Pavlov’s classical conditioning experiment (quick review)


Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov, in the twentieth century stumbled upon something that made him a Nobel prize winner, while studying digestion in his lab: “his subject drooled at him”(Dennis Coon; John O. Mitterer). Some thing changed, his main focus at that time was, digestion.

He knew that, digestion begins when you place the food in your mouth, then salivation and chewing. While observing salivation, using his dogs, he noticed that, they started drooling (salivating) before the food even reached their mouths. Later, the dogs began salivating when they heard Pavlov entering the room (Dennis Coon; John O. Mitterer). This new behavior caught his attention, because salivation, an automatic inherited  response, really should not change from one day to the next, he concluded then that, this was a learnt behavior that needed further investigation (Dennis Coon; John O. Mitterer).  

Pavlov studies gained it place in history, this form of learning is now called “Classical Conditioning.” Watch the demonstration below. 


Pavlov’s experiment

To begin, he rang a bell, because the bell had nothing to do with the food or salivating, it is called a NEUTRAL STIMULUS (NS). The bell rang, the dogs heard the bell no salivation. Immediately after ringing that bell, He place some meat powder on the Dogs’ tongue triggering the reflex action salivation. 

The Bell, (Neutral Stimuli (NS)), meat powder  (Unconditioned Stimulus (US) this stimulus is built in (reflex) able to produce a response independently)  and Salivation (Unconditioned Response (UR) build in automatic action ). Pavlov’s entire experiment that showed how behaviors are learnt is : Bell — Meat Powder— Salivate— Repeat. 

Step 1. Pavlov’s Experiment. 


Step 2. Pavlov’s Experiment. 

On the repeat action, the behaviors becomes associated. The dogs began to associate the bell with being given meat powder hence triggering the innate response, salivation. 


Step 3. Test Conditioning. 

After the repeating step 2 and the dogs began associating the bell with receiving meat powder hence  triggering the innate response salivation. It was time to test if the dogs will salivate just by hearing the sound of the bell. 


Conclusion Pavlov’s Experiment. 

The bell started out as a neutral stimulus. In time, the bell became a conditioned stimulus (CS) (stimulus that, because of learning, will illicit a response). When Pavlov’s bell also produced salivation, the dog was making a new response. Thus, salivation had also become a conditioned response (CR)

Psyc 104 Week 3 - Classical Conditioning Pavlov,(distributed Learning) (
Psychology: A Journey, 5th Edition (Dennis Coon; John O. Mitterer)
Ivan Pavlov (

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