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Report on Ivan Pavlov

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Ivan Pavlov was the first psychologist to use the term, “Classical Conditioning”. He came about this phenomenon while studying the secretion of stomach acids and salivation in dogs in response to the ingestion of different kinds of food. His study showed that the mere sight of the food bowl, or the person who brought the food, or the footsteps of that person was enough to get the canine salivating. To further study this phenomenon, Pavlov conducted an experiment where he attached a tube to the dog’s salivary gland to measure the amount of salivation and then rang a tuning fork before presenting the dog with food.

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After repeated testing, Pavlov found that the dog would even salivate at just the sound of the tuning fork without being presented with food later. This was because, according to Pavlov, the dog had been classically conditioned to salivate at the sound of the tuning fork. According to some textbooks, “classical conditioning is a phenomenon to describe psychological phenomena strictly in terms of observable stimuli and responses,” and is frequently used by behaviorists who believe in behaviorism (regarded by many as a branch of functionalism). Pavlov was one of the key behaviorists, and his experiment on classical conditioning proves it so. Behaviorism deals primarily with observable behavior and completely banishes internal processes or events like introspection and thinking because they were subjective. It also strives to predict and control behavior, which was shown in the reference video – the unconditioned stimulus, the meat powder and the neutral stimulus, the tuning fork, were associated and produced a conditioned response of salivating, gradually increasing till only the sound of the tuning fork causes the response of salivation. Hence, this experiment converted a neutral stimulus to a conditioned stimulus producing a conditioned response showing that Pavlov was a behaviorist.

Cognitive psychology studies the mind and assumes that humans possess the capacity to think and organize thoughts in their mind. Many articles describe the main focus of cognitive psychology as “conducting scientific research on the processes of the mind.” While behaviorism deals mainly with behavior that can be observed, cognitive psychology is less concerned with visible behavior and more concerned with the mental processes behind it. Behaviorism rejects all processes or events of the mind and assumes that they are too subjective to study, and also unimportant. With cognitive psychology came imaging technologies and brain mapping mechanisms to conduct experiments on the mind which were prohibited before. Behaviorism helps in treating people with phobias and obsessive disorders while cognitive psychology has enabled advances in forensics and courts.

While these schools of psychology have their differences, both branches are different approaches with a common goal – studying and explaining human behavior. Both theories have now been overtaken by other approaches such as cognitive behaviorism – the best of both theories – and social psychology- which looks at how our interactions with others shape our behavior.

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