ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Classical Conditioning—Learning By Association

Updated on September 20, 2020
Ernest Festus profile image

I study various discoveries and try to apply them in my daily life.

Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)
Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)

What is Learning?

Learning is the process where by experience produces a relatively permanent change in behavior. In other words, learning occurs when there is some form of behavioural change as a result of experience. The main point here is that the change must be relatively enduring. When you learn something and forget it in a short time, learning has not occurred. I remember back in high school, I will learn Mathematics so quickly, but I will forget everything I learned within a short period. This is not learning. There are various kinds of learning as identified by Psychologists. We have;

  • Habituation: A decrease in response to stimuli as a result of repeated exposure. For example, you become afraid when you see earthworm, but after a repeated exposure to earthworm, you no longer fear earthworms. Learning has taken place.
  • Classical Conditioning which I will talk about soon.
  • Operant Conditioning: Learning by consequences (reinforcement and punishment).
  • Social Learning: Learning by observation. You see someone engage in an activity and then you emulate and learn along.

Classical Conditioning

Classical Conditioning also known as learning by association is a form of learning in which a person or an organism learns to associate two stimuli, such that one stimulus comes to elicit a response that was elicited by the other stimulus. This form of learning was discovered in the 1800s by the Russian Psychologist and Theologian, Ivan Pavlov.

The Conditioning Process
The Conditioning Process

Pavlov's Discovery Of Classical Conditioning

In the 1860s, there was a renowned Russian psychologist known as Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov was conducting a research on digestion in dogs and even won the Nobel Prize in 1904.

In his study of dogs, Pavlov presented food to dogs and measured their salivary rate. During this time, he accidentally discovered something. This discovery became very important.

He discovered that with repeated presentations, the dogs salivate before the food was brought, even when they hear footsteps coming.

To further confirm the observation, Pavlov and his team associated ringing of bell to the food. Ringing of bell does not cause dogs to salivate, yet after repeatedly associating the sound of the bell with the food, the dogs began to salivate to the sound of the bell alone. This was what brought about the idea of classical conditioning. Hence, classical conditioning is also called Pavlovian conditioning. This discovery became one of the most important discoveries in the history of psychology.

This is important, not because of the specific findings, but because of the underlying principle. This underlying principle is applied in many situations including health, psychiatry, and business activities such as advertisements, marketing and sales promotion.

One of the Pavlovian Dogs
One of the Pavlovian Dogs

Everyday Applications of Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning is a common phenomenon. We practice it everyday. When I was small I feared loud noises, especially when sitting down alone. But I became neutral to loud noises after I started school. The noises from my colleagues in class literally made me adaptive to any form of noise.

The underlying principle here is that phobia or fear is sometimes conditioned. So it is discovered that behavioural treatments that are partly based on the principle of classical conditioning are among the best psychotherapies for phobias. The idea is that if phobias are learned, they can be unlearned.

People who have strong fears for animals such as snakes can unlearn or do away with such fears by probably going to the zoo and watch snakes, first from a long distance, then gradually move closer to the snake, and you will see your fear or phobia disappear into thin air.

Was this article helpful?

See results

© 2020 Ernest Festus Awudey


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)