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Conditioning Techniques In Clinical Practice And Research

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Conditioning Techniques In Clinical Practice And Research

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Conditioning Techniques In Clinical Practice And Research

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A hypothesis is a proposed explanation conceived for a particular phenomena that are to be tested for truthfulness. Researchers base hypotheses on observations acquired previously that had not led to satisfactory explanations. The hypothesis is different from a theory in all respect (Ly et al., 2016).  Leary (2016) states that a hypothesis is the tentative statement about the relationship between the confounding variables. While the hypothesis is responsible for predicting the expectations of the research, the goal of the research is the determination of whether the hypothesis holds true or whether it is incorrect. According to Sterne (1840), it is the nature of a hypothesis that when an individual conceived it, that is assimilated every thing to itself as proper nourishment, and from the first moment of making it happen, the hypothesis usually grows stronger by everything that is seen, heard, read or understood. In the field of psychology, all significant researches have been known to hold a clear stated hypothesis that has been tested for truthfulness. One of the most debated research in psychology is the one related to Classical Conditioning Theory of Ivan Pavlov that has thrown a valuable insight into the understanding of human behaviour. The research undertaken by Pavlov was based on a distinct hypothesis (Chilcott, 2015). In the present paper the hypothesis of Pavlovian Conditioning in psychology put forward by Ivan Pavlov, has been used to assess the degree to which individuals advancing it have treated the hypothesis in a manner how Stence have described it. The impact of such treatment for the hypothesis is also highlighted in the paper. Lastly, the paper also analyses the impact of such treatment for psychology. The paper ends with a conclusive summary of the whole discussion. 
Classical conditioning is a kind of mental conditioning that is associated with a previously neutral stimulus with the presence of an unconditional stimulus that elicits the desired response. It implies that a neutral stimulus is linked with an unconditioned stimulus for creating a response that should not have been created originally (Peter, 2014). The theory of classical conditioning had been put forward by Ivan Pavlov, a Russsian Scientist, who threw light upon the theory through his research. Pavlov was looking at salivation produced by dogs as a response to being fed. The people who were responsible for feeding the dogs wore lab coats while feeding. It was brought into his notice that the dogs drooled whenever they got a sight of the lab coats, even if food was not given to them. He noticed that the dogs used to salivate whenever he entered the room. This was true even in cases when the dogs were not fed by him. Pavlov started to generate the idea that the reflex of saliva had been hardwired into the dogs. He, therefore, conducted an experiment to understand the phenomena more clearly that involved the dogs and food. The hypothesis of the study was that the dogs would respond to a neutral stimulus, and give a conditioned response. The sound of a bell was used as the neutral stimulus while linking it with other stimulus food. At the time of feeding the dogs, the bell was rung everytime. After repetition of the procedure, the researcher went into the room and rang only the bell without giving food. It was found that the salivation level of the dogs was increased when the bell was rung.  The dogs were found to have learnt an association between the food and the bell and had eventually developed a new form of behaviour. Pavlov, therefore, succeeded in establishing a link between neutral stimulus and the conditioned response (Rescorla, 2014).
Keller andSchoenfeld (2014) highlight that researcher John B. Watson further explored the hypothesis put forward by Pavlov and attempted to understand the implications of the hypothesis for practice. Watson, in the year 1921, undertook research with Albert, an 11-month-old infant child to verify the significant hypothesis. The aim of the research was to suitably condition Albert to be afraid of a white rat. This was done with a jarring, and loud noise, that acted as the unconditioned stimulus. Initially, the subject showed no signs of fear when the rat was presented to him. However, when the pairing of the rat was done with the loud noise, it was found that there was a development of fear from the rats in Albert. It was therefore presented that the loud noise was responsible for inducing fear in Albert, that acted as the unconditioned response. The implications of this valuable experiment indicated that classical conditioning possesses the ability to create phobia in human beings.
As opined by Gross (2014) Pavlov had been successful in contributing a rich pool of new information, ideas and concepts to the domain of behavioural psychology. The interest of other researchers to testify the hypothesis of Pavlov include the works of Edward Thorndike. However, it was John Watson who carried forward research on the hypothesis of classical conditioning. The contribution of Pavlov into the field of psychology has been attributed for being indirect. The connection of the proposed hypothesis of Pavlov to behavioural psychology was first established by Watson as he felt that the experiments undertaken by Pavlov were a sound example of a good experimental methodology that can be utilised for observing the conditioning process of any secretory reflex. One can state in this regard that once the hypothesis of Pavlov came into the world, there were attempts to put it on stronger grounds and conceive it to be true in all respects. Moodley (2016), reflecting on the encounters of different psychologists with the hypothesis of classical conditioning theory, argued that research of John Watson was the most important in the context of the same field. In a quest to research more on the hypothesis, Watson ut focus upon more brilliant aspects of behavioural psychology. Watson believed that behavioural psychology is sheerly an objective experimental segment of natural science, wherein the theoretical goal is the prediction of behaviour as well as control of behaviour. The ultimate impact of the research of Watson was that behaviourism was conceived to be the scientific study of human behaviour. In addition, behaviourism was thought to have the goal of providing the foundation ground for understanding how humans behave.
