Iván Pávlov: biography of this referent of behaviorism

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov was a Russian physiologist well known for his experiments with dogs, which gave rise to what is now known as classical conditioning. Classical or Pavlovian conditioning is the most basic type of associative learning, in which an organism responds to an environmental stimulus, originally neutral, with an automatic or reflex response.

Pavlov’s discoveries they are studied in all universities of psychology and educational sciencesBecause it is one of the most introductory subjects of the two careers and one of the basic principles of learning. In this article you will find the biography of this famous historical figure and the explanation of why he is considered one of the most important researchers of all time. He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1904 for his experiments with dogs.

    Who was Ivan Pavlov?

    Ivan Pavlov was born in Ryazan, Russia. Her father, Peter Dmitrievich Pavlov, was a village priest and her mother, Varvara Ivanovna, a housewife. As a child, Pavlov was always an active boy who enjoyed spending hours and hours in the garden or riding his bike. He always had a curious mind and loved contact with nature and animals. Pavlov was not afraid to do housework and take care of his brothers. Of 11 brothers, he was the oldest.

    As he grew older he seriously considered becoming a priest and training for a career in theology. But during his teenage years, Pavlov he was interested in the works of Charles Darwin and Ivan Sechenov, What motivated him to study the natural sciences.

    in 1870 he enrolled at the University of St. Petersburg to study physics, mathematics and natural sciences. During his college years, he was influenced by his physiology teacher and decided this was the path he wanted to take in life. Pavlov has always been an outstanding student and graduated in 1875. He then continued his doctoral studies at the Academy of Medical Surgery to further his training in physiology.

    Dog experiments

    Ivan Pavlov is known for his experiments with dogs. And although today he is one of the famous figures in psychology and education, his first intention it was not to study the learning, but the salivation of dogs.

    During his experiments, what caught his attention was that after repeated testing, dogs secrete saliva even in the presence of him (Pavlov), whether he fed him or not. This was because the animals had learned that when Pavlov entered through the door, they would be given food at all times.

    From this discovery, the physiologist designed a series of experiments in which he rang a bell just before giving the dog food to measure saliva production. Pavlov found that once dogs were trained to associate the sound of the bell with food, they produced saliva even though food was not present. In other words, the bell caused salivation as when food was present. The experiment showed that the physiological response of dogs, salivation, was associated with the stimulation of the bell.

    Birth of classic packaging

    Pavlov not only used the bell as a stimulus, but later he used other stimuli, both auditory and visual, To produce what the conditioned response said. His experiments are an example of classical conditioning, which is part of behavioral theory, and therefore Pavlov’s ideas set aside mental processes to give special importance to observable and measurable behavior. And it is that their experiences are of great importance for the development of the scientific method in psychology, and have allowed the development of one of the most famous theoretical models of learning.

    Classic conditioning also known as stimulus-response (ER) learning. In order for associative learning to occur, the Unconditioned Stimulus (IE) is initially presented, which is a stimulus that automatically triggers a response from the body. In the case of Pavlov’s experiment, it was food. The response that this stimulus elicits in the body is called an unconditional response (IR). The unconditional answer was the amount of saliva secreted by Pavlov’s dog.

    Then a neutral stimulus must be presented (EN)In other words, the bell in the case of experience, which before learning occurs, produces no response. However, when this stimulus is presented repeatedly alongside the IE, the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus (CE), which alone elicits a response similar to that of the unconditioned stimulus. In this case, what happens when you hear the bell is called a conditioned response (CR).

      Watson made Pavlov popular in the West

      Pavlov was a pioneer in his discoveries of classical conditioning; however, their exploits took a long time to reach the Western world, as they were carried out in the former Soviet Union. It was thanks to John B. Watson that Pavlov’s initial ideas became popular in Europe and America, and they gave rise to the further development of operant or instrumental conditioning.

      The two theories constitute behaviorist theory, considered to be one of the most important currents of psychology. Watson brought classical conditioning to the United States where it was of great importance in the American educational system and in world psychology.

      If you would like to know more about this author, you can check out this article: “John B. Watson: Life and Work of the Behavioral Psychologist”

      Contributions to behaviorism

      Logically, one should not underestimate Watson’s work, which was important because he developed Pavlov’s initial ideas and applied them to human beings. Among the most important implications of classical conditioning, it is possible to highlight:

      • Importance in development and treatment of certain pathologies: phobias, anxiety, etc.
      • He helped to understand associative learning processes.
      • Great influence on the scientific method in psychology.
      • Generation of behavioral habits by strengthening by helping to develop instrumental conditioning.
      • Improver of the generalization of learning.

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