Classical and Operant Conditioning


The concept explains the psychological principles of classical and operant conditioning. Using case studies and research evidence, the concept describes how most of our everyday behaviours are shaped by the pairing of stimuli and how businesses can use conditioning principles to improve employee performance and other business outcomes.

Technique Overview

Classical and Operant Conditioning Definition

Classical conditioning is a type of learning in which we make associations which force us to generalise our response towards one stimulus onto a neutral stimulus that it is paired with. It focuses on involuntary, automatic behaviours. Operant conditioning involves strengthening or weakening ‘voluntary’ behaviours using reinforcement or punishment (respectively) immediately following a behaviour (Statt, 2000).

Classical and Operant Conditioning Description *

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Business Evidence

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Examples of Classical and Operant Conditioning *

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Business Application

Classical and Operant Conditioning Implementation *

Success Factors of Classical and Operant Conditioning *

Measures of Classical and Operant Conditioning *

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Professional Tools

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Further Reading

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Classical and Operant Conditioning References (4 of up to 20) *

  • Burnes, B. (2009) Managing Change (5th Ed.), Pearson Education, Essex, UK.
  • Gorn, G. J. (1982) The Effects of Music in Advertising on Choice Behaviour: A Classical Conditioning Approach, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 46 (Winter), pp. 94-101.
  • Komaki, J. L. (1986) Toward Effective Supervision: An Operant Analysis and Comparison of Managers at Work, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 71 pp. 270-79.
  • Lazear, E. P. (2000) The Power of Incentives, American Economic Review, Vol. 90 pp. 1346-61.

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