For instance, in classical conditioning an environmental stimulus initiates a response (Kowalski & Westen, 2011).

Alternatively, operant conditioning produces change in the environment (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Phobias and Classical Conditioning Phobias can develop through classical conditioning. Because the classical conditioning methods pair up with a stimulus, in the same matter phobias develops. In 1920, John Watson and his colleague Rosalie Rayner performed an experiment known as the case of Little Albert (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p. 167). In this case, Watson allows Albert to play with a variety of objects such as a dog, rabbit, a rat, and a Santa clause mask (Kowalski & Westen, 2011).

In the beginning of the study, the objects do not frighten the child but rather he finds the objects delightful. Proceeding with the experiment, Watson bangs a steel bar directly behind the infant’s head (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p. 167). This action produces a negative effect on the child, and he begins to whimper. Soon after that, Mr. Watson begins to associate the negative noise with the objects that Albert finds delightful (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p. 167). Every time Albert places his hands on any of those objects, Dr. Watson bangs the steel bar. At the end of the experiment, Albert becomes fearful of the objects.

The child began to associate the negative noise with the objects and began to touch the objects less (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). According to Kowalski and Westen, (2011) “Studies since Watson and Rayner’s time have proposed classical conditioning as an explanation of some human phobias” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p. 167). Addiction and Operant Conditioning Horvath, Misra, Amy, Cooper (1995-2013) “A substance or activity can only become addicting if it is rewarding” (Para. 2). Individuals have to find particular enjoyment in the substance or activity to abuse it (Horvath, Misra, Amy, Cooper, 1995-2013).

Addiction is a human behavior that individuals can learn (Horvath, Misra, Amy, Cooper, 1995-2013). The addiction process happens because the initial gratification or enjoyment is rewarding (Horvath, Misra, Amy, Cooper, 1995-2013). In relation with the learning style, operant conditioning, behaviors that obtain recompense will always amplify (Horvath, Misra, Amy, Cooper, 1995-2013). A slight concern that arises is that substances and certain activities produce an immediate feeling of reward (Horvath, Misra, Amy, Cooper, 1995-2013). For instance, an individual who daily abuses cocaine.

When the abuser uses cocaine, this produces a sense of belief in which he receives a reward. The abuser thinks that he can only feel a sense of reward by abusing the cocaine. Hence, an addiction of a substance forms. As stated before, the same concept applies as that child receives the monetary reward. Extinction and Classical and Operant Conditioning According to Kowalski and Westen, (2011) “Extinction is classical conditioning is the process by which a conditioned response is weakened by the presentation if the conditioned stimulus (Kowalski and Westen, 2011, p. 69). In other words, the state of fear would weaken, if the objects are presented without the loud noise (Kowalski and Westen, 2011). This fear and the association weaken but it not obliterated. If Watson begins to associate the loud noise with the objects, little Albert’s fear would fire up again. According to Kowalski and Westen, (2011) “The extinction in operant conditioning is the process by which the connection between an operant and the reinforcer is similarly broken” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p. 169).

For example, if a parent seizes to reward a child from completing the usual chores, the child’s drive to complete the chores will slowly diminish. This is why many people in society graduate to different heavier drugs. The extinction process is not always good in certain cases such as drug abuse. Conclusion Phobias and addictions are very evident in society. With the understanding of classical and operant conditioning, psychologists can give solution in overcoming phobias and addictions. This ultimately will make life a little better for those who suffer from phobias and addictions.

References Kowalski, R. , & Westen, D. (2011). Psychology (6th ed. ) Hoboken, NJ: Wiley National Institute of Drug Abuse. (2012). The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction. Retrieved from http://www. drugabuse. gov/related-topics/trends-statistics American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2013). The Voice of Addiction Medicine. Retrieved from http://www. asam. org/for-the-public/definition-of-addiction Horvath, Misra, Amy ,Cooper, T. K. A. G. (1995-2013). Operant Conditioning and Addiction. Retrieved from http://www. sevencounties. org/poc/view_doc. php? type=doc&id=48410&cn=1408

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