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Ivan Pavlov’s Classical Conditioning Dog Salivation Experiment

This is a guest post from former VCE student Cait Sexton for VCE Psychology. If you want to write a guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

TITLE OF RESEARCH: Ivan Pavlov’s Classical Conditioning Dog Salivation Experiment (early 1900’s)

AIM: To investigate if hungry dogs can be classically conditioned to salivate to the sound of a bell.

HYPOTHESIS: It was hypothesised that Pavlov’s hungry dogs will be classically conditioned to have an increased amount of salivation to the sound of a bell after the sound of a bell has been paired with meat powder.

IV: The neutral stimulus (bell) being paired with the conditioned stimulus (meat powder).

DV: The amount of salivation to the sound of the bell.

PARTICIPANTS: Hungry dogs

MATERIALS: A canula which is a surgically implanted tube in the dogs saliva glands which measures the amount of saliva produced by the dog, a harness used to restrain the dog and hold it in the desired position, meat powder to be used as the unconditioned stimulus, a bell to be used as the neutral stimulus, mirrors so the dog cannot see or be distracted by the observer.

PROCEDURE: Before conditioning, when the hungry dogs were presented with meat powder (UCS) an automatic response was elicited as the dogs salivated to the meat powder (UCR). Also before conditioning, when the hungry dogs heard the sound of a bell (NS), a response was not elicited. During conditioning the sound of the bell (NS) was paired with the meat powder (UCS) and the dogs would salivate in response to the food, and would begin to associate the sound of the bell with the food. After conditioning when the hungry dogs heard the sound of a bell (CS) a response would be elicited and the dogs would salivate to the sound of the bell.

RESULTS: The hungry dogs were classically conditioned to salivate to the sound of the bell.

LIMITATIONS AND EV/CV:

-Breed of dog

-Only one type of animal used

-Dogs may have smelt or seen the meat powder before it was presented.

-The dog may not be able to hear the bell.

-The dog may already associate the sound of the bell with another stimulus.

CONCLUSIONS: It can be concluded that a neutral stimulus when paired with the unconditioned stimulus will elicit a conditioned response after several pairings.

GENERALISATIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: It can be generalised that organisms can be classically conditioned. Responses can occur as a result of experience such as braking when you see the brake lights of the car in front come on

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