USING CLASSICAL VS OPERANT CONDITIONING
What procedure (choose either classical or operant conditioning) is being described or
has probably resulted in the following behavior patterns? Be able to explain why you
chose the model you did.
1. In order to be able to punish my cat even when I'm not near enough to reach him, I
have paired the sound of a clicker with getting squirted with water. Now the sound of the
clicker causes him to startle.
The click is developing the same aversive properties as the water through Classical
Conditioning. The Unconditioned stimulus is the water; the Unconditioned response is
the "jump" as in startle. The click starts our as a neutral stimulus, but becomes the
Conditioned stimulus capable of producing the Conditioned "jump" response.
2. My cat never gets on the furniture when I am around.
The behavior being described here is probably the result of Operant conditioning. When I
am around, the cat is probably punished for getting on the furniture. He has formed a
discrimination between when I'm around and when I'm not and might be getting on the
furniture when I'm not around.
3. When I first start teaching about a concept, I'll praise any answer that is close to the
This describes the process of shaping the operant behavior of answering questions. In
shaping you start by reinforcing anything that is close to the final response. Then you
gradually require closer and closer approximations before giving a reinforcer. So this is
an example of Operant conditioning.
4. The smell of fresh bread baking makes my mouth water.
This is probably the result of Classical conditioning. In the past the smell of the fresh
bread immediately preceded putting a piece in my mouth, which causes salivation.
Through the mechanism of Classical conditioning the smell itself comes to elicit
5. In a weight management class, participants earn points for every healthy meal they eat
and every period of exercise they complete. Later these points result in refunds of their
The behaviors being conditioned here are healthy eating and regular exercise. The
reinforcement is the refund of the fees. So this too is Operant conditioning. The points are
a version of a token system since they are exchanged for the refunds later.
6. When my son has gone for a week without arguing with his sister, he gets to choose
which favorite activity he wants to engage in on Friday night.
Here I am using Premack reinforcement by letting my son engage in a favorite activity
when he has been able to refrain from arguing for a week. This is an example of
differential reinforcement of other behavior, anything other than arguing will be
reinforced in this Operant conditioning paradigm.
7. After the bad car accident we had last year, I cringe and break into a sweat at the sound
of squealing brakes.
This is Classical conditioning. The cringing, which is an unconditioned response to pain
or fear, was produced by the accident and its accompanying pain. That accident was
probably preceded by the sound of squealing brakes, which became a conditioned
stimulus for the conditioned response of cringing.
8. To treat alcoholics, we sometimes put a chemical in their drinks that makes them sick.
Eventually the taste of alcohol become aversive.
This is Classical conditioning. The chemical that makes the drinker sick is being paired
with the taste of alcohol so that the alcohol itself becomes the conditioned stimulus for