Kalat (2016) in this regard stated that Watson strived to collect data for one of his experiment in a distinct manner. Data collection was done by taking observations of many infants, several hundred in number, from the time of birth, through first one month of infancy and through the initial years of childhood. From the collected data it was concluded that young children from a background of well-to-do as well as poor are not suitable as good subjects. The rationale for this is that the behaviours of such children are complex. Watson also conducted other experiments on behaviourism that he published consequently. Another important experiment that Watson carried out was on his perspective on learning behaviour of individuals. This was termed as the theory of habit formation that has been illustrated adequately in several kinds of literature. Watson considered putting in front of a three-year-old child a problem box. The habits of manipulation of the child were well known. The problem box could only be opened after completion of a certain action. Before the box was handed over to the child, it was shown to the child that the box contained many candies and he was told that he needed to open the box for having the candies. The situation presented to him was new. The formed manipulations that he had learnt earlier were not to work in such situation. The actions taken by the child involved picking the box, pounding it on the floor, dragging it round, pushing it against the hard board, turning it over and striking it with full force with his fist. In summation, the child carried out all the actions that he had learnt previously in similar situations. While trying to attempt to open the box, he accidently opened the box. One candy was given to him, and the box was again closed. The next time the boy was found to make fewer movements, and for the next time, there were fewer movements in comparison. After several attempts, he was able to open the box in almost two seconds.
Watson gave an explanation of the illustration of learning. He proposed that the ability of the box with increased accuracy and fewer movements were a function of recency and frequency. The acts that are performed more frequently usually persists within an individual. Watson identified nine hypothetical laws of learning. The first and second were recency and frequency. The third hypothesis was that conditioning is a major method of stimulu substitution. The fourth hypothesis was that the process of conditioning is ultimately ubiquitous. The fifth hypothesis was that conditioned responses have a tendency to be unstable and temporary. The sixth hypothesis was that substituted stimulus have chances of making other stimulus reflex. The seventh hypothesis was that the degree of response has a high amount of dependency on the strength the stimulus has. A summation effect of two stimuli can take place in certain cases. The last hypothesis was that conditioned responses could be attributed to being extinguished.
Neale (2017) has analysed that researchers who have examined the classical conditional theory of Pavlov and taken forward the research have put forward a number of criticisms of it. The researchers have opined that classical conditioning is a passive form of learning and it could be overcome with the help of cognitive factors. In the case of classical conditioning, it works best with natural reflexes and novel stimuli. A number of genetic predispositions can interfere with the principle of classical conditioning. In addition, the theory has been pointed out to be too simplistic and too deterministic. In addition, it does not consider individual’s own cognition. The application of the theory to human beings have been a topic of debate, and therefore the number of opponents of the theory and the hypothesis of Pavlov has increased considerably.
In words of Gershman et al., (2013)  modern classical conditioning have been a major step in the way of bringing advancements in the work of Pavlov theory. Pavlov along with his contemporaries have viewed classical conditioning as a form of learning that originates from exposure of an organism to different associates of environmental occurrences. Modern classical conditioning theorists, such as R. Rescorla, have defined it in a more concise manner. The researcher puts emphasis on the principle that a temporal association between the conditioned stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus is, at no circumstances, adequate for the occurrence of Pavlovian conditioning. As an alternative, conditioned stimulus needs to have some relation with some facts of the unconditioned stimulus.  The significance that this distinction holds is reflected in the experiment undertaken by scientist Kamin. In the valuable experiment conducted by him, he exposed rats to a certain tone followed by a shock. As per the conditioning principles, the tone acted as a conditioned response. The same set of rats were then exposed to the tone, followed by a light and then a shock. At this case, the light did not act as a conditioning agent. The reason for this was that the tone had already established a relation with the arrival of the shock. Therefore, the information brought about by the light was useless and did not contribute to the conditioning. Though there was a temporary association between shock and light, it failed to bring about any form of conditioning.
