Classical Conditioning is the first type of learning procedure to be studied as a method of learning. It is a procedure that elicits a response after being paired with a stimulus that elicits that response. The discovery of this method, helped open the doors to the psychological realm of one’s character and brain development.
Shortly afterwards, Operant conditioning, termed "instrumental conditioning", is a method that produces a result when a subject associates a response that occurs spontaneously with a specific environmental effect. There is a fine line between classical and operant conditioning, mainly defined by the environment. It is primarily established by which happens first, behavior from the organism or something in the environment.
Both are seen within our population today. They can be seen in the form of addictions and phobias. The primary similarities are that they develop these behaviors through conditioning. Some of this conditioning comes from the way one is raised or the development of their coping skills.
One prime example of operant conditioning is addiction. “About 60% of Americans sample an illicit drug at least once in their lifetime, and even after excluding marijuana, the lifetime prevalence for illicit drug use is about 32%. Substantial numbers of people do become addicts, of course, but the fact remains that drug use does not inevitably lead to addiction. Addiction is more than mere drug use. It is defined specifically as a compulsive pattern of drug-seeking and drug-taking behavior that takes place at the expense of most other activities” (Robinson & Berridge, 2003). One of the traditional views is that drugs are taken for pleasure, this pattern is repeated in the hopes of continuing or increasing the pleasure. However, many participants experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop taking the drugs. This then creates a situation where the participant will continue the drug use, in an effort to prevent the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. This is seen as an example of the participant developing the drug habit as a response to the unpleasant effects when attempting to decrease or stop the drug. Therefore, this is seen as operant conditioning. The brain has learned if the behavior isn't continued negative withdrawal symptoms will occur, therefore the brain will urge for the continuation of the drug.
Phobias are described as a form of classical conditioning. The word "phobia" is derived from the Greek word for fear. This form of classical conditioning is described as an environmental stimulus which produces a response. Most phobias are believed to be a result of some form of negative environmental experience that occurred in the participant’s life. Globally, there have been thousands of documented phobias. According to the American Psychiatric Association (2012) “Phobias are emotional and physical reactions to feared objects or situations. Symptoms of a phobia include the following:
• Feelings of panic, dread,