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Classical conditioning (also Pavlovian or respondent conditioning) is a process of behavior modification made famous by Ivan Pavlov and his experiments conducted with dogs. In this process, a subject comes to respond in a desired manner to a previously neutral stimulus, by associating it with an unconditioned stimulus that elicits the desired response. Classical conditioning became the basis for a theory of how organisms learn, and a philosophy of psychology developed by John B. Watson, B. F. Skinner and others. Learning theory grew into the foundation of Behaviorism, a school of psychology that had great societal influence in the mid-20th century.
Classical conditioning occurs when a conditioned stimulus is paired with an unconditioned stimulus. Usually, the conditioned stimulus is a neutral stimulus (e.g., the sound of a tuning fork), the unconditioned stimulus is biologically potent (e.g., the taste of food) and the unconditioned response to the unconditioned stimulus is an unlearned reflex response (e.g., salivation). After pairing is repeated (some learning may occur already after only one pairing), the organism exhibits a conditioned response conditioned response to the conditioned stimulus when the conditioned stimulus is presented alone. The conditioned response is usually similar to the unconditioned response (see below), but unlike the unconditioned response, it must be acquired through experience and is relatively impermanent.