Classical conditioning and operant conditioning have different approaches to explaining how learning occurs. Firstly, classical conditioning attributes learning to involuntary responses that come from experiences preceding response (Lavond & Steinmetz, 2012). When conducting scientific research in any field, it is not sufficient to simply design thoughtful and informative experiments to explore ideas and hypotheses. The experiments must be conducted in such a manner that the data generated effectively address the ideas and hypotheses under study. Collecting good data necessitates the use of good methods, techniques, and instrumentation. Behavioral neuroscience is most certainly a field that, over the years, has required novel, inventive, and effective methods and techniques to collect data on a rather difficult subject, namely, how the brain and nervous system encode behavior. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about the field of behavioral neuroscience is that most scientists in this field are engaged in a variety of activities it is not always the same boring routine. The rule, not the exception, in this field is that investigators are trained in a variety of techniques and skills. This work requires knowledge of skills in such diverse techniques as surgery, animal training, basic electronics, computer programming, statistics, and histology, as well as having a good theoretical background knowledge of the relevant literature and the creativity and logic necessary to design and execute critical experiments. One does not have to be an expert in all of these skills, and conversely not all skills require an expert (Lavond & Steinmetz, 2012). On the contrary, operant conditioning opines that learning takes place when experiences come after a response. Unlike classical conditioning, this theory is largely based on voluntary behaviour. Secondly, classical conditioning uses the association of stimuli and responses to explain behaviour while operant conditioning relies on reinforcement and punishment to explain behaviour (Coon & Mitterer, 2014)
PSYCHOLOGY: MODULES FOR ACTIVE LEARNING is a best-selling text by renowned author and educator Dennis Coon and coauthor John O. Mitterer. This thirteenth edition continues to combine the highly effective SQ4R (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Reflect, Review) active learning system, an engaging style, appealing visuals, and detailed coverage of core topics and cutting-edge research in one remarkable, comprehensive text. Fully updated and reorganized, the new edition builds on the proven modular format, extensive special features, and teaching and learning tools integrated throughout the text. While the text provides a broad overview of essential psychology topics ideal for introductory courses, its modular design also readily supports more specialized curricula, allowing instructors to use the self-contained instructional units in any combination and order.
Both classical and operant conditioning have been instrumental in changing my behaviors. Classical conditioning has influenced my behavior towards dogs. I fear dogs a lot. I can trace my fear of dogs to my teenage years when I got bitten by one. From the time, the sight of a dog frightens me. In this example, the fear of dogs is a conditioned response that results from associating the sight of a dog with dog bites.
In my junior high, I used to perform well in Chemistry. Every time I answered a question correctly, my teacher would shower me with praises and sometimes gifts like sweets. The praises and gifts encouraged me to work harder. This is a life example of operant conditioning. Praises and gifts are positive reinforcers of behaviour and are meant to sustain the desired behaviour.
Operant conditioning is applicable in my life. For instance, I am currently attending fitness clubs with the aim of reducing weight. My desired outcome (reduction of weight) is the reward or positive reinforce that makes me never to miss the fitness sessions. As a future behavioral psychologist, I am also going to use classical conditioning to eradicate maladaptive behaviors in my clients. For example, to reduce anxiety in an individual, I will expose him or her to situations evoke fear. The more I expose such person to frightening situations, and nothing bad happens to him or her, the less anxious the person will become.
Coon, D., & Mitterer, J. O. (2014). Psychology: Modules for Active Learning. Cengage Learning.
Lavond, D., & Steinmetz, J. (2012). Handbook of Classical Conditioning. Springer Science & Business Media.
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