I found conditioning, both classical and operant, to be one of the most interesting and useful topics covered in this course. Pavlov used dogs, meat powder, and a metronome to prove that a previously neutral stimulus can be paired with another stimulus to elicit an automatic response. Known as classical conditioning, this idea has been seized by advertisers, who have found that by pairing their product with enjoyable stimuli, such as attractive men and women, they can increase desire for their product. Operant conditioning refers to learning controlled by consequences of the organism's behavior. B.F. Skinner proved it with rats where he used what came to be known as the Skinner box, but operant conditioning runs much deeper than this. Through the use of punishment and reinforcement behaviors of animals and humans alike can be controlled. Operant conditioning is the basis for our our prison system (punishment) and job salaries (reinforcement), especially those that are incentive based. Conditioning is constantly occurring, but often goes unnoticed. For example, simply being told "good job" is operant conditioning in progress. And as the following clip from The Office shows maybe humans are as susceptible to classical conditioning as Pavlov's dogs are.
Why Do I Do What I Do?
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