Ivan Petrovich Pavlov Classical conditioning was discovered by a famous Russian physiologistnamed Ivan Petrovich Pavlov. After finishing his doctoratedegree Ivan Pavlov traveled to Germany to study in Leipzig with Carl Lidwig inBreslau. While in Germany he studied the digestive tract of dogs using theexteriorized section of the stomach. He later fixed the problem withmaintaining the external nerve supply and now the exteriorized section is knownas the Pavlov pouch. He won the noble prize at the Institute of ExperimentalMedicine on the gastric functions of dogs and children.
This was when he foundout that the dogs actually began salivating before they ate the food. He calledit the “psychic secretion” when he first found out about it. He began workingwith Ivan Filippovitch Tolochinov in 1901 to figure out why the dogs began tosalivate before the food was given to them. He began using a bell before thefood was presented to them, they would then begin to salivate. It is widelybelieved that Ivan Pavlov only used a bell but he used many things suchas,whistles tuning forks, and electric shocks to get the dogs to salivate.Later this work was known in the west with the help of John B. Watson.
John Broadus WatsonJohn Broadus Watson was born in 1878 and was a famous Psychologist fromAmerica. John B. Watson. Watson is mostly known for his “Little Albert”experiment. Even though many believed that this experiment should never havebeen done because it caused harm to the little child, it was still a very importantexperiment to support the claims of Ivan Pavlov.
This experiment was done tofigure out if classical conditioned can be done to make a child scared wheneverhe saw a white rat. Watson would present the white rat to the baby and whilethe Little Albert was playing with the rat John. B Watson would slam to largeiron rods behind him. Little Albert would then cry because the loud soundscared him. After many times of this Little Albert would begin to cry wheneverhe saw anything fluffy and white, not just a rat, and without the loud sound.This proved that classical conditioning also works with humans, not just dogs.
Little Albert was never de-conditioned, which is what caused the biggestoutrage. Recently it was discovered the mother that gave Little Albert was onlypaid 1$ for the experiment. The baby’s real name was Douglass and he died atthe age of six because of hydrocephalus.
Hydrocephalus is a disease that occurswhen there is a lot of fluid around the brain and the spinal cord which putspressure on the brain, causing harm to the human, and in this case, death.Douglas did not receive Hydrocephalus from the experiment, he had it sincebirth, so the experiment was not what killed him. It is still unknown if he hadthe fear of fluffy white things when he died.
Watanabe H, Mizunami MThe most recent experiment that was done to test classical conditioningwas created by Watanabe H, Mizunami M. This experiment was done with Americancockroaches, Periplaneta Americana, and instead of sound, scents were used. Thecockroaches would receive drops of sugar syrup, and then a sound would play.After many repetitions the cockroaches would begin to salivate when they simplyhear the sound.
This was a very important experiment because this proves thatclassical conditioning not only affects dogs and humans, but also cockroaches.Classical conditioning and my behaviourAs we have come to learn, Classical conditioning influences ourbehavior, because our mind associates feelings, sense of smell, thoughts,memories in other words as mentioned, the conditioned stimulus is now fullytied in with the unconditioned stimulus, which creates a new conditionedresponse (CR). However, it can also treat phobias. The most common phobia inthe world is arachnophobia, which is the fear of spiders. This phobia can actuallybe treated with counter-conditioning.
Counter conditioning is based on theprinciples of classical conditioning that attempts to replace bad or unpleasantemotional responses to a stimulus with more pleasant, adaptive responses. That`sexactly what happened to me. As a small girl I use to cry and scream over thesmallest spider, even though the spider was eventually went away, I would stillcry for hours because just the sight of a spider made me so scared. It was anintense fear, that I had since I was 2 till I was 8 years old. Eventually mymother felt she had to do something, because the slightest furry thing on thefloor would scare me badly. She was advised by a child psychologist to show mea picture of a spider, and then give me a “relaxing stimuli” so that the nexttime that I actually saw a spider I will associate the spider with thatrelaxing stimuli. My mother was hesitating on this advice, but was assured thatthe “relaxing stimuli” could be something as simple as a cookie, a toy that Iliked, or a song I enjoyed.
Therefore, every third day my mom presented a photoof a spider, and sang the song “itzty bitzy spider” to make me remember that thespider was a little victim of the rain, not a scary little monster as I alwayssaw them as. At first, I screamed and cried when my mom showed me the spiderbook, (even thought it was a cartoon spider!) this is expected when goingthrough classical counter conditioning, the fear or phobias cannot be curedonly by initiating classical counter conditioning once. It takes patience and determinationfor the person who is “conditioning” the new response, (CR conditionedresponse) cannot be achieve overnight. This can vary from hours to years. So, in order for classical counterconditioning to take place, time is essential. Therefore, it took me a good 3months to associate the scary spiders, with poor “itzy bitzy spiders”. The newconditioned response (CR) of a spider got me thinking of the story of the itzybitzy spider, which triggered compassion instead of fear, because I had been conditionedwith the song for 3 months.
Therefore, my brain associated spiders, with helplessvictims being washed away by the rain (as the song goes). Furthermore, my compassionbecame the conditioned response in this matter. I did not react in fear as I useto every time I saw a spider afterwards, but with compassion in getting thespider out to its natural sunny environment.
I still have the same compassionatereaction when I see spiders till this day. My changed behavior is a result of classicalcounter conditioning.