Free Essay on the Theory of Classical Conditioning

Published: 2019-06-19
Free Essay on the Theory of Classical Conditioning
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Psychology Social psychology
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1001 words
9 min read

This model was pioneered by Pavlov. This model of behavior explains a behavior learning process where a subject learns to respond in a certain way motivated by a stimulus that were previously neutral after repeatedly encountering the neutral stimulus when it is put together with another stimulus that motivated the same response.

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One advantage is that supports learning from what is around us. The theory has its foundation on scientific and empirical evidence.

The theory encourages improving and controlling of undesirable habits and behaviors. At the same time, the theory of classical conditioning may lack validity because it does not consider the unpredictability of human beings.

The classical conditioning theory provides some theoretical underpinnings such as stimulus generalization, repetition and stimulus discrimination (McLeod, 2008). An example through which classical conditioning where can be used is when dealing with individuals who are addicted to smoking, have bad eating habits and drink a lot of alcohol can learn how to avoid behaviors that might lead to them having health issues and contracting diseases (Francis et al. 2009).

Cognitive social learning

According to the Cognitive Social Learning theory that was developed by Bandura, individuals can learn how to behave through reinforcements.

However, reinforcements are not the only cause that determines how an individual behaves because individuals can learn specific behaviors from observing other peoples behaviors.

The most important condition for behavior change according to the Cognitive Social Learning theory is self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the belief that an individual can execute the behavior required to achieve the wanted outcome successfully. Cognitive Social Learning Theory holds the concept of self-regulation that is commonly known as willpower (Godin et al. 2008).

Self-regulation is important when it comes to health maintain behaviors such as maintaining regular exercise and eating healthy. One advantage of the Cognitive Social Learning theory is that it is easier to understand because it creates an accurate picture of how to learn about behaviors.

However, one disadvantage of the theory is that it does not take into account mental and physical changes. Furthermore what someone can perceive as punishment maybe a reward to another and the cognitive, social learning does not take that into account (Michie and Johnston, 2012).

Theory of Reasoned Action

In 1980, Ajzen and Fishbein wanted to predict the reason an individual would behave in a certain way at a certain place and time through the Theory of Reasoned Action.

The main argument is the ability of an individual to apply self-control while behaving in a certain way. When an individual expects a certain outcome from the way they behave, then they know the outcome, and, therefore, their behavioral intentions are based on whether the outcome is known.

One advantage of the theory of reasoned action is that it can be used to understand the adoption of decision making. Having that this model depends on predicting an individuals behavior based o n a certain criteria makes it unreliable because people do not always behave in a certain way because they are unpredictable.

Past behavior, intention certainty, attitudinal ambivalence and affective-cognitive congruence are the variables of cognition behavior association in the theory of planned behavior (Skar et al. 2008).

Health belief model

Developed in the 1950s the model of health belief focused on the reasons why individuals did not behave in ways that would help detect or prevent diseases earlier.

The model uses psychological predictors to forecast health conditions and behaviors. Elements of cognitive theory and operant conditioning theory are integrated to make up the health belief model.

This model can be used in understanding why some women do not take mammograms and get screened for breast cancer early to be on the safe side even if they know the importance of such practices.

The health belief model has contributed to the thought that individuals need to prevent themselves when the illness is absent (Nejad et al. 2005).

One disadvantage of this model is that it only explains health risk behaviors but leaves out personal, environmental and social factors that can influence health conditions.

As much as the model can help practitioners come up with awareness programs that can have an effect leading to the change of behaviors, it does not give steps on how to treat diseases once individuals have developed the disease. The health belief model describes a lot but does not give sufficient explanation, and it does not give a way forward to achieve change (Oyekale & Oyekale, 2011).


Francis, J. J., Stockton, C., Eccles, M. P., Johnston, M., Cuthbertson, B. H., Grimshaw, J. M., Hyde, C., ... Stanworth, S. J. (January 01, 2009). Evidence-based selection of theories for designing behaviour change interventions: using methods based on theoretical construct domains to understand clinicians' blood transfusion behaviour. British Journal of Health Psychology, 14, 625-46.

Godin, Gaston, Belanger-Gravel, Ariane, Eccles, Martin, & Grimshaw, Jeremy. (2008).Healthcare professionals' intentions and behaviours: A systematic review of studies based on social cognitive theories. (BioMed Central Ltd.) BioMed Central Ltd.

Institute of Medicine (U.S.). (2001). Health and behavior: The interplay of biological, behavioral, and societal influences. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press.

Michie, S., & Johnston, M. (March 01, 2012). Theories and techniques of behaviour change: Developing a cumulative science of behaviour change. Health Psychology Review, 6, 1, 1-6.

McLeod, S. (2008, January 4). Claasiscal Conditioning. Retrieved November 16, 2015, from

Nejad, Lillian, Wertheim, Elanor, & Greenwood, Kenneth. (2005). Comparison of the health belief model and the theory of planned behaviour in the prediction of dieting and fasting behaviour. (Swinburne University of Technology.) Swinburne University of Technology.

Oyekale, A.S., & Oyekale, T.O. (2011). Application of Health Belief Model for Promoting Behaviour Change among Nigerian Single Youths. (African Journal of Reproductive Health (ISSN: 1118-4841) Vol 14 Num 2.) Women's Health and Action Research Centre.

Skar, S., Sniehotta, F. F., Araujo-Soares, V., & Molloy, G. J. (October 01, 2008). Prediction of Behaviour vs. Prediction of Behaviour Change: The Role of Motivational Moderators in the Theory of Planned Behaviour. Applied Psychology, 57, 4, 609-627.

Webb, T. L., Sniehotta, F. F., & Michie, S. (November 01, 2010). Using theories of behaviour change to inform interventions for addictive behaviours. Addiction, 105, 11, 1879-1892.

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