What is Classical Conditioning?

Definition: Classical conditioning is a learning technique associated with the relation between a stimulus and its response. In other words, it is a method that involves stimulating a subject’s mind to get a particular response from it.

What Does Classical Conditioning Mean?

What is the definition of classical conditioning? This psychological theory was first introduced by Ivan Pavlov. The theory states that a subject can be conditioned to respond differently to a previously neutral stimulus if the neutral stimulus is paired up with any other stimulus that creates the required response. By presenting both stimulus simultaneously, the subject will unconsciously associate its current response to the neutral stimulus too.

This technique is widely used to train animals. By creating a positive stimulus and then matching it to the neutral stimulus that needs to be taught, the trainer can modify the animal’s behavior and get the response he is looking for after repeating the process for a given period of time. This method is also called Pavlovian conditioning.

Here’s an illustration of how this works.


Mr. Banks wants like to train his dog so he can jump when he says the word “Up”. He has been doing some research on Classical Conditioning and he bought some cookies to reward the dog whenever he does what he intends. How can Mr. Banks use classical conditioning properly to train his dog to jump at command?

In this case, the word “up” is the neutral stimulus, since the dog doesn’t react to it. What Mr. Banks should aim is to tie the word “up” to the reaction of jumping. What he needs to do is to get the dog to jump and then give the dog a cookie to create a positive stimulus for jumping. After he achieves that, he must match the jump to the word “up”. So he will get the dog jumping and regularly repeat the word “up” to him, and keep rewarding the dog when this gets done properly. After a while the dog will be conditioned to jump every time he hears the command “up” because he is conditioned to think on the reward. So, the previously neutral stimulus is finally attached to the positive one and the positive one will not be needed later.

Summary Definition

Define Classical Conditioning: CC means the psychological theory that an association can be made between two unrelated things causing an action.