Classical Conditioning

            Classical conditioning is one of the most known phenomenon is psychology. Classical conditioning is when a stimulus that doesn’t provide a response is paired with a stimulus that does require a response, which then caused the first stimulus to produce a response (Powell, Honey, Symbaluk, p. 109). Pavlov put this theory to the test by using dogs. He conditioned dogs to salivate to the sound of the metronome. In the clip I attached, Jim from the show the office also puts classical conditioning to the test with Dwight. He uses the sound of his computer restarting in place of the metronome and then asks Dwight if he wants a mint. After a while, Jim doesn’t even have to ask Dwight if he wants a mint. Once Dwight hears the computer sound he automatically put out his hand for a mint. The clip shows how unconscious this process is. It shows how learning can be done without the participant knowing it is occurring.


Powell, R., Honey, P., Symbaluk, D. (2013). Introduction to learning and behavior. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.


  1. This is a great clip, even though it is from a scripted show, it demonstrates how the psychology works. Jim essentially trained Dwight to hear the restart and receive a mint, eventually leading to Dwight wanting a mint at the restart of the computer without thinking about it. It would require some dedication in real life to get Dwight to stick his hand out for a mint, like a LOT of effort, time, and sessions of restarting your computer. It took weeks to get my dog to come in after going potty and then sit by the cabinet that have the cookies inside and that was a highly motivated puppy who really wanted those cookies at the time. Everyone uses this conditioning at some point in their life, with an animal, child, or other adult even without realizing the psychology behind what they are doing.


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