of Fame - Ivan Pavlov
The Russian physicist
Ivan Petrovitsj Pavlov was born in 1849.
He studied pharmacology and physiology in Sint Petersburg. Later he
became a teacher on this academy. Besides teaching, he was involved
in medical research.
Pavlov was interested in the behavior of both humans and animals, and
he was especially interested in reflexes. His biggest contribution to
the field of psychology is classical conditioning, a theory about
how behavior is learned. He received a Nobel price for his important
contribution to science. Pavlov died in 1936 in Russia.
Pavlov was a behaviorist.
This means that his theories focused on observable behavior, because
behavior can be measured and thought can not. The human mind should
be interpreted as a black box that can not be opened. Only was
goes in the box and what comes out can be known. Scientific evidence
is the keyword in his theory.
Pavlov studied reflexes, automatic behavior that is caused by a stimulus
from the environment. Some reflexes, such as blinking your eyes
when a puff of air comes in it, or the sucking of a baby when something
is put in his/her mouth. This automatic behavior can be manipulated.
This is called conditioning. In this conditioning process, a
unconditional stimulus is given to a person. This stimulus causes a
reflex on its own. When the unconditional stimulus is now given to the
person together with a stimulus that does not cause a reflex on its
own. Thus, a unconditional stimulus is given together with a conditional
stimulus. Because the presence of the unconditional stimulus, the reflex
is caused. This process of stimulus-response is repeated for a number
of times. After a while, the unconditional stimulus is not offered any
more. Only the conditional stimulus is offered. Because of the repeated
association of the unconditional and the conditional stimulus, the conditional
stimulus will now cause the reflex on its own. Classical conditioning
Pavlov's theories where very influential, in particular in the field
of child psychology.
The theory of Pavlov
could be tested in experiments that where conducted in a laboratory.
He often used animals in his experiments. His most famous experiment
is the one, in which he used dogs to demonstrate classical conditioning.
The dogs he used showed a salivation response when they where offered
food (unconditional stimulus). The food was offered a number of time
with the sound of a buzzer (conditional stimulus). After this, the sound
of the buzzer alone could produce the salivation response.