Ivan Pavlov - Psychology and Learning
Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)
Russian psychologist and physiologist.
Famous for his idea of the “conditioned reflex” where behaviour is changed through
training or conditioning (see point 1).
Winner of the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine in 1904
His most famous book
Conditioned Reflexes (1927).
Why is he so important to psychology and learning?
1. Classical conditioning
Pavlov discovered that you can train people by conditioning them to respond to a particular
For example, in his famous experiments with dogs (pictured right is one of
them) , he stimulated them to salivate after hearing a ticking metronome before they received
Such conditioning is more controversial, if it is used to brainwash people against their
In his Little Albert Experiment , the American psychologist, John Watson
(1878-1958) (pictured right below) controversially conditioned a young child to fear a white rat by
accompanying the sight of one with a loud bang.
Watson once said that he could take 12 infants and train them to become whatever kind of person he wanted.
2. Behaviourism (or behavioural psychology)
This believes that people’s learning and behaviour can be affected by their
environment and education.
3. Mental health
Conditioning is used to remove fears and phobias by associating them with pleasant
Addictions (like smoking) can be cured by relating them to something nasty.
Key quotes on
Facts are the air of scientists.
Learn the ABC of science before you try to ascend the summit.
Key quote on
Don’t become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin.
Key quote on
Be passionate in your work and in your searching.