what is classical conditioning?


Discussion: Conditioned Emotional Responses

For this week you will think of a conditioned emotional response (CER) that either you acquired, or someone that you personally know has acquired, and discuss how your example is representative of Pavlovian conditioning. You will also consider how to extinguish the conditioned response, and discuss possible issues related to spontaneous recovery. Finally, you will make a recommend a type of exposure therapy to overcome the CER.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Read Chapter 3 of your course text, pp. 56–80. Focus on conditioned and unconditioned stimuli and responses, and pay close attention to the essentials of Pavlovian conditioning, and the extinction and spontaneous recovery of conditioned responses.
  • Read Chapter 4 of your course text, pp. 95–104. Focus on conditioned emotional responses (CERs), and the use of the various types of exposure therapies (e.g., counterconditioning, systematic desensitization, Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET)).
  • For an enhanced understanding of these concepts, you are encouraged to also explore the Optional Learning Resources for this week, in particular the video demonstration on conditioning, and the video of “Little Albert.”


  • Think of a conditioned emotional response (CER) that either you acquired or someone that you personally know has acquired, and how the response was acquired. Consider how your example is representative of Pavlovian conditioning.
  • Consider how you could extinguish the CER with conditioning, including various exposure therapies, and the implications for spontaneous recovery to occur.

With these thoughts in mind:


  1. In the subject line of your post add a name for the conditioned emotional response (CER) that is the focus of your Discussion (e.g., “Fear of Dogs”).
  2. In the body of your post, include a brief description of the CER and how it was acquired. Within the description, identify (label) the components of Pavlovian conditioning: US, UR, neutral stimulus, CS, and CR.
  3. Explain the steps you could take to extinguish the CER. Include within your response how you would know extinction has taken place. Briefly discuss the implications if spontaneous recovery were to occur.
  4. Explain one type of exposure therapy that could help someone with a similar CER overcome the behavior and why you chose that therapy.

Assignment: Pavlovian Conditioning in the Media

Chapter 4 demonstrates additional psychological applications of Pavlovian conditioning. After reviewing examples in the course text (e.g., food aversions, prejudice attitudes and behaviors, addictions, etc.), you will find you own example in the popular media and analyze how it could be an example of an attempt at classical conditioning. You will also consider how human awareness is related to the process of conditioning related to your media example.

To prepare for this Assignment:

  • Review again the conditioning concepts in Chapter 3 of your course text. Also review “Conditional Awareness,” and the various theories that address the connection between the organisms’ awareness and the conditioned response (CR).
  • Read Chapter 4 of your course text, and pay particular attention to the section titled “Advertising.”
  • Conduct a search of the popular media online (e.g., online newspapers, magazines, commercials and advertisements) for items that reflect the importance, and/or use, of Pavlovian conditioning. Selected items might include advertisements and commercials to sell food and drink products, beauty aids, health or medical treatments, or articles about prejudiced attitudes, political elections, “crimes of passion,” etc.

Note: This is not an assignment in which you are to locate resources that have already reported Pavlovian conditioning concepts associated with media examples. Rather, you need to locate your own example and determine the connection of Pavlovian conditioning within a popular media yourself.

  • Identify a media example that you believe demonstrates applications of Pavlovian conditioning concepts.
  • Based on your understanding of the readings this week, consider how human awareness is related to the process of conditioning in the context of your media example.

The Assignment (1–2 pages):

Complete the following:

  1. For context, provide a brief description (less than 100 words) of your media example (e.g., My media example is an advertisement for the product _____, and it shows two people, a male and female, who are engaging in ____ while holding and enjoying the product …), and include the URL (i.e., the web address for where the example is located).Next,
  2. Explain how your example demonstrates an application of Pavlovian conditioning on people (you are not analyzing the actual product)
  3. Identify (label) the five components of the conditioning: US, UR, neutral stimulus, CS, and CR.
  4. Explain the role of awareness in your example as it relates to your readings this week.

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