Sun, Nov

Applications of Operant Conditioning | Comparing Classical & Operant Conditioning | Tolman’s Learning Experiment


Can be used for decreasing inappropriate behavior in class, for example praise by teacher on good behavior and disapproval of inappropriate behavior can produce good and disciplined behavior in the students.

Applications of Perant Conditioning

Can be used for decreasing inappropriate behavior in class, for example praise by teacher on good behavior and disapproval of inappropriate behavior can produce good and disciplined behavior in the students. Operant conditioning can be used to improve teaching techniques so that or unmotivated learned can learn faster and better.

Positive reinforcement can take the form of pay checks, bonus, promotion, raise, vacation, praise and more, this will increase efficiency, professionalism and output to input ratio, unsatisfactory performance can result in demotion, unfavorable evaluation, criticism and even cuts in salary (negative punishment).

At home and even elsewhere, operant conditioning can be used for helping people with problems of obesity, smoking alcoholism, delinquency and aggression.


Parents can target a specific behavior, watch it in the children and reward it accordingly to increasing or decrease the behavior as required, when children misbehave, the parents can use positive or negative punishments like not letting them meet friends, constraining there pocket money or not letting more leisure time.

Decide on a goal to eat less (reduce weight) Monitor eating habits and record the result to see the progress and situation, reinforce the desired behavior, reduce the rewards gradually.

Comparing Classical and Operant Conditioning

Both are forms of associative learning and both involve acquisition, extinction, spontaneous recovery, generalization and discrimination but classical conditioning involves association between two stimuli (bell and food) while operant conditioning involves response and reinforcement.

The response in classical conditioning is automatic and involuntary, while operant conditioning involves complicated voluntary behaviors, mediated by somatic nervous system. Example fear salivation etc, to produce desirable results.

In classical conditioning, before conditioning an unconditioned stimulus leads to unconditioned response but after conditioning even the conditioned stimulus would lead to unconditioned response now called conditioned response. While in operant conditioning reinforcement increases the probability of repetition of the behavior while punishment decreases the probability.

In classical conditioning the organism has no control on the different stimuli presented and it just learn its association while in operant conditioning the organism has more control on whether to behave so that being punished or being reinforced and rewarded.

There is also a notable difference between extinction in classical conditioning and in operant conditioning. During the early stages of the operant extinction process frustration often occurs.

Place Learning:

Cognitive Map:

A mental representation of spatial location and directions example blind people can still find their way around their houses.

Retaining the sequence of streets in the direction to your house is memory, but seeing these streets in one’s mind’s eye is cognitive mapping.

Latent Learning:

A new behavior is learned but not demonstrated until some incentive is provided for displaying it.

Latent learning occurs without any reinforcement when an organism learns a new concept the knowledge is not immediately expressed, it remains dormant and becomes available only when specific conditions / events might need this knowledge to be demonstrated.

For instance: A child may observe his mother cooking lasagna on weekends but does not act on this learning for month, when his mother is not home and he cooks lasagna, only then he finds out that he knows how to cook lasagna.

Tolman’s Learning Experiment:

3 group of rats were experimented with..

Group 1

Rats were allowed to wander for 17 days without receiving any reward at the end of the maze.

  1. Spent a relatively long time reaching the end.
  2. Made many errors.

Group 2

Rats were always given food at the end learned to run quickly and directly to the food made fewer mistakes.

Group 3

In this group rats were unrewarded for the first 10 days after 10th day rats in this group were given food at the end of maze.

After 10th day showed reduction in running times decline in error rates, performance almost immediately matched the rats in the 2nd group which received rewards from the start.


Unrewarded rats had learned the layout of the maze early they just never displayed their talent learning until the reinforcement was offered.

Insight Learning: Learning through a sudden cognitive change that solved a problem cognitive change the involves recognition of previously unseen relationships.

Caged chimpanzees to see how they learned to solve problems for instance:

Problem 1: Hung bunch of bananas high on the ceiling chimps tried to reach by jumping, failed on of the chimps picked up wooden boxes to stack them and reach bananas.

Problem 2: Hung bananas high on the ceiling chimps tried to reach on jumping and bamboo sticks at it failed – annoyed later, the chimp suddenly packed up the bamboo down the bananas.

When presented with the same problem later, the chimps immediately solved the problems, learning through might not gradual learning.

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