Classical Conditioning | Psychology | Summary and Q&A

March 15, 2019
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Classical Conditioning | Psychology


Classical conditioning is a type of learning where neutral stimuli become associated with involuntary responses, leading to changes in behavior.

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Key Insights

  • πŸ‘¨β€πŸ”¬ Pavlov's research on classical conditioning revolutionized understanding of learning and behavior.
  • πŸ₯Ί Classical conditioning can occur in complex real-world environments, but the presence of multiple stimuli can lead to overshadowing.
  • πŸ‘» Generalization in classical conditioning allows for the transfer of learned associations to similar stimuli.
  • πŸ“‘ Discrimination is the ability to differentiate between stimuli that do and do not signal the onset of the unconditioned stimulus.
  • 😚 Extinction is the process of the conditioned stimulus losing its ability to elicit the conditioned response when presented alone.
  • βŒ› Spontaneous recovery can occur when an extinguished association between the conditioned stimulus and response reoccurs after a period of time.
  • πŸ›οΈ Classical conditioning has applications in areas such as phobia development, aversion therapy, and advertising techniques.


Pavlov was a Russian physiologist whose research focused primarily on digestive processes over the course of his study Pavlov noticed that the dogs he was using to study salivated in response to non food cues such as the sound of footsteps or the ringing of a bell that signaled feeding time these otherwise neutral stimuli elicited as normally an au... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is classical conditioning and how does it work?

Classical conditioning is a form of learning where a neutral stimulus becomes associated with an involuntary response through repeated pairings with an unconditioned stimulus. Eventually, the neutral stimulus alone can elicit the response. For example, Pavlov's dogs salivated at the sound of a bell (neutral stimulus) that was previously paired with food (unconditioned stimulus).

Q: What is overshadowing in classical conditioning?

Overshadowing occurs when organisms are more likely to form an association with highly prominent neutral stimuli than with weaker neutral stimuli. For example, if a soft tone and a flashing blue light both precede a firecracker, the association between the light and the firecracker is more likely to be learned than between the tone and the firecracker.

Q: How does generalization work in classical conditioning?

Generalization in classical conditioning refers to the tendency of stimuli similar to the conditioned stimulus to also elicit the conditioned response. For example, if a person has learned an association between a flashing blue light and a firecracker, they may also startle at flashing lights of other colors.

Q: What is extinction in classical conditioning?

Extinction occurs when the conditioned stimulus is repeatedly presented alone without the unconditioned stimulus. This leads to the loss of the conditioned response. For example, if the flashing blue light is repeatedly presented without the firecracker, eventually the person will no longer startle at the light.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Pavlov's experiment with dogs showed that neutral stimuli can become triggers for involuntary responses through repeated pairings with an unconditioned stimulus.

  • Classical conditioning can lead to the formation of conditioned stimuli and responses, even in complex real-world environments.

  • Overshadowing, generalization, discrimination, extinction, and spontaneous recovery are important concepts in classical conditioning.

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