My first example of classical conditioning is off of an episode of the TV sitcom, The Office. In this episode, every time Jim’s computer restarts, he gives Dwight an Altoid. He says he is doing an experiment similar to one he heard about in school where dogs salivate at the sound of a bell. He does this for a couple weeks, offering Dwight Altoids every time his computer makes the sound of restarting. Dwight doesn’t connect the two things happening together. After many times doing this, Jim starts his computer and Dwight reaches out his hand, but doesn’t receive an Altoid. Jim asks Dwight what he’s doing and Dwight gets confused. He thinks, and then says “I don’t know. My mouth tastes so bad all of a sudden”.
This happened because Dwight received an Altoid whenever he heard the computer make the restarting sound. The sound of the computer was a neutral stimulus. There was no real connection between the sound and getting an Altoid. The unconditioned stimulus was when Jim offered him an Altoid. He didn’t have to learn to want an Altoid when he was offered one, so the unconditioned response was Dwight wanting an Altoid. The conditioned stimulus was the sound of the computer. Over time Dwight learned that when he heard the sound of the computer, he would receive an Altoid. Therefore, the conditioned response was that he wanted an Altoid.
Watch this video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfZfMIHwSkU
My next example of classical conditioning is a video of a man with two guinea pigs. He is making himself something in the kitchen, and the plastic bag he is using makes a sound. The guinea pigs get excited. This is because that’s the same bag that their salad comes in, so every time they hear the sound of the bag, they expect to get food. The man stands over the cage with the bag and continues to wrinkle it and watch the guinea pigs go crazy over the sound, expecting to get fed.
The reason the guinea pigs were getting excited when they heard the bag is because...