Differences and Similarities Between Operant and Classical Conditioning

How do classical conditioning procedures differ from operant conditioning procedures? How are they similar? In your opinion, which learning process is more effective? Why?

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You know, after reading the chapter I would have to say that operant conditioning is more effective. Classical conditioning only has one mechanism, association, to affect learning; however, operant conditioning has four separate mechanisms, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment, that bring about learning. It would seem though that operant conditioning is harder to bring about because it is based on behavior first rather than stimulus first. Although it does seem that association plays a secondary role in operant conditioning. It also seems that it is a misnomer to draw stark lines between operant and classical conditioning. Apparently, one can work off the other or they can work in unison. In fact, operant conditioning is highly implicated in Pavlov’s classic example of conditioning. The salivation (CR) of Pavlov’s dogs when the bell rings is positively reinforced by the reward of the food. Operant and classical conditioning are the same in that secondary and tertiary conditioning can be involved with the primary conditioning. In the example of Pavlov’s experiment, the dog might begin to associate the place where he receives the food with the food. Likewise, a secondary reinforcer of the CR of salivation might be that the dog gets a pat on the head for eating the food when the bell rings.

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Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2005). Psychology (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.


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