There are two types of conditioning in associative learning, classical and operant conditioning. The latter involves exposure to a neutral stimulus followed by exposure to unconditioned stimulus (Chapter 6). In response to the repeated pairing of the two stimuli, the neutral stimulus finally elicits a conditioned response. However, in operant conditioning a voluntary action either receives a reinforcement, to increase its frequency, or a punishment, to decrease its frequency (Chapter 6).
The case of Kendra and Austin depicts classical conditioning. For instance, Kendra reports feeling terrified upon hearing the motor of a specified car, similar to that of her ex-husband (Unitek College – PSY 101). Since her ex-husband used to abuse her physically, she grew to fear hearing the motor of her car, an unconditioned stimulus, which would announce his arrival. Therefore, she paired the sound to a neutral stimulus, the motor of any car similar to her ex-husbands, which elicited terror in her, a conditioned response. Similarly, Austin associates any individual who drinks or takes drug around him to the unpleasant actions of his father against his mother, in a classical conditioning. Austin’s smell aversion is also a classical conditioning, associated with the traumatizing experience, when he found her mother on the flour kitchen lying unconscious. Since meatloaf was cooking then, he associates such a smell with the unpleasant moments (Unitek College – PSY 101).
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However, the memories of Austin differ from those of Kendra. While Kendra reports assaults by the husband twice in six year, but with eight cases of hospitalization secondary to the physical abuse, Austin reports that the father abused his mother daily. A major cause of this could be decay in Kendra’s memories due to failure of sensory memory storage, which causes the difference from Austin’s intact sensory and long-term memory (Chapter 7).
- Chapter 6. Conditioning and learning.
- Chapter 7. Memory.
- Unitek College – PSY 101. Case study 1. Unitek College.