For example, if a student is bullied at school they may learn to associate the school with fear. It could also explain why some students show a particular dislike of certain subjects that continue throughout their academic career. This could happen if a student is humiliated or punished in class by a teacher.Critical EvaluationClassical conditioning emphasizes the importance of learning from the environment, and supports nurture over nature. However, it is limiting to describe behavior solely in terms of eithernature or nurture, and attempts to do this underestimate the complexity of human behavior. It is more likely that behavior is due to an interaction between nature (biology) and nurture (environment).A strength of classical conditioning theory is that it is scientific. This is because it's based on empirical evidence carried out by controlled experiments. For example, Pavlov (1902) showed how classical conditioning can be used to make a dog salivate to the sound of a bell.Classical conditioning is also a reductionist explanation of behavior. This is because complex behavior is broken down into smaller stimulus - response units of behavior.Supporters of a reductionist approach say that it is scientific. Breaking complicated behaviors down to small parts means that they can be scientifically tested. However, some would argue thatthe reductionist view lacks validity. Thus, whilst reductionism is useful, it can lead to incompleteexplanations.A final criticism of classical conditioning theory is that it is deterministic. This means that it doesnot allow for any degree of free will in the individual. According a person has no control over thereactions they have learned from classical conditioning, such as a phobia.The deterministic approach also has important implications for psychology as a science.
- Spring '16
- Classical Conditioning