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Classical conditioning worksheet:

Classical conditioning is a form of associative learning, learning produced by pairing of stimuli and responses in time and place. It contributes to likes and dislikes, emotional reactions, and reflex-like responses to things. Below, explain the situation being described in terms of classical conditioning. For each description, identify or suggest the US, UR, CS, CR, as well as the principles likely to be at work.

  1. While caring for a friends dog, you notice that it displays a fear-like posture as you roll up a newspaper. You try this several times more and become convinced that this dog is generally afraid of rolled up newspapers.

US: dog's previous experience with being disciplined with newspaper (pain).

CS: Rolled up newspaper

UR: Fear (natural response to being hit)

CR: Fear (at sight of rolled up newspaper)

Principle: Nothing special beyond simple conditioning.  Perhaps generalization to others holding newspapers.

  1. Joan, an animal trainer, has been phobic about monkeys since an earlier attack. However, because of the money, she has agreed to work with monkeys for a movie studio. At first, just going anywhere near cages makes Joan tense, sweaty, and apprehensive. Lately, though, things have changed. Working with such cuddly, affectionate, human-like creatures is causing Joan to wonder why she ever felt such extreme distress.

US: Previous attack, pain.

CS: Cages, sight of monkeys

UR: Fear (at time of attack)

CR: Fear (felt when seeing cages, monkeys)

Principle: Extinction is occurring because of repeated exposure to the CS (cages, monkeys) without another exposure to the US (attack, pain).

    Additionally, you might note that a bit of counter-conditioning is occurring-- she is feeling calm, positive feelings while being exposed to a stimulus (monkeys) that used to cause fear.

  1. At a red light, Bob and Fred automatically tensed and felt chills when they heard the screech of tires behind them. Later, while watching a car race, Bob remarked how the screeching of tires was having little effect then. Fred agreed and wondered why they reacted at all, because neither had as much as a dent on his driving record.

Higher-order conditioning is occurring here-- The dangers of a car accident have been well-learned, even if never experienced. However, the mental images of an accident become a powerful CS in their own right. So:

CS1: Possibility of a car accident.

CS2: Tires screeching

CR1: Flinch, tense-up (at imminent danger)

CR2: Flinch, tense-up in response to screeching tires.

Principle: Stimulus discrimination-- given the context of the situation (accompanying stimuli), screeching tires have better ability to predict possible danger at an intersection than at a race track.

  1. Early in their relationship, the mere sight of Donna excited Jack. This gradually died out, however, as Donna behaved tolerantly but indifferently. When the relationship ended, Jack was bored with Donna and didn't even think about her for the next year. Now, he was surprised at how excited he was becoming as he saw Donna through the window of a bus.

Again, a bit of higher-order conditioning occurring. Jack had come to expect (sexual) stimulation within a relationship-- a connection made through experience, expectations, etc. Ultimately, the US here would be sexual stimulation.

CS: Donna

UR: Arousal, excitement

CR: Arousal, excitement (at sight of Donna)

Principles: Two going on here. Initially, extinction, because of no stimulation (US) occurred in the presence of Donna (CS). The other principle, spontaneous recovery, occurred when he saw her again after a delay of time. That's the reemergence of a conditioned response after it has been extinguished (and why people should be very cautious at high school reunions!)

  1. Bill couldn't ever remember being so sick and nauseated. He would never go to that restaurant again, and he would never eat chicken again. All he could think about was the good dinner his mother would prepare for his homecoming. As he entered the kitchen, he became flushed and felt nauseated when he saw the golden brown turkey sitting on the table.

US: Whatever bacteria or virus that caused him to become nauseated.

CS: Taste, smell, look of chicken.

UR: Nausea (from pathogen)

CR: Nausea (from sight of chicken)

Principle: Generalization is happening-- not only does he react to chicken, but other foods that are similarly "fowl." This is the opposite of stimulus discrimination.

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