• Your post must be written in your own words 
  • If you refer to a source such as an article, video, or a book, provide a link or other identifying information about the source. Sources are not required for this reflection post, but they might be relevant. The source could be our textbook. If you refer to sources, use APA format citations (in-text citations and a reference list; see the APA resources in Canvas)
  • Respond to 2 other students’ posts. Your responses have no specific length requirements, but you need to refer to something in the student’s post, showing that you read it (something like “I agree” or “Interesting!” is not enough for the points). If you respond to a student that initially responded to you, that also counts as one of your responses


10 points for your own post (you get 5 points for the classical conditioning example and 5 points for the operant conditioning example. Your examples are not graded for accuracy but for an attempt that is relevant to the questions)

Reflection topic: Classical and operant conditioning  

For this week’s assignment, give one example of classical conditioning and one example of operant conditioning in your post. In other words, complete both 1. and 2. below.  Include both of your examples in the same post. Read the instructions of each below and scroll down for a review of these concepts as needed.


Come up with your own personal example of classical conditioning, something that was initially neutral to you, but you learned to fear/like/dislike because you associated it with some UCS that naturally produces a response.

Complete BOTH A and B:

A) Briefly describe your example

B) Label the parts of your example like this, so that it’s easy for others to recognize the different components of a classical conditioning scenario:

Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS) = 
Unconditioned Response (UCR) =
Conditioned Stimulus (CS) =
Conditioned Response (CR) =


A) I was driving home from work, and when I passed by a street corner near my home, I got into an accident at that street corner. I was scared and in a shock, but only slightly hurt. However, next time I saw that street corner, my heartrate increased, I started sweating and I felt fearful and stressed. This happened for a while every time I went by that street corner. Eventually my reaction got less intense and disappeared.


Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS) = the accident 
Unconditioned Response (UCR) = fear, stress
Conditioned Stimulus (CS) = the street corner
Conditioned Response (CR) = fear, stress

(Note that the UCR and the CR are the same/similar response, and the UCS and CS are different. UCS is the thing that automatically, reflexively causes a response [the USR], and CS is what used to cause no response but does now because it was associated with the UCS.)


Comment on ONE of these questions (A or B):

A) Thinking back to your elementary school years, what kinds of positive reinforcement did your teachers use? How about negative reinforcement? What about punishment? Did these work? Or you can tell us about the types of reinforcement or punishment you use with children in your life, or your parents/caregivers used with you. Be sure to label the strategy and explain why it fits positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, or punishment by application or removal (positive or negative punishment).


B) Operant conditioning is a standard tool for training pets and other animals. Have you housetrained a pet or taught a pet to do tricks? Have you tried to modify an animal’s behavior? You may not have known it was operant conditioning, but most likely you were using positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, or punishment techniques. What did you do, and can you label it as reinforcement (positive or negative) or punishment (positive or negative punishment)?

Review of classical and operant conditioning:

CLASSICAL CONDITIONINGIn classical conditioning, a neutral stimulus is paired with a stimulus that triggers an automatic involuntary response; after the association, the neutral stimulus also triggers the response. Classical conditioning involves feelings/involuntary responses. These are the different parts of classical conditioning:

Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS): Something that causes a reaction, regardless of any prior learning. These are situations or things that happen that would cause anybody to have a reaction (car accident, loud noise, food poisoning, etc.)

Unconditioned Response (UCR): Your natural reaction to the UCS (pain, fear, joy, vomiting, etc.)

Conditioned Stimulus (CS): Something that was originally neutral, but comes to be associated with the first experience (the corner where the accident occurred, the sight of a big dog, the smell of a particular food, the sight or smell of a hospital). These are not things that would normally cause a reaction, but because they were associated with the original event, they come to evoke a response.

Conditioned Response (CR): Your learned response to the CS (fear, anxiety, happiness, nausea, etc.) The UCR and the CR must be the SAME response! For example, both the UCR and the CR might be FEAR.


With operant conditioning, we learn from the consequences of our behavior. Operant conditioning involves our voluntary actions, and how likely we are to repeat a behavior depending on the consequences. In operant conditioning, behavior gets changed by two ways, reinforcement and punishment.

In reinforcement, a positive consequence increases the behavior. In punishment, behavior is weakened because of a negative consequence. There are two types of reinforcement and two types of punishment. These are described below:


Positive Reinforcement: Behavior is strengthened to get a reward. For example, you might work overtime (behavior) to get a bonus check (consequence). The bonus check is a consequence of adding something positive that makes you more likely to repeat this behavior (working overtime) in the future. However, this doesn’t have to be positive behavior. If a child throws a tantrum and then gets what she wants, she has been positively reinforced (likely to throw a tantrum again).

Negative Reinforcement: Behavior is strengthened to avoid or minimize something negative from happening. You pay your taxes to avoid a fine, put on your seat belt to avoid an injury, take medication to get rid of a headache, etc. The motivation is to minimize a negative consequence. When a negative consequence gets removed or minimized (you don’t get a fine, your headache is gone), you are more likely to repeat the behavior (pay your taxes, take medication) in the future.

Some people study to get A’s (positive reinforcement), while other people study to avoid F’s (negative reinforcement). In both cases, study behavior is strengthened, so both are types of reinforcement.


Punishment by application (positive punishment) involves adding something negative in order to decrease a behavior. An example is touching a hot stove and immediately stop touching it due to pain/injury.  Something bad (pain) is added, and the behavior (touching the stove) stops and is likely to not be repeated in the future.

Punishment by removal (negative punishment) involves the removal of something good in order to decrease behavior. Examples are putting coins in a vending machine (behavior) and not getting a snack (consequence: losing something good), or buying a stock and losing your money.
The behavior that’s weakened could be good or bad. If you ask for a hug and get turned down, you’re less likely to ask again; that’s punishment.

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