Classical and Operant Conditioning in Advertising

    Classical conditioning is learning that involves elicited responses or instincts. This process begins with a neutral stimulus and over time it becomes a conditioned stimulus through repeated pairings. A Russian scientist named Ivan Pavlov demonstrated this with dogs when he repeatedly paired the sound of a bell, metronome, or a light with the presentation of food. Over time, the neutral stimulus became conditioned and the dogs would begin to salivate when they heard or saw the stimulus because they know they will be receiving food soon after. Another form of conditioning is operant conditioning. Operant conditioning focuses on the future probability of a behavior. Reinforcement and punishment can influence the behavior by increasing or decreasing the likelihood of the behavior.

    I wanted to look into how advertisers use classical and operant conditioning after seeing a post made by another student. The advertisers attempt to get their consumers to associate their product with positive feelings and to motivate them to purchase the product. Advertising can consist of examples of classical conditioning such as making food appear delicious and mouth-watering so the consumers will feel hungry and want to go and buy the food. Another example includes the type of music used in the ads. For example, the advertisers may use happy music to make the consumers feel happy while watching the ad or they may use a jingle that rhymes so it sticks in the consumers mind so when they hear or think about the tune they will remember the product with it. 

    Operant conditioning can also be used to make consumers more likely to purchase a product or use a service. For example, consumers may be offered coupons, allowing them to save money on the products offered by the brand and that will motivate them to buy the product again or to use the service again. Negative reinforcement may also be used to motivate consumers to stop doing something like electric companies charging more when consumers use electricity during peak hours so they get them to use less electricity. A company may show the consequences of not using their service. For example, FedEx created a commercial showing what happens if the consumer doesn't use their service and showing a caveman not being able to successfully send his package because he didn’t use FedEx and this is used to persuade consumers to use their service because they are trying to portray that they are a reliable service compared to other companies. There are many other methods used by advertisers so more people purchase their product.