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Applications of Classical Conditioning to Human Behavior
Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of classical conditioning in humans, achieving both positive and negative outcomes.
Design a real-life experiment using classical conditioning that would create a new association between stimulus and response.
Classical conditioning was initially discovered to be an effective method of learning in dogs.
Since that time, numerous research studies have found classical conditioning to be effective in humans as well.
John B. Watson conditioned a fear response in little Albert by banging a hammer on a metal pole every time Albert touched a white rat.
Albert initially had no fear of the rat, but soon developed a conditioned fear response to rats.
Little Albert's fear response was not limited to rats and extended to other animals, such as bunnies, that have a similar furry coat.
Classical conditioning is effective in a number of therapeutic treatments in humans, such as eliminating fear and anxiety, or the cessation of smoking and alcoholism.
Classical conditioning was originally discovered by Ivan Pavlov as a means of learning in dogs.
He discovered that he could condition dogs to salivate in response to a buzzer with no food present.
Since that time, many studies have examined the application of classical conditioning in humans.
Research for classical conditioning in humans has looked at both conditioned and unconditioned responses.
Classical Conditioning in Humans
In the early 1900's, John B. Watson carried out a classical conditioning experiment on an infant boy called "little Albert.
" Watson was interested in examining the effects of conditioning on the fear response in humans.
Watson took little Albert when he was just an infant and introduced him to a number of items such as a white rat, a bunny, and a dog .
Little Albert was not fearful of any of the items.
Watson then allowed Albert to play with the rat, but as Albert played, Watson suddenly banged a hammer on a metal bar.
The sound startled Albert and caused him to cry.
Each time Albert touched the rat, Watson banged the hammer on the bar.
Watson was able to successfully condition Albert to fear the rat.
At the sight of the rat, Albert would become extremely distressed.
Additionally, Albert's fear extended to other similar animals and items such as fear of the rabbit.
Unconditioning Responses in Humans
Watson's experiment did not attempt to uncondition the fear response in little Albert.
Other researchers, however, have examined the unconditioning of fear in humans by methods such as exposure to the object of fear.
Desensitization and flooding are two forms of therapy that are aimed at eliminating fear or anxiety toward a stimulus.
Classical conditioning has also found success in treating substance abuse problems such as smoking and alcoholism.
Source: Boundless. “Applications of Classical Conditioning to Human Behavior.” Boundless Psychology. Boundless, 12 Oct. 2014. Retrieved 20 Mar. 2015 from https://www.boundless.com/psychology/textbooks/boundless-psychology-textbook/learning-7/classical-conditioning-46/applications-of-classical-conditioning-to-human-behavior-194-12729/