Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Classical Conditioning

Form of learning in which a previously neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus when presented together with an unconditioned stimulus. For example, in Pavlov’s experiments, a bell was rung (neutral stimulus) simultaneously with the presentation of food (unconditioned stimulus) to a dog. After the dog had learned to associate the ringing of a bell with the presence of food, it would salivate every time a bell was rung, whether or not food was present: the dog had become conditioned to the ringing of the bell.

Cf. operant conditioning.

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