Classical Conditioning VS Operant Conditioning

Classical conditioning and operant conditioning are very popular behavioural psychology theories that are used in learning situations to help enhancing the learning patterns of subjects, either animals or human beings. To compare and contrast the two theories, we will first have to learn each separately and then compare them later.


Classical conditioning

Classical conditioning can be defined as a learning process through which we can learn to associate stimuli with specific events enabling us to anticipate those events whenever we are exposed to such stimuli in the future. This is the basic definition of the theory of classical conditioning. However, to further understand what the theory entails and its practical applications, we first need to learn about a renowned behavioural scientist by the name of Pavlov who lived between the years 1849 and 1936.


Who is Ivan Pavlov and how is he associated with the classical conditioning theory?

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian scientist who is famous for his classical conditioning theory experiments. However, he was not researching behavioural behaviour when he began the experiments. He accidentally or unexpectedly stumbled on the classical learning process while conducting experiments on dogs to learn about their digestive systems.

Pavlov was a Physiologist studying the digestive system and was using food on dogs to measure the amount of saliva they produced when they were presented with different foods. However, after long periods on the experiments, he began to notice some behavioural patterns on the dogs. They started producing saliva even when they had not taken any food, just by the sight of the food. They also began salivating by the sight of an empty bowl and even on hearing the assistant’s footsteps. The assistant was the one who fed the dogs, and, the dogs had begun to associate the assistant’s presence with food. These interesting observations led to Ivan Pavlov’s unexpected discovery of the classical conditioning learning theory.


Learning Classical Conditioning from Pavlov’s experiments

From the experiments, Pavlov learnt the following things:

Classical conditioning Examples


Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning is another type of associative learning. With this type of learning, an animal/organism is taught to associate certain behaviour with consequences. With time, an organism will learn that a pleasant behaviour elicits good consequence and unpleasant behaviour results in bad consequences. Therefore, the good behaviour is more likely to be repeated and bad behaviour avoided after the consequences.

Operant conditioning examples

Some of the real world examples of operant conditioning include:



Similarities between Classical and Operant Conditioning

These two associative learning theories are similar in the following regard:


Differences between Classical and Operant Conditioning





Classical Conditioning VS Operant Conditioning Examples


Classical conditioning examples include


Some of the real world examples of operant conditioning include:


Psychology Homework and Assignment Help

If you have questions, facing Quizzes for Classical VS operant conditioning topics and other psychology related Questions, get all the help you need here. We will handle all your quizzes, Assignments, Homework, Online Classes, and Final Exams at an affordable price. Chat with us and get the tutor who will handle all your questions.