Neisser (2014) has pointed out that ensuing research of Pavlov had the aim of discovering the laws responsible for governing the relationship between stimulus. The associations were considered to be conditioned reflexes for differentiating them from other forms of reflexes that are unconditioned. At the contemporary era, the means by which a relation is established between an unconditioned response and a conditioned stimulus is known as classical conditioning. The observations received from such associations were the starting point of experiments conducted on this topic with the similar hypothesis. The various experiments that were undertaken in the following times had to deal with the understanding of how the associations between the stimulus and the response were built, sustained, attenuated or strengthened. For the next two and half decades, several experiments were conducted in the laboratory of Pavlov along the discussed lines. The thirst of going deep into the topic was so much that a number of vague proposals came up and different individuals gave different opinions and viewpoints. Pavlov had described the term ‘psychic stimulation’ of gastric secretion in his book named Die Arbiet der Verdauungsdrusen, the first description of ‘natural’ conditioned reflex came up later in the works of another research Dr Tolochinov. A wide array of researches had been published after that, however, there was a lack of comprehensive reports on conditioned reflexes. James (2013) outlined some of the most critical concepts founded on the basis of the experiment of Pavlov. The first concept was about the way a conditioned reflex is developed. Other concepts were regarding experimental extinction, spontaneous recovery, higher order conditioning, generalisation and discrimination.
Groome and Eysenck (2016) discussed about the works of Vladimir Bekhterev and his take on the hypothesis of classical conditioning of Pavlov. As per the researchers, Bekhterev had pointed out multiple flaws in the work of Pavlov and did not agree with the hypothesis. The first flaw pointed out was the use of the saliva method. This was due to the fact that the saliva method is not proper to be applied to humans. In contrast, the method used by Bekhterev for studying the conditioned reflex with the help of mild electrical stimulation for the examination of motor reflexes was successful in demonstrating the presence of the discussed reflex even in human beings. The use of acid for encouraging saliva in animals was also put under questions by Bekhterev. Lastly, Bekhterev criticised the secretory reflex to be unreliable and unimportant.
In conclusion from the above analysis it can be stated that Pavlov’s experiments on classical conditioning could dramatically demonstrate the control of the environment upon behaviour. The hypothesis that individuals are responsive to cues in the environment has been analysed by the different researchers in the consecutive researches after Pavlov. In fact, there is an involvement of classical conditioning in every aspect of our lives. Therefore, bringing changes in our environment would be an effective method of self-help. Changing reactions towards the environment is an approach founded on the basis of classical conditioning. If conditioning can have a major role in bringing development in certain human factors, conditioning has also been seen to eliminate the factors. From the chain of experiments undertaken by different researchers after Pavlov, it can be demonstrated that a hypothesis grows stronger with the process of analysing it and considering it for different situations. From the point, Pavlov had put forward the hypothesis of classical conditioning, with each passing phase of further research the hypothesis has only grown stronger and has been supported by several proofs and direct and indirect evidence. Concepts from Pavlovian hypothesis have been found to have a number of ramifications. The hypothesis has been time and again considered for explaining many multi-faceted puzzling facades of behaviour exhibited by humans. In summation, individuals advancing the hypothesis of Pavlov have therefore treated the hypothesis in a manner described by Stence.
Alexander, L. (2013). Conditioning techniques in clinical practice and research. Springer.
Chilcott, L. (2015). Who Are We: Behaviourism and Cognitive Theories: 2/5.
Gershman, S. J., Jones, C. E., Norman, K. A., Monfils, M. H., & Niv, Y. (2013). Gradual extinction prevents the return of fear: implications for the discovery of state. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 7, 164.
Groome, D., & Eysenck, M. (2016). An introduction to applied cognitive psychology. Psychology Press.
Gross, R. (2014). Themes, issues and debates in psychology. Hodder Education.
James, W. (2013). The principles of psychology. Read Books Ltd.
Kalat, J. W. (2016). Introduction to psychology. Nelson Education.
Keller, F. S., & Schoenfeld, W. N. (2014). Principles of psychology: A systematic text in the science of behavior (Vol. 2). BF Skinner Foundation.
Leary, M. R. (2016). Introduction to behavioral research methods. Pearson.
Ly, A., Verhagen, J., & Wagenmakers, E. J. (2016). Harold Jeffreys’s default Bayes factor hypothesis tests: Explanation, extension, and application in psychology. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 72, 19-32.
Moodley, J. K. (2016). Psychology–themes and variations. New Voices in Psychology, 11(2), 108-111.
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