Blog Post 4: Classical Conditioning by Caitlin Randall

When we started talking about classical conditioning today in class I got super excited. Not only because this is something I’ve actually heard of before, but because I knew exactly which clip I would use in this post! Classical conditioning has a few different aspects, styles, and components, but it is mainly the intentional creation of a relationship between two previously unrelated stimuli, or in simpler words, making B happen after A occurs (when B and A usually have no relationship). Most people are familiar with Pavlov’s dogs, where dogs were presented with meat when a bell rang, and eventually the dogs would begin to salivate with the sound of the bell alone (even when meat wasn’t there). Thus, a relationship between the bell and salivation was created, and the dogs were classically conditioned to salivate any time they heard a bell.

The clip is from The Office, and you may have seen it before. Check it out!

In the video, Jim gives Dwight a mint every time his computer restarts and makes the little Windows noise. Eventually, Dwight starts to hold out his hand just from hearing the sound of the computer restarting, without even recognizing he is doing it. Dwight has been classically conditioned to respond to the stimulus of the computer noise by expecting a mint.

Still don’t understand? Watch the clip again. You might not get it the second time, but at least you’ll be laughing.

  1. #1 by haydnmj on June 7, 2012 - 6:51 PM

    I love the Office and I love this clip!! I’m so glad you related classical conditioning to one of my favorite shows. I love how the clip showed that Dwight not only put his hand out when the computer sounded, but also felt as though his mouth smelled bad. This is similar to how in Pavlov’s experiment, the dogs began salivating to the sound of the bell. I definitely won’t be forgetting what classical conditioning is anytime soon! Thanks for helping me learn the material in this class! 🙂
    -Haydn Jensen

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