Pavlovian Conditioning

Date: 1890's forward

Type of psychology: Learning

Field of study: Pavlovian conditioning

Pavlovian conditioning is a basic process of learning that relates especially to reflexes and emotional behavior. Interest in this form of learning has been long-standing and continues to the present day. Pavlovian principles apply to a wide range oforganisms, situations, and events.

Key concepts

• conditioned emotional reaction (CER)

• conditioned response (CR)

• conditioned stimulus (CS)

• discrimination

• extinction

• second-signal system

• spontaneous recovery

• stimulus generalization

• systematic desensitization

• unconditioned response (UR)

• unconditioned stimulus (US)

Pavlovian conditioning, also known as respondent conditioning and classical conditioning (as distinguished from instrumental or operant conditioning), is an elementary learning process and has been of major interest to psychologists ever since the Russian physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936) discovered that a dog could learn to salivate to a neutral stimulus after the stimulus was paired repeatedly with food.

Pavlov's early career focused on the study of heart circulation and digestion in animals (usually dogs), for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1904. By that time Pavlov had already turned his attention to experiments on conditioned reflexes, from which flowed a new psychological nomenclature.

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