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Viran Kohli

Psychology Conditioning Project

Ms. Kapadia

Conditioning Project
Intro:
In psychology, learning refers to the relatively lasting change in behaviour that is the result of
an experience. Learning is a very important concept in areas of psychology such as cognitive,
educational, social and developmental psychology. In psychology, there are a few ways in
which one can condition someone to complete desired behaviour. One way is called operant
conditioning, coined by behaviourist, B.F. Skinner. Operant conditioning is a method of
learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behaviour. In operant conditioning,
an association is made between behaviour and a consequence for that behaviour. Operant
conditioning has a couple of key concepts that are known as reinforcement and punishment.
There are two kinds of reinforcement, along with two kinds of punishment. The first kind of
reinforcement is positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement refers to giving praise or a
direct reward after the desired behaviour. The second is known as negative reinforcement,
negative reinforcement is removing something undesirable after the desired behaviour is
displayed. In both cases of reinforcement, the behaviour increases. Next, there are two types
of punishment, positive and negative. Positive punishment is the involvement of the
presentation of an unfavourable event to weaken the undesired behaviour. On the other hand,
negative punishment is the removal of a favourable event after the undesired behaviour is
committed. The second type of conditioning is known as classical conditioning, discovered
by Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov. Classical conditioning is a process that occurs through
associations between environmental stimuli and a naturally occurring stimulus. In classical
conditioning we place a neutral signal before a naturally occurring reflex. Classical
conditioning is reflected by its process of having an unconditioned stimulus (US), and
unconditioned response (UR), conditioned stimulus (CS) and a conditioned response (CR).
The US is basically a natural response to a situation, the UR is the natural response to the
unconditioned stimulus. The CS is previously neutral stimuli that eventually comes to trigger
a conditioned response, the CR is a learned response to the previously neutral stimuli. In my
experiment, my subject was my father and I tried to condition him using classical
conditioning. My experiment involved sounding a horn before I threw a soft pillow at him. At
random times during the day, I would sound the horn and follow it up by throwing a pillow at
him. I had done this experiment about 5 times and the response was the same as if it was the
first time I had done it. Every time I had sounded the horn and then threw the pillow, my Dad
would just sit there and not do anything to protect himself from getting hit by the pillow. He
did not learn that every time I had sounded the horn, I would throw a pillow at him. He would
just sit in his seat and ignore what I was doing.
Research Journal:
Trial 1:
My father was sitting in our living room watching T.V. as I walked in. I had played the sound
of the horn off my phone and then 2 seconds later, I threw the pillow at him. My Dad just let
the pillow hit him and then moved the pillow out of his way and continued to watch T.V. As

Viran Kohli

Psychology Conditioning Project

Ms. Kapadia

this was just the first trial, I did not expect my Dad to react the way I wanted, I continued the
experiment the next day.
Trial 2:
Today, I tried the experiment while my Dad was sitting outside reading the newspaper in the
backyard. I had opened the door with the pillow as well as the horn sound ready to be played
off my phone. I had played the sound and 2 seconds later, I threw the pillow at him. My Dad
had not done anything again to protect himself again, he disregarded the fact that the pillow
hit him and gave the pillow back instructing me to go place it back inside. This was just trial
#2 so I was not to surprised with the results that I had got because I figured that for him to
give me the response I was looking for, it would take at least 4 trials.
Trial #3:
It was a Saturday afternoon when I had attempted my third trail of my psychology
experiment. Today, my Dad was in the study room of our house completing some work that
he was assigned. I was doing my homework when I thought that this would be a good time to
conduct my experiment. I played the horn sound and then 3 seconds later I threw the pillow at
him. This time I waited a little bit longer to see how he would react the same sound that I had
played twice before I threw the pillow at him. Again, my Dad gave me a disappointing
response because he did nothing to protect himself even though I gave him 3 seconds to react
to the sound of the horn. He again disregarded the pillow hitting him and had asked me not to
disturb him as he was doing his work. I figured that I would try this experiment 2 more times
to see if he would give me the reaction I was looking for.
Trial #4:
It was Sunday morning when I attempted my fourth trial of my experiment. Today, my Dad
was again sitting outside drinking tea and eating a few biscuits. I woke up and went
downstairs and immediately went outside to attempt my experiment. I played the sound off
my phone and then 4 seconds later, I threw the pillow at him. Again, I received a very
disappointing response. My Dad disregarded the pillow hitting him and made no action to
protect himself. Like trial #2 he just asked me to place the pillow back inside and to eat
breakfast. I was furious with the undesired response I got so I figured I would try just one last
time the next day to see if my experiment had any affect on him.
Trial #5:
It was Monday night when I attempted my fifth and last trial of my experiment. My Dad and
I just finished eating dinner and usually we sit in the living room for 10-15 minutes and
watch T.V. together. I thought that this would be the perfect time to conduct my experiment. I
pulled out my phone and grabbed the pillow beside me. I played the sound and gave him 3
seconds to respond, and then I had thrown the pillow at him. He again did not do anything to
protect himself from the pillow hitting him. He continued watching T.V. and ignored the fact
that I deliberately threw the pillow at him. I had attempted my experiment 5 times and I had
not received the desired results, so at that point; I concluded my experiment.

Viran Kohli

Psychology Conditioning Project

Ms. Kapadia

Classical Conditioning Questions:


1) What were the UCS/US, UCR/UR, CS and CR?
The intended unconditioned stimulus was the sound of the horn followed by the
pillow being thrown, the unconditioned response was the act of the persons hands
being thrown up to protect themselves from being hit by the pillow. The conditioned
stimulus was the sound of the horn and then the conditioned response would have
been to have the person throw up their hands before the pillow was thrown at them.
2) How did contingency play into the conditioning of your subject?
I had the contingency that my Dad would react and begin to learn the experiment by
the second or third trial. This is what I predicted what would be possible and it turns
out that I got the exact opposite of my desired results.
3) Why was time important in pairing the UCS/US with the CS?
Time is important because the participant needs to realize that the US had something
to do with the UR and later the CS. You have to reduce the amount of time because
the participant needs to realize that the US is a indication that something is going to
occur.
4) How did extinction, stimulus generalization, and spontaneous recovery play a role in
your conditioning?
In my conditioning, extinction plays a role because if I had received the intended
response and I continued to play the sound of the horn but not throw the pillow, the
participant would realize that the pillow would not be thrown at them every single
time the sound of the horn played, ending in the conditioning to become extinct.
Stimulus generalization could play a role because similar sounds may trigger the
participant to flinch and throw their hands up when nothing will be thrown at them.
Spontaneous recovery could be 3 months, 6 months or even a longer amount of time
when I can randomly play the sound of the horn and then observe if the participant
throws their hands up like they used to.