O is for Operant Conditioning

OWhat is Operant Conditioning? Well, it’s pretty much everything I’ve been talking about so far in this A to Z Challenge. Positive Reinforcement training is the method in which I elicit Operant Conditioning. The fundamental principal of operant conditioning is that behavior is determined by its consequences. They key here, is that the response is a choice made by the animal. Asking your dog to sit and it does, is an example of operant conditioning. The dog chooses to sit when asked. Receiving praise and treats for sitting, influences your dog’s reaction to sit. Not receiving praise and treats for not sitting, will also influence your dog to choose to sit. Operant conditioning may be differentiated from classical conditioning in that responses in operant conditioning appear to be emitted rather than elicited by a specific stimulus, and they produce some effect that would otherwise not occur.

Classical conditioning is more of a reaction that happens to the animal that can’t be controlled. Pavlov’s dog is an example of classical conditioning. Salivating is a natural reflex. The thought of food naturally makes a dog salivate. It’s a response that can’t necessarily be helped. Classical conditioning results in a reflex, not a response. This type of of conditioning does not involve any voluntary choices made by the animal – just a reflex or reaction. The ringing of the bell was conditioned to become the eliciting stimulus and thus made the dog salivate whenever it heard it ring as it associated the bell with delivery of food.


© Semi Charmed Life

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge


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