Basic Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Learning and Memory

Classical Conditioning VS Operant Conditioning

Learning can be understood as the fairly long-lasting change in the behaviour, arising out of the experience. It is useful for us to adapt ourselves according to the environment. The simplest form of learning is called conditioning (Conditioning is a type of learning that links some sort of trigger or stimulus to a human behavior or response), which can be of two kinds, i.e. classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical and operant conditioning are two important concepts central to behavioral psychology. While both result in learning, the processes are quite different.

Differences between Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning

  Classical Conditioning Operant Conditioning
Definition Classical conditioning is a learning process that occurs through associations between an environmental stimulus and a naturally occurring stimulus. Operant conditionings a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior.
Discovered By 220px-Ivan_Pavlov_NLM3.jpgClassical conditioning was discovered by the Russian physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov in the early 1900s. 220px-B.F._Skinner_at_Harvard_circa_1950.jpgOperant  conditioning, it was propounded in the year 1938 by B.F. Skinner, who was an American Physiologist.
Learning The theory of Classical Conditioning deals with the learning process leading us to gain a new behavior via the process of association. Operant conditioning is a form of learning which explains the relation of behaviors on certain rewards and consequences.
Deals With Internal mental thoughts and brain mechanisms play a huge role in associative learning. The study of the theory only deals with expressible behaviors and not any internal mental thoughts and brain mechanisms.
Works By ccccccccccccccccc.pngClassical Conditioning works by pairing involuntary response with stimulus. After which, unconditioned response becomes conditioned response. oooooooooooOperant Conditioning works by applying two major concepts, Reinforcements and Punishments, after the behavior is executed, which causes the rate of behavior to increase or decrease.
Experiment X10729464-7[1].jpgPavlov’s dog experiment is a base for the establishment of classical conditioning theory and its concepts. skinner box.jpgSkinner’s Skinner box experiment with a rat is the base for operant conditioning theory and its concepts.


Along with the differences there are also various similarities between these two forms of conditioning learning. The major similarity lies in its application. Both these conditioning learning techniques are used to teach a new behavior to an organism. Despite different techniques, the major goal remains the same.

Both of these techniques have certain limitations when applying it in real life. These techniques are also applied unknowingly. For instance, a teacher punishing a student is an example of operant conditioning. On the other hand, we call our pets with a certain signal before we treat them with food. The dog then associates the timing of food with the signal, which is an example of classical conditioning.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.