The conditioning - The formation of a specific physical or behavioural response to a particular stimulus in the environment.

In classical conditioning, a stimulus that consistently evokes a particular response is paired repeatedly with a second stimulus that would not normally produce the response. Eventually, the second stimulus begins to produce the response whether or not the first stimulus is present.

This phenomenon was shown by the physiologist Ivan Pavlov. He observed that dogs salivated in anticipation of food (an unconditioned response to a stimulus). He then devised a procedure in which a bell was rung every time a dog was given food; once the procedure had been repeated several times, the dog began to salivate every time it heard the bell (a conditioned response to a stimulus) even if no food was presented.

In operant conditioning, attempts are made to modify behaviour by rewarding or punishing a subject (animal or human) every time the subject shows a particular response to a specific stimulus. A response that is rewarded will be reinforced and become more frequent, while one that is punished will be inhibited and become less frequent.

Behavioural psychology (see behaviour therapy) is based on the idea that inappropriate behaviour patterns in some psychological disorders are learned through conditioning. It is thought that these patterns can be modified by the same process of conditioning.


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