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Investigating the Affect of Classical and Operant Conditioning on the Behaviour of a Sample of Rats

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INVESTIGATING THE AFFECT OF CLASSICAL AND OPERANT CONDITIONING ON THE BEHAVIOUR OF A SAMPLE OF RATS

ABSTRACT
This study investigated how different training sessions affected the behaviour of the common lab rat. It was hypothesised that the training, held within an operant chamber using classical and operant conditioning, would result in an observed change in behaviour of the rats. Results showed that the frequency of certain behaviours changed in direct response to the different training sessions conducted. These results supported the hypothesis.

INTRODUCTION
Humans live in close proximity to animals and depend on a wide range of species for work, research, food and fibre, entertainment, sport or as companions. By understanding how they learn and respond to reinforcement enables us to train them for desirable behaviour e.g. customs dogs trained to detect drugs, research animals trained to co-operate with handling or house-training a pet dog.

Learning can be brought about in various ways, including classical and operant conditioning. The formation of an association between two stimuli is referred to as classical conditioning, a theory discovered in 1891 by the Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov (Staddon and Cerutti 2003). Classical conditioning has been successful in a wide range of species and response systems and is thought to be an adaptive trait in the natural environment (Domjan 2005). In contrast, operant conditioning, a theory conceived by B. F. Skinner in 1937, involves the formation of an association between a specific behaviour and a consequence by the control of reinforcement schedules (Staddon and Cerutti 2003). A reinforcer can take the form of food, water, sound, touch etc. and is given to a subject according to a predefined rule either based on a time interval or ratio schedule. The reinforcement can either be positive (reinforcer given to…...

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