Psychology Web Module Notes
Classical Conditioning 1
Unconscious, reflexive learning is vital to the survival of a species; a child only needs to touch a
hot stove once to learn to avoid glowing red elements to prevent pain and injury, etc.
There are 2 important unconscious learning processes: classical conditioning and instrumental
Classical conditioning allows us to associate two related events
Instrumental conditioning allows us to associate actions and consequences
Ivan Pavlov- made an observation that dogs would salivate even before the delivery of food in
their mouth. It was as if an early step in the process of digestion was triggered even before the
food stimulus arrived. The sound of a metronome signaled to a dog that food was about to be
Prior to training, the sound of the metronome had no observable effect on the dog’s behaviour.
But following training, a dog would begin salivating in response to the sound of the metronome
alone. This new behaviour was called a conditional reflex.
Contingent relationship- the presentation of one stimulus reliably leads to the presentation of
another. When an organism learns the association between a signal and an event, we say the
contingency has formed between the two stimuli.
Classical Conditioning- the learning of a contingency between a particular signal and a later
event or paired in time and/ or space.
Unconditional Response (UR)- the response that occurs after the unconditional stimulus (US)
Occurs naturally, prior to any learning (reflex or natural response)
Example: the lemon (US) placed in your mouth, causes you to salivate (UR).
Conditional Stimulus (CS)- is a previously neutral stimulus, that after becoming associated with
a US, eventually comes to trigger a response on its own.