Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939584 | Print ISBN: 9780761930877 | Online ISBN: 9781412939584| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
J. M. Blackbourn & Debbie Chessin
Conditioning theory involves both respondent conditioning and operant conditioning. In essence, conditioning theory holds that the chance of specific, observable responses can be increased by pairing positive consequences with appropriate antecedents and/or desired behaviors. Respondent or classical conditioning involves the pairing of a specific antecedent (stimulus) with a given consequence that will produce a reflexive response. Pavlov's experiments in classical conditioning involved pairing a bell with the presentation of food to induce salivation in a dog. Eventually, the bell alone was sufficient to elicit the salivation response. An example of classical conditioning in the educational profession would be a teacher who is verbally demeaning, intimidating, and abusive to students to the extent that the students become anxious and hypersensitive. Eventually, the students might respond with anxiety prior to the teacher's class or simply to hearing the teacher's name. Operant or instrumental conditioning involves following a given response with When ...