What Are Biological Preparedness and Classical Conditioning?

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According to the McGraw Hill Online Learning Center, classical conditioning is the process by which an organism learns to associate two stimuli, so one stimulus comes to produce a response that only the other stimulus did previously. Biological preparedness is the concept that animals are instinctively pre-wired to learn behaviors related to their survival.

According to the McGraw Hill Online Learning Center, classical conditioning involves an unconditioned stimulus, an unconditioned response, a conditioned stimulus and a conditioned response. The technique was popularized by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov, who experimented with the salivary response of dogs. Pavlov used food as the unconditioned stimulus that prompted the unconditioned response of salivation. When he paired the arrival of food with a bell, the bell became the conditioned stimulus that produced the conditioned response of salivation.

Martin Seligman was the psychologist who coined the concept of biological preparedness, according to the McGraw Hill Online Learning Center. Because of biological preparedness, animals can develop conditioned taste aversions that cause them to avoid harmful foods. Animals can also be biologically prepared to fear stimuli; this fear then helps them avoid or escape stimuli such as dangerous predators. Behaviors that animals are biologically prepared to learn increase their chances of survival and reproduction.