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What did Ivan Pavlov do?

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January 22, 2011 12:55AM

Ivan Pavlov was known for his contribution of classical conditioning in the field of psychology. He first started by studying the digestive patterns of his dogs. He build a device that would measure the amount of saliva his dogs would secrete. Pavlov noticed that they would salivate every time when food was brought upon them. He called the salivation a reflex response since it was naturally recurring.

As time went by, he discovered that his dogs salivated without the actual food presented to them but rather by hearing the bowl clatter or seeing the lab assistant bring food. Pavlov then spent the rest of his time studying classical conditioning.

He called the food the unconditioned stimulus (US) because it was unlearned and it was the main reason why the dogs salivated. Pavlov began pairing cues before the presentation of the food which he called them the conditioned stimulus (CS). In classical conditioning, the CS can elicit the same response as the US. Soon, the dogs would salivate to a CS, such as the ringing of a bell.

Pavlov's concepts can also be applied to every day life. For example, when a child hears a dentist's drill, he will become frightened even though it is not the dentist himself.