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Instructions are attached · Respond to at least two (2) peers with 100 words as the minimum peer response Peer 1: Carolyn Classical

Instructions are attached 

· Respond to at least two (2) peers with 100 words as the minimum peer response

Peer 1: Carolyn

Classical conditioning and instrumental learning or operant conditioning are critical components to understanding how learning occurs in humans and animals. Classical conditioning, or S-O learning, focuses on the learned association of a stimulus to a specific outcome compared to R-O learning, which centralizes around the relationship between a response and consequence (Bouton, 2018). Essentially, the difference between these two learning theories is the learned “what” component and the process in which they are studied (Bouton, 2018). Both theories enhance the perspective around how one learns and adapts to one’s environment through various associations.

Regarding S-O learning, relative to Pavlov’s bell and dog experiment, when I was a kid, I developed a fear of the dark, so whenever the lights turned off, and I could not see, I associated it with a fear response. Similarly, when I heard the song of the ice cream truck coming down the street, I would associate it with receiving ice cream. In my current life, I experienced classical conditioning after I suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at the apparel store I was working at. The stimulus of walking into apparel stores after my accident gives me anxiety because the last time I was there, the outcome was negative. Lissek and colleagues (2005) discuss how pathological anxiety develops through the simple ways of classical conditioning, where the conditioned fear drives motivation and reinforces avoidance. Thus, by avoiding going into apparel stores after my accident, I reinforced the nature of my anxiety through the conditioned act.

One classic example of response association (R) and outcome (O) is using Skinner’s rat-in-a-box experiment, where the rat presses a lever to receive the food pellet. The stimulus of the lever is the predictor of the specific outcome, the food pellet. I use R-O learning in my daily practice of positive self-talk during schoolwork to enhance healthy study and homework strategies. Instead of reinforcing negative feelings around studying, which leads to poor outcomes, I use positive reinforcement techniques to develop positive outcomes. I also associated a specific notification tone with receiving a work email, even when I stopped working for the company. However, I have not worked for the company for several years, so the notification tone no longer reinforces that outcome, in the same way Skinner shows the rat disassociating the lever with food when it learns there is no reward. Another example of R-O learning is when my husband and I communicate and acknowledge each other’s feelings. In doing so, we develop healthier communication techniques that result in a more positive relationship outcome.


Bouton, M. E. (2018). Learning and behavior: A contemporary synthesis (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.

Lissek, S., Powers, A., McClure, E., Phelps, E., Woldehawariat, G., Grillon, C., & Pine, D. (2005). Classical fear conditioning in the anxiety disorders: a meta-analysis.
Science Direct, 43(11), 1391–1424.

Links to an external site.

Peer 2: Maya

Classical conditioning and instrumental learning help with the adaptation of the environment in many ways. Procter (2024) explains classical conditioning as associating a stimulus with a biological outcome. One example used was a cat and a silver spoon. If a cat owner continuously used a silver spoon from the same drawer to feed their cats, the cats would then be conditioned to know it was time to eat when they heard the silver spoon being taken out of the drawer (Procter, 2024). Within my behavior, I have noticed at least two classical conditioning situations. I grew up in a household where my mother would start loud music early Saturday morning and start cleaning. She would usually play the same two songs every time, so when I hear those songs, especially when I am home, I automatically want to start cleaning. Another example could relate to many people. Anytime I hear a bell, I assume someone needs help with something. When I was younger, my mother had surgery, and she had a small bell to use if she needed anything. I associate the small bell ringing as a sign that someone is trying to get my attention because they are in need.

Operant conditioning is learning about an outcome based on what was done to operate within the environment (Procter, 2024). Procter (2024) provided an example of training dogs or children to receive a response due to their behavior. I am currently using operant conditioning now to potty train my two-year-old son. When we are home, we have him sit on the toilet before we change his diaper. If he successfully uses the bathroom in the toilet, he will get a sticker, and if he doesn’t use the toilet and instead uses his diaper and doesn’t tell us he needs to go potty, we won’t give him a sticker. Another example of operant conditioning is teaching my son his bedtime routine. He knows that after he eats his late-night oatmeal, he will need to take a bath, try potty time, moisturize, brush his teeth, get his favorite car or book, give hugs and kisses, make sure his night light is on, and then it’s time to get in bed and go to sleep. He gets a high five whenever he successfully completes each step, and we ask what’s next. We let him know if he forgets something and withholds the high five. We were able to get this routine down within two weeks.

Whether it’s classical or operant conditioning, they both allow us to associate and develop an understanding of why things happen and why we do them ourselves.


Procter, D. (2024, April 29).
Learning, Classical conditioning, and operant conditioning [Video]. Canvas@FIT.

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